Learn To Teach Coding Over The Summer

Seriously

It is super simple with CodeCampus! Watch the video below for a 2 minute description of what the site can do for your teaching. 

This is a great opportunity! CodeCampus gives you FREE easy to follow tutorial videos, so you can learn the basics of Scratch in about 4-5 hours.

I know that there are too many new things to teach, and not enough hours in the day.
Your district just got a new "insert subject here" curriculum that you have to learn.
You don't have enough time to fit an extra subject into the day.

Well non-believers, I think you should just start with CodeCampus and see how it goes. The first video gives you the "why's" of coding. Next, you get into your first actual coding assignment, and you are hooked. It is amazing the sense of accomplishment you feel after creating your first program.

The beauty of it is, that once you complete all the tutorials, you can see that you don't need extra time to fit coding in. There are times in your day when you could easily embed it into a content area. Have you ever given an assignment using Google Slides to demonstrate knowledge of a topic? Your students could do the same thing in Scratch, and be CODING, to get it done. Think there's no way to code an ELA assignment? Think again! There is a Mad Libs exercise you create on CodeCampus that will open your eyes to the possibilities. 

CodeCampus also gives you an abundance of lessons for K-6 classrooms. There are almost 32 weeks of curriculum for Scratch and Scratch Jr. that everyone can use. 

Give CodeCampus and Scratch a try to start the next school year. I am convinced if you start the year with 3 or 4 Scratch lessons, the students will be self-sufficient enough to keep going through the entire school year. They may even start coding at home on their own time.

If you still aren't convinced, here is the first episode of my new "Teaching In Beta" podcast with one of the original lead developers of Scratch, Natalie Rusk of MIT. 

Here's a link to the Scratch Coding Activity Cards we talk about in the podcast. 

10 Best Sites For Free Stock Photos

I like to create lists. They are useful to create and share in my job, because many times people will ask for apps, websites, lesson plans...lots of things. I use Listly to create these lists. They are easy to share and don't take a lot of time to make. You can head on over to my profile and see that I have over 100 different lists that I have made over the last five years. They range from useful lists of free apps to put on iPads, to absurd websites that are about Drake

I created a list of sites to get attribution free stock photos this week. There are some beautiful photos on these sites that people share to use however you want. I am currently trying to get some work done at the end of the school year, and taking the photos I have and loading them on to a Google Drive folder for students to use. Many of the sites listed below will email you ten images a week to download, if you sign up for their mailing list. It is a great way to get some photos and not have to search through the entire website. I have such a collection of stock photos now, I am currently trying to sort them in to categories for easy student use. 

I included ten sites and my three favorite tools to use with stock photos, at the bottom of the list. Hope you enjoy, and get a chance to look at the stock photos that are out there. The thing I love about these sites is that people are adding new content each day. Feel free to share it around! 

Four Great Student Created Short Films

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post

A great opportunity presented itself at this year's Signal To Noise Festival. I got the chance to interview some great students and talk to them about the films they submitted for this year. Director's Notes is a little session that we hold before the film awards every year. It is usually hosted by one of our great district film teachers, Kevin Bennett. He couldn't make it this year, and I have been podcasting for 4.5 years, so I figured I could fill in. What a cool job it was...I may never give it up. 

Director's Notes is a 30-45 minute session where we take a small room and open it up to show a few films and talk to the students that created them. This gives the audience a chance to see the films in their entirety and hear what the successes and challenges were in creating their films. It was a lot of fun, and we had a great space to show the movies at Aloha High School this year. Take a few minutes out of your day and watch some of these creative student films. Again, these videos are on Vimeo, so they may be blocked/filtered on district wifi. 

Beaverton-Hillsboro Science Expo 2017

The group of four girls from ACMA had to create this video in a matter of hours! They started shooting at noon, and had to have it ready to show at the close of the Science Fair at 4! 

Sandbox Science

The same group of girls had a world premiere of the video above. It was created for Hanna's capstone project in her senior year. She originally had a different edit of the film, with the above opening scene, as the final scene. I think she made the right choice with the video above. 

Life of a Raindrop

This is a tremendous animation video that ended up a winner at Signal To Noise for senior, Ben Johnson. It took him months to create the video, and the opening cloud sequence and the emotion on the faces of the raindrops were among his challenges. 

Cheating, The Music Video 

The final video was directed by two girls who I have worked with for the last two years. They created this great music video with an original song and different camera angles. I was pulling for them to win in the music video category, but they finished second. I hope they keep trying to create more films as they make the big jump to middle school. 

That's all I've got for today. I hope you took the time to watch at least one of the videos. Tomorrow I will hit you back with some great places to find attribution free stock videos for student projects. Sorry, if you were looking for that blog post on fidget spinners...it won't be coming any time soon. 

Signal To Noise Festival & Scratch Day Showcase

We just finished up with our district film festival, Signal To Noise. (Click if you want to see the site) It starts off with a little showcase of all the creative projects going on throughout the Beaverton School District. This year we even had a Scratch Day going on in one section, with students helping people create Scratch accounts and sharing their coding skills. 

A quick shot from our #bsdfutureready #scratchday last Thursday @s2nfestival

A post shared by Jon Samuelson (@ipadsammy) on

The list of different ideas shared by students and teachers was pretty impressive:

  • Osmos - demoed by a student
  • 3D printing - a scale model of Portland shared by a teacher
  • Book Trailers - demoed by students and teacher
  • Bloxels - demoed by a student
  • Stop Motion Video/Color Poems - shared by teachers
  • DoInk Animation - demoed by a student
  • Green Screen - demoed by a student
  • Dash Robot Coding Mazes - shared by a teacher
  • Ozobots & Spheros - shared by teachers & students
  • Makey Makeys - shared by a teacher & students
  • Oculus Rift & HTC Vive - shared by teachers & students 
  • EV3 Lego robotics & coding - shared by students
  • Graphic Design & Publication - shared by students
  • BB8 - shared by students

I will share more about the Director's Notes and talking to the student filmmakers tomorrow. For now, here is the opening to the Film Awards that happened after the showcase above. The ACMA students created this video in less than a week! (You will have to watch at home if Vimeo is blocked in your district.) 

Cam Newton Provides A Teachable Moment

The popular "teachable moment" happened yesterday

The "Big Game" provided us with a real world opportunity to share with students today. I love NFL football. I have spent many years talking about it with 4th and 5th graders over my years of teaching. One of our most popular math games was "fantasy football math." That would all end today with the final act known as "Big Game." Tomorrow we would go on with dreary old "regular" math for a while. 

Last night I saw something interesting in the postgame press conference. Cam Newton, who I really like, could not get himself through his press conference. He wore his hood over his head, (BTW I LOVE hoodies) and could barely answer questions. This goes against how we have seen him act all year. He acted very child-like and not like a grown man that had to answer some tough questions. It made me think, what did Russell Wilson say last year after his terrible defeat? Luckily I have Google, and I could see video of how he reacted last year. I think you could keep going on down the list of losing QB's and see what the results are. I only looked at Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning from the last two years. 

I think this is a great opportunity to teach students a life lesson using people that many elementary students idolize. I think it would be interesting to have students look up the videos on their own and compare and contrast the actions of both quarterbacks. If it were me, I would give them the assignment in Google Classroom, put students in groups, and let them research and discuss the differences in a Google Doc before bringing the class back for a discussion. 

There is a lot of information that would be good for students to process and reflect on. I would continue to go back to this example throughout the rest of the school year. 

I am not indicting Cam Newton. No one is perfect. I can't even begin to imagine how it would feel to be on the losing end of a game of that magnitude. I love how he gives footballs to kids in the crowd and all the other things he does for the community and the Play 60 campaign. However, I think the interview is a great talking point for students. I have provided the links for Cam Newton's interview, as well as Russell Wilson's from last year. There will be commercials. You have been warned. 

Cam Newton's Press Conference Link

Russell Wilson's Press Conference Link