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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hour of Code

Hour of Code

#HourofCode is a global event designed to expose people ages 4 to 104 to the basics of coding and to demystify computer programming. Last week more than15 million students learned coding skills in classrooms all over the world.

In our classroom, scholars are a little ahead of the curve. They learned coding as part of their kindergarten experience and have continued to advance their skills this year. So, my challenge this year was to find something new that would broaden their understanding of coding and allow them to use the skill of coding to create a project that would illustrate their learning in a content area.  There are several great apps, free apps, that teach learners to code. When I began investigating the Scratch Jr app, I knew that this app would allow students to create a project where they could write code and integrate that with a ‘show what you know’ type of project. Scratch Jr allows users to create ‘storyboards’ and add characters and objects then write code to make things move and talk…a bit like a digital movie. A variety of characters and objects can be added to a storyboard then code is written for each, individually. Ultimately, all the characters/objects are programmed to move and talk simultaneously creating the digital movie.

There are several different ‘categories’ of codes:

 General Sequencing Commands
Movement Commands
Sizing and Speech Bubble Commands
Speaking Commands
Grouping, Repeat and Timing Commands
Stop/Repeat/Adding Storyboards Commands

These have all been made quite simple and allow for easy testing and correction with just a few taps.

We just finished a science unit on forms of energy, so I challenged scholars to create a project to illustrate and give examples of the three forms of energy heat, light and sound.

They couldn’t wait to get started and were completely engaged in planning, testing and improving their projects. They worked in partnerships and collaborated naturally.  Many went on to create imaginative projects of their own at home. I can’t say enough good things about this app. I see so many possibilities for its use as a platform for sharing learning across content areas. Scholars certainly improved their coding skills but also learned that it’s not just about gaming and beating levels on games. They actually utilized code to create a meaningful digital product to share their learning and that I can use to assess their learning.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Engineering Rafts

A few weeks ago, we began an engineering challenge called 'The Raft Challenge'. Scholars were asked to work with a partner to plan and design a model raft that would float, hold themselves and four friends (5 washer weights), survive a rainstorm and survive waves. We began with a literature connection, one of my favorite books, The Raft by Jim LaMarche.

From there, scholars followed the engineering design process.

The final step of this learning project was to share the experience by writing a book during Writing Workshop. Today, scholars shared their books on their Weebly blogs. They wrote a page for each step in the Engineering Design Process and concluded their books by sharing what they learned throughout the process. Please follow this link to read their books.

One of the reasons scholars have a blog is because it provides practice in learning to be an effective communicator.  It also provides a venue for a real audience for their work. So, please feel free to comment on the books they posted and give them some growth producing feedback.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Proud To Be An American

We had an amazing assembly yesterday morning! Scholars met some very special guests who spoke to them about service, freedom and citizenship.

One of our special guests was Medal of Honor Recipient, Doc Ballard. The Medal of Honor is awarded for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. There are fewer than 100 Medal of Honor recipients alive today so it is a rare opportunity, indeed,  to meet one of these heroes.

Medal of Honor recipient, Doc Ballard

Another of our special guests was former Army Night Stalker Helicopter Pilot, Gary Linfoot. Gary sustained injuries during his service which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He currently uses an exoskeleton device to walk. He spoke to scholars about his injuries and how this special device was engineered for him and others like him. He explained that this device is in its infancy and engineers gather data from his experiences to improve the device to make it better for future users. He hopes that one day the device will allow him to jump and run.
What an amazing, real life, engineering connection!

Gary Linfoot 

Follow this link to the video:    Gary Linfoot Exoskeleton

Col USMCR, Tim Raynor was on hand and talked to scholars about The Pledge of Allegiance. He explained that the flag is our national symbol and that each time we say the pledge we are committing our allegiance to our country and honoring all those who fought and still fight to help maintain the freedoms we enjoy everyday.

Col USMCR Tim Raynor

Finally, scholars were treated to a few songs from country recording artist Corrine Chapman. In addition to her career as a singer/songwriter, Corrine volunteers and shares her talent at numerous Veterans events.

Country Recording Artist Corrine Chapman

Cannon Elementary scholars are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet these real life heroes!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cannon's Cardboard Challenge

The idea was something awesome out of cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. 

The results were amazing!