Scratch and Hour Of Code

Filed Under (Gaming) by Patti Harju on 22-11-2013

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This post is cross posted on

My Middle School Students have been working with Scratch in preparation for The Hour of Code event in December. We began with the Learn to Code Tutorial. This was a great way to introduce the students to the basics of coding and they had fun as the Tutorial used Angry Birds and Plants vs Aliens levels. I was thrilled at how engaged all 6th, 7th and 8th graders were with the tutorial and were determined to reach the end. I loved how the tutorial made them think. The later levels were not easy and the students needed to try a few different things to reach the end.

I then had the students sign up for their own Web Based Scratch account. If they did not have an email address, I gave them one to use. (This website let me use the gmail+1 trick to create additional accounts.) This way they can work on their projects from home and it makes it easy to share projects. During our first class with Scratch we learned together, using directions I found on how to make a maze game. While the basics of the directions worked, we had trouble getting our Sprite to move correctly using the arrow keys. I went home and spent the next evening playing with Scratch and figuring it out. I found the best way to learn was to look at a game someone else made on the Scratch website. If you click on SEE INSIDE you will see the scripts written for that game. I found a maze game I liked and used it as my model for making my own maze game, complete with annoying noises which I knew the Middle School students would enjoy. Below is my game. You move the Butterfly through the maze using the arrow keys.

I have students who attended Scratch summer camps, so they were already experts and able to help the rest of us. I need to learn a little ahead of the other students so I can help them, but I am also encouraging them to check out other projects to get ideas. I am excited to see where we go with Scratch and gaming. All grades will be participating in Hour of Code and my hope is that we are gaming, coding and creating on an ongoing basis throughout the rest of the year.
There are other tutorials on the Hour of Code website, including an introduction to JavaScript and Tutorials for LightBot (for younger students) and Tynker (coding similar to Scratch.) I have also been using some FREE iPad Apps that teach coding with the students including Kodable, Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch and Cargo-Bot.

Tellagami App with 4th and 5th Graders

Filed Under (Collaboration, Digital Storytelling, Tellagami) by Patti Harju on 10-11-2013

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4th Graders wrote and illustrated Autumn Poems with their classroom teacher. Using the iPad and the Tellagami App (free!) the 4th graders published their poem. What I love about using technology to publish writing is that it adds that often missed step of reading and sharing the writing. Too often my students would finish a writing project and I would post it in the hallway and then we would move on to our next assignment. Using technology the students need to read and often re-read their poem or report, and as they record their voice, they are often critical and want to record it again (and again.) Having a student read a report or poem in front of the class does not always mean you have an attentive audience. When we play the Tellagami App recordings of each student, the audience is engaged. Posting these on the Kidblog gives them the opportunity to listen to each other over and over and leave comments.

The 5th graders created dioramas in response to

    “The Cricket in Times Square”

. They also wrote a description of their diorama. I helped them use the Tellagami App to take a picture of their diorama and record their description. I do find it easier to take the picture with the Camera App on the iPad and then import it into Tellagami. The Tellagami App also has a 30 second limit. The 5th graders needed to look at their written descriptions and figure out what the important details were. It gave them a chance to edit their writing, and others learned how to read a little faster.

I love the Tellagami App because it is easy to use, and does not take long for students to figure out. It is relatively quick, and the product is fun to view. The students enjoy creating their character before recording, this sometimes takes the longest. After they record the Tellagami, I have all the iPads set to email the Tellagami to my school email address. Then I can easily grab the embed code and pop it on the student’s Kidblog for sharing. (To make that a quicker process, I ask the students to create a Blog Post Draft for the Tellagami then I only need to sign in to Kidblog as myself to copy and paste the embed code.)

Animal Reports with DE and 3rd Graders

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Patti Harju on 10-11-2013

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I am loving my job change this year. I am now half time second grade teacher and half time Tech Lab Teacher for grades Preschool through 8th grade. I love having the opportunity to work with all grades, especially all of my former second grade students, although I must admit that Preschool and Kindergarten are a new and sometimes scary challenge for me!  More about that another time.

One of the great things about being the Tech Teacher is getting to work with all grades and help the classroom teacher support technology use. In third grade the students came to the lab ready to do research on an animal. I sent them to Discovery Education as their first stop. They were also given links to some other safe sites for students. They spent time in the classroom researching as well. While they continued writing the report with their teacher, they next used lab time time to search for images of their animal – again beginning with Discovery Education and then continuing with safe and copyright free image sites. The images were put into an iMovie. The students added titles, transitions and some music to the iMovie. Bringing the final copy of their report to the lab they narrated the iMovie by Recording themselves reading their report. The iMovies were exported and uploaded to Schooltube and then embedded on their Kidblog. I was very pleased with how well the students worked and the quality of the iMovies. The step in the process we need to add is citing the sources. We need to add that slide at the end of each movie that gives credit to Discovery Education and the other research and image sources we used.

To view the rest of the iMovies, visit the 3rd Grade Kidblog
and feel free to leave a comment or two.