Friday, 15 January 2016

Learn Code Teach Code

This week I have been teaching myself coding. Well, has been teaching me coding. I began with Course 2 aimed for children who can read and suitable for ages 6 - 18 years. This course took me through coding using visual blocks learning everything from the basics of simple commands, to loops, 'if' statements, loops within loops and allowed me to practice these skills to create simple images, solve puzzles, and even create games using rules and logic. 

Throughout the course were several 'unplugged' activities and teacher lesson plans which described how to teach some of the principles of coding, without computers, great for classes with limited resources, and for getting to understand the purpose and function of different code capabilities without the distraction of the computers bells and whistles. 

One of the things I liked the most about this 'code' business is the practical side I can see to, how purposeful it can be to develop a child's problem solving capability, logic, reasoning, creativity, and open up a world of future pathways. A lot of the activities included tasks which required understanding patterns, angles, symbols < > =, 'if' and 'when' clauses which link perfectly with geometry, algebra and other mathematical applications. 

The best part however, was that it was actually quite fun. I was learning while having fun. Ideal. Check out some of my learning examples below. Click the image to be directed to the activity and code behind it. 

At the completion of Course 2 I also received my Certificate of Completion - Well done me. I think I'll enjoy incorporating this learning in my class this year. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Getting Google Educator Certified

For the past two years I have been using google tools in the classroom. Everything from building class sites, google doc, sheets, forms, drawings, slides, my maps, blogger, gmail youtube - you name it. Google makes everything easy in one place, and accessible from anywhere, on multiple devices. 
When I saw the online Google Educator Certification Fundamentals course I knew that it wasn't something I needed to do skill wise, but decided it would be worthwhile anyway. In case you've been wondering whether or not to give it a go, here's my feedback on the course. 

Majority of the things on the course were targeted for people new to using google products, however, I did still learn a few valuable things including: 

  • Google Keep 
  • Google Groups
  • 'Add to tasks' 
  • Google Classroom 
It's one of those, you don't know what you don't know scenario's.

The Level 1 course covers 13 units which cover everything on using the various products, to how they might be applicable in the classroom, and tips on being cybersmart and how to use search engines more efficiently.

Without prior experience using google, the suggested time to complete each unit was probably accurate. As I was already familiar with most of the products I was able to do each unit in a fraction of the time. Completing all 13 within a day. 
After registering for the exam you need to wait for it to become active - up to 24 hours, then you need to sit the exam within 7 days. 
You're given 3 hours to complete the exam. The first section is multi-choice which takes about 10 - 20 minutes. The second section is more practical, where you are supplied a google drive to carry out set activities to show competency using the tools. This bit takes a bit longer due to the requirements, but the three hour time limit is more than sufficient. 

The 13 units in the Level 1 certification are FREE, however you need to register for the online exam - there is a US$10 fee for this, but I figured the 'certification' was worth it. 

Though I was already confident using most of these products I found the process and reinforcement worthwhile. The units however were quite targeted to people new to google products, so in terms of the SAMR model, suggestions and 'tips' often sat within the Substitution or Augmentation levels of learning with digital technologies. In saying that it's just a foundation point - we all have to start somewhere right? 

Now that I have completed the Level 1 Fundamentals Training I'm looking forward to moving onto the Advanced Training - which I hope includes more innovation and creativity to allow for Modification and Redefinition of the learning process.