December 5-9 is Computer Science Education Week, and many schools around the world are participating by hosting an “Hour of Code,” where students practice computer coding skills. Computer science and coding not only prepare students for future job possibilities, they also help students think logically and solve problems. Students have to organize their code into the correct sequence of steps to accomplish their goal, and when their program doesn’t work out as planned, they need to make adjustments until it does. There are numerous free websites that provide entertaining game-like interfaces to teach coding skills. Elementary students from kindergarten through 5th grade can learn how to code. Kodable, the website pictured, is great for even your youngest pre-readers. I have listed many of the most popular resources here, and you can search my blog for past coding lessons I’ve taught. Let me know if you’d like me to teach a coding lesson with your class. It doesn’t even have to be during this week. Coding activities are beneficial anytime!
This week I haven’t been in my schools much because I’ve been doing VGLA scoring. However, some students at Holladay Elementary have been saving their Hawks tickets to earn a special VIP technology lesson as part of their school-wide behavior incentive. So I showed them how to create Mother’s Day videos using Pixie and iMovie. First they recorded themselves giving their moms a loving message. Then they drew a picture for their moms using Pixie. We exported it as a JPG file and brought it into iMovie so the picture showed up after their video. Finally they chose a soundtrack to accompany the video. I burned each movie to a DVD so their moms could view their special gift on a DVD player instead of on a computer. However, the DVD also included a digital copy of the movie and picture so they could post them to Facebook or email them to family members if they wanted. I don’t have any examples of these projects to share with you, but I do have an example I did a while ago with a kindergarten class at Crestview Elementary. It’s the same basic idea, except all the students were in the video instead of individual students like the ones we did this year.
An important reading skill in kindergarten is being able to identify the beginning sounds of words. To help students with this task I created a Keynote activity where the students type in the beginning letter and then push a button to find out if they are right or wrong. There are 15 different slides (you can see them all by clicking here). When the students get the answer right a green smiley face appears on the slide like in this picture. When they get an answer wrong a red sad face will appear so they can fix their mistake. If you’d like to expand the activity you can use the record feature on Keynote and instruct your students to record their voices reading the words aloud as the slideshow plays like in this example. You can download the activity by clicking here.
It’s time for many schools to have their annual student council elections. A great way to tally the votes quickly and easily is to make a Quia survey. Create the survey with the positions and the candidates’ names, send the link out to all the teachers, and the students vote by clicking on the names. Take a look at a sample from last year by clicking here. You can use this as a real-life graphing lesson too! Click “View results without submitting” at the beginning of the survey to see a bar graph of the number of votes for each candidate. You could even include photos of the candidates in your survey, but just keep in mind that it is a public website, unless you password protect it. One more thing, the picture on the sample was created using a very cool website called GoAnimate. You can add your own faces to cartoon characters and animate them.