Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What I Learned About the Hour of Code

This is not a perfect post. I'm not sure if it will ever be a perfect post, but it something that has been swimming around my head for the past week, because I guess I'm still trying to process it. So, it is just a post. It won't be eloquent, there might not be a conclusion (sorry ELA teacher friends), maybe it's best to qualify it as an observation and insight.

I had the honor of being invited to kick off Computer Science Education Week (#CSEdWeek) at the flagship Microsoft Store in NYC. The event was wonderful, and I was privileged to be part of a panel that included Hadi Partovi, Emily Reid, and my friend, Chris Aviles.

In just 3 years, the Hour of Code and the resulting movement to teach CS in schools, has become mainstream. It was incredible to see all the blog posts, and social media posts depicting kids (A LOT of them) and adults, thrilled about learning coding. I still have some #latergram pictures to share (everything's a #slowchat for me).

After the main HOC event last week, I had the opportunity to lead the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial to a group of high school kids from Brooklyn. I assumed they had heard of HOC. They had no idea what I was talking about. I assumed they would be proficient working on the Surfaces. They were for the most part able to use the touchpad, and their minds were blown that the Surface had a touchscreen. In my world, EVERYONE has played, or at least heard of Minecraft. I don't think either was the case for these kids.

After the hour, there were a handful of kids that got it, and loved the experience, while many others didn't, and I'm not sure that they even got why they were having the experience. I did some research afterwards, to learn that the school is a low performing school, having been closed and reopened by the city. It made me wonder about all the things I (we) take for granted: access to technology, being connected, how to motivate students.

I'm still processing, but the experience definitely opened my eyes to why so many educators are leading campaigns to spearhead digital equity. I just didn't get it until last week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

'Tis the Season

Without fail, October to December flies by with holidays every four weeks, then every week in December plus birthdays... Needless to say it's crazy. Crazy before, crazier with a December baby, who's not such a baby anymore, and I'll let you imagine what it's like when you add a commute into the city (that would be the city in NY for all the non-East coasters) to the mix.
Getting older has finally put me in tune with how I'm feeling, and maybe going/staying Whole30 has too. I have learned that I am someone who cannot work without a deadline. Can't cross things off the list until I absolutely have to, kind of deadlines. I work best under pressure, and just flail about in the days leading up to it. This week, I needed to prepare for Hour of Code things. I had to think about how to list the kids, what kind of passwords to give them, yadda yadda yadda. Needless to say, it's not done. Lots of distractions, noisy work space. You name it, it's been thrown my way this week.

*This was last week. I am finally feeling comfortable enough to post it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Being Intentional

I am really good at making excuses. I shouldn't be surprised that one (maybe both) of my kids are too. If I don't want to do something, consciously, or subconsciously, I won't. Don't get me wrong, I'm really good at getting things done, but things get in my way, and it takes a bit to figure it out.
Take for example, this letter to staff that I've been working on. This is a prime example of "progress, not perfection". I can't get the wording right, so I'm holding back. It's been days that I've been working on it, and when I looked at what I had- it was shameful. Waste of time procrastinating. Am I not being intentional? Maybe. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Learning the commute, Day 2

Having a plan is a good thing. Last night, I made note of some things I could accomplish on the computer sans wifi. I worked on a spreadsheet to upload to Google Calendar, and did the CST #BFC530. I think I was putting my tech away for MST (sorry @TyrnaD), and by the time I realized it was time to chat, I was already on the platform waiting for the E (no service). Subway rides are going to be used for blogging (just have to remember to post, AND save, but really SAVE, and post).

I REALLY need to be better about not keeping summer hours. It kills me because I work so much better at night, and there's so much to do. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Learning the commute

I am ridiculously excited to commute to work. Kind of like a kid-FINALLY commuting to NYC like a big girl! ;) but not without concerns. Cost, timing, getting out of the house earlier than I have in 20+ years. Thank goodness for +SteveIsaacs

Things I love: having the time on the train. While there isn't wifi on the train yet (only select stations), I can use my phone when above ground for the Internet. I'll work on blog posts (yeah, right), read AM New York/Time Out NY, or sleep when there isn't any service.

Things I need:
Commute Cam. I would make my YouTube millions on this first commute alone. 
Things I need to learn:
Blog posts don't save when you're underground. Copy and paste to Google Drive or Pages before closing out Blogger.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Taking Notes on Conference Slides

I am having an awesome summer! Usually I'm in Paradise this time of year, but I just attended my third workshop/conference/convening in 3 weeks, and I'm so excited about everything I'm learning, and the incredible connections I've been making! Yay! #nerdy

So I've been trying my best to tweet during sessions, and typically, I take a picture of the presenter' s slide and tweet it out. This week (maybe last week too), I had a little revelation. I must say that I am LOVING, and SO appreciate, presenters that outright share their slides. #nomorehandouts

What I did:

Google Slides- Presenter shares view only version of Slides. Make a copy. Take notes on those slides. Tweet the URL of the slide that you normally would have taken a picture of. Remember to change the share settings of your copy of the slides.

Make a Copy

REMEMBER TO SHARE! That lock, not shared.

Powerpoint- Upload Powerpoint to Google Drive. Open with Google Slides. Take notes in Slides. Tweet the URL of the slide that you normally would have taken a picture of. Remember to change the share settings of your copy of the slides.

Open with Google Slides

#GoMe! #ibloggedtoday

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Adventures in Minecraft- Day 3

More than 48 hours has passed without any game play, but a decent amount of thinking, mainly, "Where is this iron that I need to get my next achievement, and more importantly, get me to the DIAMONDS!".

I tried to ask @leilaboo215, but she plays in creative mode, so resources are always available. I also wanted to play on my iPhone, but learned it is a local game for iPhone.
The Minecraft wiki says that iron can be found in bedrock slightly above sea level (layers 1-63).1 Is this how you would make a superscript? Do I need to cite this?

Today my goal was to find iron ore. Before starting, I figured out what I needed- an iron pickaxe, if it was mined with anything else (like the wood pickaxe), nothing will drop. When I started the game, I noticed there was already 1 block of iron ore in my inventory- How did that get there? I spent a LONG time looking for that last week! Within minutes, I was attacked by a creeper, and respawned with nothing. :(

So I had to start over. I was not pleased with this, and spent a lot of time thinking about whether there was a cheat to respawn back to... a minute before getting attacked. I couldn't help but think, "I don't have time to start from the BEGINNING!" But start from the beginning I did. I actually learned and accomplished a lot today (in Minecraft, not in real life).

-I had to re-mine all my resources. I learned that things that you store in chests will stay put, as long as you remember where you put them.
-I cooked and ate a steak today (raw meat+heat source in the furnace= steak). Hold right click with the steak selected to eat it (1 steak refuels four hunger).
-You cannot attack a monster with a steak, but the scroll wheel makes it easy to select a sword (two stone+stick, vertically aligned- position is everything)
-When you're frustrated, all the blocks look the same.
-I was able to tell the difference between an acacia tree and an oak tree (different bark and height)
-The desert is vast and boring
-Grateful that I tried to mine something in a sand structure on my way to the desert. It was a useful landmark on my way back.
-I found my way back to my "camp" in the savannah!
-Crafted some signs (learned this at #ISTE2015 in the Minecraft and STEM session hosted by Microsoft)
-Signs are posted based on the angle you are facing. My OCD kicked in and I had to adjust the signs that I placed.
-I stored stuff I didn't know what to do with in the chests. Now that I'm thinking about it, I should have stored some things that I've already crafted, so if I do have to respawn, I don't have to recraft all my tools.
-I crafted a REALLY tall beacon (not fancy) at the top of my area (?), base camp (?), to help me find my things. I'll find out what it's really called
-Built arrows with cobblestone in case I got lost. Thanks to @STORI3D_PAST for the suggestion. They got better with iteration.
-A stone pickaxe is far more effective for attacking cows (and I imagine pigs- but they're nowhere to be found). 3 wipes=raw meat and experience points.
-A sword does wonders defending against monsters- even the ones that light themselves on fire!
-FINALLY found iron ore at level 55- meaning y-axis 55. Thanks to @PBJellyGames for the F3 tip!
-Smelted iron ore to make ingots!
-Crafted an iron pickaxe! Diamond ore is next! That's pretty low though. Lots of scary sounds in the mountain. I've been keeping an eye out for monsters, but haven't seen any. Switching between the pickaxe and my sword a lot.
-Save, save, SAVE!

Thank you to everyone that helped today! Especially @mr_isaacs for loving the live tweets!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Adventures in Minecraft- Day 2

Too sleepy to play past 11:00 pm last night, but brought my laptop to bed in case I caught a second wind. 

Participated in my first #satchathack, read a few blog posts, and now I'm back!

-Monsters come out at night- /time set day keeps it daylight (safe). Hiding in a deep or wide cave, or just around the corner, helps you survive the night.
-Getting killed, by monsters or self-inflicted (drowning, touching the cactus) makes you lose your inventory
-Placement on your crafting table is EVERYTHING
-Search on Minecraft Wiki for recipes (though sometimes there's too much there)
-Read the book
-Resources you harvest appear in your inventory even if they're not in your 9 hotspots
-Spaces need to be two blocks high in order to move through/out of them
-Placement on your crafting table is EVERYTHING
-Save before nightfall, save to keep your stuff
-Stone needs to be harvested with a pickaxe for it to drop
-The deeper the hole, the harder it is to get out
+Shane Asselstine's suggestion, "don't dig straight down!"
Things to figure out:
-Is it better to make lots of crafting tables to use and leave, or reuse one?
+Steven Isaacs says to leave one in your house, and take another with you

Friday, July 3, 2015

My Adventures in Minecraft- Day 1

Inspired by all the talks at ISTE2015, I am going to try Minecraft "for real life" (as leilaboo215 used to say). Things I've learned so far...

-Playing on the iPhone is tough

-The pigs are fast
-There is no swimming, just sinking (I don't know if that was quicksand or water)
-Hitting a pig 8 times yields pork chops and seeds
-Playing with a track pad is tough
-  button guides you on what to do next
-Do not try to make dinner while playing Minecraft. You will get slain by zombies.
-Be sure to pick up the coin (?) to gain experience points
-Hold the mouse down (instead of clicking one million times) to cut down a tree

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Digital Citizenship Resources

Here are a few resources that you could use with your students to reinforce digital citizenship (my students LOVE them!). I could go on and on about the importance of digital citizenship, how it's the entire school community's responsibility to embrace the idea of nurturing a community of digital citizens, much like we nurture and develop a community of citizens, but I would never ever finish this post (#soapbox). We'll save that conversation for another day. :)

Surf Swell Island- Appropriate for grades 1-6, students help the Disney friends navigate Surf Swell Island to retrieve the jewels to complete an ancient artifact while learning the dos and don'ts of internet safety. Parent and Teacher guides provide ideas to further reinforce concepts taught.

Webonauts Internet Academy- Students complete a series of missions as new Webonaut recruits learning about concepts essential for good digital citizenship. Great for grades 3-5. PBS Kids.

Digital Passport- Great for students in grades 4-8, Common Sense Media has developed a comprehensive digital citizenship curriculum including age appropriate video, interactive games, offline activities, and ideas to continue the conversation. Teachers can establish accounts for their students to track their progress.

Digital Compass- Common Sense Media's latest addition to their thorough digital citizenship curriculum. A choose your own adventure with a selection of characters similar to the kids helping them navigating all the choices kids are faced with in a digital age. Available on the web, Edmodo, and iOS tablets.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Creating Kid Friendly Avatars

Who doesn't love coming across someone's spot-on avatar? While I LOVE using Hello Kitty as my profile pic, I was very pleased with myself for designing a Traitr in ToonDoo that was my perfect likeness. Our district's move to Google Apps is a perfect opportunity for staff and students (sort of) to express themselves. My husband, Steve Isaacs, and I are leading a PD where we had the participants create an avatar as the icebreaker. It seems like they had a lot of fun with the activity. Here are some of the options we suggested, plus a few more that kids of any age would like!

*August 28, 2017 Update- Funko Pop Yourself Designer!
*Update- I just discovered, a Japanese website to create an avatar of yourself...wait for it...Hello Kitty style!

New tool alert! Androidify and :)

Another very fun tool- #PowderPuffYourself static jpgs and animated gifs!
*July 19, 2016 Update- novaskin- Make a Minecraft skin! I will make one and upload my me soon!
ToonDoo- Create a Traitr
Face Your Manga

Make a Mii

Lego Me

Build Your Wild Self
Peanutize Me
PowderPuff Yourself :)
Okay, this is not really me, but OMG!
Minecraft Skin Avatar- requires a Minecraft Premium username
Funko Pop Yourself Designer

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Creating Appointment Slots on your Google Calendar

One of the best things about Google Apps for Education is the ability to create appointment slots on your Google Calendar. I use appointment slots for lab sign ups and tracking Chromebook cart usage, and could see classroom teachers using it to conference with students, set up office hours, extra help or even as passes/entry tickets to open lab time. What could you use appointment slots for?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leaving a Google Slides Do Now for your Sub

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the annual #NJECC conference at Montclair State University. Among the presenters I had the opportunity to meet was Alice Keeler. Alice has completely embraced Google Drive and Classroom as her "go to" productivity/instructional tool. She does EVERYTHING with Google Drive, and blogs about it at Attending her sessions has inspired me to up my Google Drive game, though I admit I still do love Office, and I know I'll have a hard time completely letting go.

I had to get a sub in order to go to the conference. In addition to leaving written sub plans, I like to leave a set of Do Nows (Smart Starts) for the sub. This involves preparing a Powerpoint for the classes that are coming in that day, and saving it to the guest login desktop on my computer. Hopefully leaving the Do Now is helpful to the sub, and provides some consistency for the kids. The only downside is that the PPT needs to be done before I leave for the day, sometimes the tech does not cooperate, things take longer than I anticipate (i.e. website migration- argh), and it just cannot be completed the way I hoped.

What can you do? Let go, yes, but let's face it, if you're like me, you need things to be a certain way, and it's not okay to just let it go. So for last week, to my chagrin, I did have to let it go. Of course the rest of the night, I kept thinking, "I just want to change this one thing..."

Here's what I came up with, post-conference:

Create a Google Slides and give it a name (Substitute Do Now)
Change the Sharing settings so Anyone with the link can view
Copy the link
Create a shortcut on your desktop (whichever computer connects to the projector, and make sure you are logged in with the guest account- I DO NOT give my log in credentials out, EVER!)

  • PC- Right click, New, Shortcut, Paste the link to the shared slides, Next, Name the Shortcut, Finish. A shortcut to your default browser will appear on the desktop
  • Mac- Paste shared link (make sure this is the shared link, and not the editing link) into a new tab, highlight the entire url, and drag the entire url to the desktop- Shortcut voila!
Now you have a link to your Sub Do Now. Google Slides lets you update from wherever you are, and the link/content is always current. Ba-bam! (that's not really my thing, but I feel like I need a thing here to celebrate). Leaving written sub plans in the same way might be next.

What else does this do? It avoids having to keep your computer, or more importantly, your account, logged in overnight, or in some cases, all the time, just in case you need a sub. Be proactive in keeping your accounts (professional and personal) secure!