Monday, November 30, 2015

iPad Coding Apps for Beginners

As we approach Computer Science in Education Week this year. I wanted to share 3 iPad apps that are great for your young students to use for their Hour of Code. The age/grade ranges are suggestions, you may have to differentiate accordingly for your students. REMEMBER: "Hour of Code" doesn't mean that a child needs to be on an app for a solid hour non-stop. Ten minutes a day here or there would be great for our young coders.

Kindergarten - 1st Grade:

Kodable is great for the basic coding concepts. Students select the directional steps that need to be taken to get from one side of the screen to another.
This gives students the basic idea that algorithms are the steps needed to accomplish a task. Kodable allows teachers to set up classrooms and view their students progress via class codes through their website.

Lightbot: Code Hour
1st - 2nd Grades: 

Lightbot Code Hour asks students to be specific in the amount of steps that need to be taken within the algorithm. The Lightbots also perform rotations and actions.

Scratch Jr.
2nd Grade and above:

While this is a "Junior" version of MIT's Scratch program, it is still fairly complex compared to the other two apps mentioned. I believe that a child would have more success trying the Kodable and Lightbot Apps out first, before jumping into Scratch Jr. It offers many complex features. Students are able to add multiples within steps for an algorithm to be completed. Sound effects and voice can be added as well. Once they become comfortable with coding concepts, Scratch Jr. allows for endless creative ideas for your students.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Graphic Design Tools for ALL Students

Students are constantly bombarded with graphics in their daily lives. Social media, web page adds, video game consoles, and the environmental print around them all use graphic design tools to give our students information. So the question quickly becomes, how can our students create graphic representations of the information we want them to report and present?

While there have been tools like Microsoft Paint and Adobe Photoshop out there for years, they haven't always been "student friendly." The thought of a student quickly using those tools to make a short presentation or exit ticket was hardly an option.

For the last couple of years, I have really began to enjoy using 2 specific graphic design tools with students of all ages in the Springdale School District: Canva and Piktochart. They are both relatively easy to use, and allow students to create various types of Infographics, Presentations, Exit Tickets, and more. Both sites have several templates to get students started, and several free icons and graphics for students to use. The ability to import their own images is also easy.

If you are in a Google Apps for Ed domain, you can sign in to both sites through Google!

Check out a few examples that I was able to quickly make with these two programs, and give the sites a try for yourself. Your students will enjoy using these tools to creatively display what they have learned.

Newspaper Report - PiktoChart

Short Book Review - Canva

Time Lines - PiktoChart

Student Generated Vocabulary Cards - Canva