A plan for teaching coding and robotics from home

When our school shut down in March, initially, it was for a two-week period. I thought, “Well, this isn’t too bad, we can do a few coding activities from Code.org or maybe put together some Google Slides presentations for when we return.”

Then, two weeks turned into the end of April and my plan had to change.

As the technology teacher in our district, I felt I was adept at communicating with my students online (we are a Google Apps for Education school, and I’ve been a Google Classroom user since its beginnings), but I knew others in our district weren’t quite as tech savvy. I put together a few tutorial videos on how to use Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Zoom for our staff members to use to reach out to their students.…Read More

FREE professional development courses

TEQ had made all of our PD courses FREE to help schools implement distance learning and online professional development.

There are two pathways to getting an account:

  • Any individual can sign up
  • Any district that wants an account for all of their teachers can fill out the form at the link and get a group code from us that they can share with all of their teachers. We will need information from them to generate the code.

The website that outlines the free OTIS resources: https://www.teq.com/remote-learning/…Read More

The coolest K-12 robotics programs we saw at ISTE

Efforts to get kids coding have exploded in recent years, but sometimes kids need a push to discover the “why” behind learning how to code. At ISTE 2019, that push to learn coding was clear as new K-12 robotics solutions emerged.

Aside from the cool factor K-12 robotics offers, students who learn to program through robotics learn a number of skills they’ll take with them well into adulthood, including creativity, problem solving, and the ability to fail without quitting.

We’ve rounded up some of the best K-12 robotics solutions and programs we saw during the conference. Share your favorite K-12 robotics programs with us on Twitter @eschoolnews.…Read More

Why I use student-driven ideas in my curriculum

You might think that teaching a high school programming course in which students are asked to code simple games and interactive websites would be motivating and exciting, but there are unforeseen elements of dealing with the teenage brain and the influences on their lives that seem to creep into the most well-designed plans. Students come to class with various types of anxiety, fears, and coping issues from daily stresses. They are also distracted with social media and the availability of instant information at their fingertips. As teachers, how do we keep them engaged and focused on their learning with the overwhelming amount of social and emotional distractions in their lives?

Student-driven ideas: the key to keeping students engaged

Keeping students on task is a constant challenge, so when I observed some students playing an online game when they were supposed to be working on an assignment, my first reaction was to ask them to close the program. Then I began to wonder why they were so fixated on playing this particular game. I wasn’t dealing with the typical Fortnite addiction; this was an escape-room game. (If you are not familiar with an escape-room game, Wikipedia defines it as a “physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategies to complete the objectives at hand.” I asked these students why they liked this game and they eagerly gave me their reasons, which revolved around conquering a personal challenge.

I realized that students didn’t seem thrilled about the work I asked them to do. Instead, they decided to switch to something different that caught their attention and motivated them to challenge themselves. My lesson had some important elements of coding included so I didn’t want to toss it out completely, but I wondered if I could use the “escape room” idea to spark a new level of interest in my plans. Should I let my student’s interest and/or distraction drive my curriculum?…Read More

4 Fresh Approaches to Coding in The Classroom

Coding is one of the most crowded categories in edtech. And while there are a ton of great tools for students of any ability level, many of these tools have hit on the same formula. So whether you’re prepping for Hour of Code or looking to launch a coding unit or curriculum in your classroom, lab, or library, it’s tough to find the right solution or even determine what separates one from another. Thankfully, there are a few developers out there breaking the mold and doing something different.

These developers are not just iterating on the tried-and-true coding formula but exploring new frontiers that offer students new ways to learn—from VR and hardware hacking to on-the-go learning to courses and curriculum that blend technical skills with “soft” skills.

Hardware hacking: Pi-Top and Piper
Computer scientists and software engineers know it’s important for coders to have an understanding of how computers are made and how they work. Knowing a bit about the hardware side of things helps inform a programmer’s understanding of why code works the way it does. As someone who likes to build his own computers, I can also say it’s just flat-out fun to put together a PC and swap in and out components. It’s like the nerdier version of hot rodding.…Read More

7 engaging resources for the Hour of Code

It’s that time of year again—nestled between Thanksgiving and winter break is Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code, offering super-cool activities to keep restless students engaged in programming challenges.

This year, educators are focusing on all the things that make computer science education important and necessary for today’s students—namely, how programming builds skills like critical thinking and problem solving that help students in daily life, the fact that these students will have STEM-focused careers (including some that don’t yet exist), and the need to fill programming jobs that sit empty due to a lack of highly qualified workers.

Computer science drives innovation throughout our economy, according to stats on Code.org, but it remains marginalized in the K-12 education system. Just 15 states have adopted policies to give all high school students access to computer science courses, and of those 15, only 6 states give all K-12 students access to computer science courses.…Read More

Why we love our reading software

It’s no secret that strong reading skills are part of the foundation of students’ academic success. Without a solid reading foundation, students are more likely to perform poorly or drop out of school.

Students don’t have to stick to paperback books to cultivate a love of reading, however—there are digital platforms that keep students engaged, pinpoint areas where students need to improve and give them the tools to do so, and also send important data to teachers for more individualized instruction.

Here, educators share their favorite reading software and offer insight into what makes these specific tools so helpful in supporting students’ reading habits.…Read More

What motivates girls to pursue STEM?

It’s a persistent and troubling problem: Why are girls so underrepresented in STEM clubs and subjects in K-12 through college, and why are there so many more men than women in STEM fields?

The call for equal representation is becoming louder, and society is striving to solve glaring gender gaps in STEM graduates and STEM fields across the country. The numbers tell an alarming story about female representation in STEM education and fields.

According to Girls Who Code, fewer than 20 percent of computer science graduates are women. Today, only 24 percent of computer scientists are women, and by 2027, just 22 percent of women will be represented in the field.…Read More

Blog: Technology Creates Dynamic Insights at Tampa Preparatory School

At the Tampa Preparatory School, the mission is to provide students “a preparation for life with a higher purpose than self.” Each classman must abide by an honor code and resolve to make a positive difference both in the school and outside world by being honest, respectful, trustworthy, and fair.

Conversely, the educators and staff at Tampa Prep promise to create a place where young people can Think, Create, Be Themselves, Aspire to Excellence and Go Beyond. Students are encouraged to reflect and analyze on the path to personal understanding. They are asked to celebrate the imagination in geometric proofs and formal essays, on canvas, the computer, and stage, in poetry readings and morning assemblies. They are taught to respect people’s differences. And, they are guided toward winning attitudes in academics, athletics and arts so that they may meet the challenges that exist beyond their communities and experiences.

The academy offers concentrated studies in the academic areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Global Studies and Art.…Read More