Written or Wrote?

If a baby cat is called a kitten, why isn’t a baby rat called a ritten?

Free Books

Why not?

Zebra Finches at School

In the lobby of a school in Chelsea is a flock of zebra finches. A school of birds.

Stickies at Work

This is what computer processing actually looks like

Mac Stickies Arranging by Content (alphabetically)

Coding Books 3

Code.org has had a tremendous impact on the global interest in computer science education, and in particular, on the development of the computer science initiatives in the NYCDOE.

Although their curriculum is no longer published in book form (download instead), up until 2018 they were shipping bound books.

Their Computer Science Fundamentals book checks in at just over 300 pages of dense text and relatively mediocre black and white illustrations (the online downloadable version is full color).

It is also filled with offline (unplugged) activities whose goal is to familiarize students with coding concepts (e.g., conditionals, repeat looks, variables) without being on the computer. There are also sections on digital citizenship.

All in all, it is a mixed bag. I like the pages that show how to do graph paper programming, which is an effective way to introduce students to algorithms

. .

I use their Graph Paper Programming in my Adapted Coding Workshops that I offer to teachers.

The content that I had less success with the students was Getting Loopy, which introduces pattern recognition and loops. The students did the worksheet, but did not seem to gain a greater understanding about loops.

pdf version

 

3Doodler Start Pens – First Try

When the students first started using the 3Doodler 3D printing pens, they had mixed success:

  • PRO: I had exactly 12 pens, so each student could use a pen.

  • CON: The pens took about an hour to charge, and had to be recharged often.

  • PRO: I had three powerful usb chargers and there was a good surge strip in the room

  • CON: The filament was old and brittle. It had not been opened during the 18 months of covid/remote learning. Subsequently, two of the pens became jammed when we tried to use the filament, and all the filament had to be tossed.
  • PRO: When I explained how, because of covid and remote learning, we had not been able to use the kit for almost two years, the company replaced the two jammed pens and the whole box of 1200 filaments for free!

  • CON: The company did not include the light green color filaments in the replacement.

  • CON: Waiting for the replacement pens and filaments pushed the project start time back by two weeks.
  • PRO: The kit provided plastic templates that had circles on them, so students could trace the circles with the pens.

  • CON: Circles are really hard to draw and the filament did not stick to the plastic, but instead kept lifting off = frustrating to the students.
  • PRO: The students “drew” on paper instead. The filament stuck much better on paper, and could be peeled off when cool.

  • CON: Students did not press the filament onto the paper, but held the pens ever-so-slightly above the paper. Because filament was above the paper, it formed strands that did not stick in place and tended to buckle.

  • CON: It took many sticks of filament to fill in even a little shape, so the students were not just making flimsy outlines.

  • PRO: The students made flags, plates of spaghetti, abstract designs, scribble scrabble, their signatures, pyramids, etc.

  • BOTTOM LINE: The students LOVED it!

3Doodler Start Pens – First Try – video

We finally charged up the 3D printing pens, made by 3Doodler. A coworker had purchased a complete 3Doodler Start set (the beginner version of the pens, that uses a unique cool filament) and then retired, so I am using them with the students.

The difference? The students loved the pens, though it was really tricky at first….

Here are videos of students (and staff) using the pens for the first time.

 

 

 

 

Coding Books 2

It bills itself as “The Complete Middle School Study Guide” and it does have a load of content.

Everything you need to ace computer science and coding in one big fat notebook is a fat book full of color drawings that covers coding concepts and computer languages.

I used it to teach Scratch. I like how it explains the coordinate plane, because not ever student knows what the numbers in the move blocks mean.

I also learned about the scratch backpack, on area on the bottom of the scratch page that you can use to save scripts to reuse with other sprites (characters) or other projects. Students must have an individual Scratch account to use the backpack feature, fyi.

The book has a unit on universal coding commands, such as loops, conditionals, and variables, that I found confusing and not helpful.

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Coding Books I

This is the first post in a series about useful computer coding books that are age-appropriate for middle schoolers, as well as students with disabilities.

DK Publishers Beginners Ste-by-step Coding Course

This book helped me teach students computer science. I found it at the New York Public Library,  browsing through the shelves in the YA section.

What I like is that it covered Scratch, which is what I did with some of the classes. Although there was not enough time/cognitive ability (on my part, anyway) to do python, javascript or html/css, nevertheless it was there for the learning (I actually do know html, and a small amount of css).

Add excellent graphics and simple explanations, and what more could a teacher want to use to teach students?

Dorling Kindersley (DK) graphics are the BEST!

 

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Letter-Like Symbols

This is the second part in my series on things that look like letters, but are not quite letters. I am not talking about post cards. I am talking about letters of the alphabet.

MacOS has a short list of letterlike symbols, and wordwall.net has a larger list, which is alphabetical. (Or would be, if every element in their list was actually a letter, which is not the case.)

Which begs the question about why Apple curated their collection down to just 26 symbols and wordwall.net accepted everything, including non-English language letters which do not look like English letters.

MacOS Letterlike Symbols

 

MacOS Letterlike Symbols descriptions

Wordwall.net has alphabetized their letterlike symbols, which is kind of fun.

Wordwall.net letterlike symbols

What can you find in the wordwall.net symbols? I see a Hebrew alef, bet, gimmel and dalet, as well as a Greek sigma and pi.

Is that an upside-down ampersand?!

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