Talking Devices

Let’s talk about which devices for which age group. During March, I attended a Digital Technologies 7-10 professional learning workshop which deconstructed the Western Australian Curriculum. It was a great opportunity to see what other teachers were doing in their schools and how they interpreted the DT curriculum.  For myself, one of the presenters, Maria D’Cunha from Hampton SHS, shared a story that gave me some confidence in how my journey was progressing. Like many of us, Maria was building her own Digital Technology skills and knowledge, she acknowledged that she was also learning, and not just her students. However, the biggest thing which she shared and which hit home for me was that she knew her students, she recognised that coding was something that many of her students knew nothing about and she started from that point. It didn’t matter that they were high school students, she gave them time to play and experiment with devices which many have labelled as being useful only for Early Childhood and Junior students. In Maria’s case, the devices available were BeeBots. BeeBot_blinking

So, why is this a big deal? Well, in my journey I have sat and listened to many teachers sharing their stories, and I have listened to the expectations of those developing the WA Digital Curriculum, and the message in some cases has been that within a high school setting students should be learning and using a scripting language. Now, this is doable for those students lucky enough to have had experienced a thorough ICT background with a passionate, qualified teacher and the available hardware/resources but not all students have had this opportunity. In fact, many students may not even have access to a computer or device at home, nor internet access. Starting your program at a lower level is ok and will give students time to develop the confidence, skills, and knowledge which they need. I am not saying don’t challenge students just put some time into introducing the basics, give them time to experiment and explore the new devices, software, and applications, before setting higher level tasks. We want students to develop a passion for Digital Technologies and not be turned off and frustrated by attempting tasks beyond their initial abilities.

So, what do you start with? If you are lucky enough to be in a DETWA Primary or District High school you would have received in Semester Two, last year, a Digital & Design Technology kit filled with robots and maker gadgets. This came with a document outlining which device/gadget was suitable for which age group, very handy for getting started. However, many schools are still in the process of purchasing suitable devices and it is a little confusing as to what may work for which age group. What can be recommended on device websites may not always work in the classroom setting or be appropriate for the curriculum. If you are hoping to reduce that frazzled teacher feeling (wishing you had extra limbs to be able to help all students at once) and you want students working independently with devices, it is worth putting in some time doing a little research.

My suggestion is to use your teacher network to gather information from those in the know who have used the devices and have hands on experience using them in the classroom. Having used several robots and devices myself I thought I would share my devicesopinion and what I had been advised by other educators in my professional network. I have created a document that compares the advice of the companies, DETWA and those in the classroom. If you are interested you can access it here in the curriculum resource page. It is a work in progress and if you feel you could contribute further information based on experience please take the time to email me. All suggestions and advice would be very welcome and helpful in completing the document.

Please remember that this is based on personal experience and just a suggestion, your own experience and the experiences of others may be completely different due to many factors, including student prior knowledge and the reliability of the technology infrastructure within your school.

Evolution…Ozobot talks!

Ok, so they may not actually talk but they do make sounds! The new Evo Ozobot looks awesome. For those of us who are already Ozobot fans and educators, this is super exciting.

ozobot-evo-box-packaging-a418abd2The new Evo has sensors which allow it to interact with objects in the environment, it has new lights, a speaker, can make sounds to suggest emotions and allows users to communicate through social media. You can use the Evo with tablets and smartphones. Much like our old favourite 2.0 Ozobot it can be programmed with either colour codes or block coding. New codes have been developed to match the new features, students will enjoy adding sound to their programming.

The sad thing is that us Aussies are not yet able to purchase an Evo 😦

There is a preorder set up on the Ozobot website, however, when trying to place an order from Australia you are hit with a $100US shipping fee! I think you will find that even if you have the money to pay they will notify you that they don’t ship to Australia (as happened to me previously). Let’s hope that Edtech get in on the action quickly and makes them available here.

If you would like more info about the Evo check out the links below:

 

 

Little Coders…try and try again!

The one thing about little coders are they never let you down. They’re always full of beans and excited to be part of your class. This week my little coders (Yr. 1/2) were super keen and had a double dose of coding! They experienced a great robot and coding incursion by Gecko Steps and getting hands on with Ozobots in our DT class.

I was kinda proud when the Gecko Steps presenter asked the class “What do you think these things are? (pointing to holes on front of the robot)” and quick as a flash two students replied with “Sensors! Eyes to see with!”

In the last three lessons, we have looked at robots in real life, learnt about the components of the the Ozobots, discovered that sensors are a bit like your eyes (sensitive) and learn’t about how to draw colour code tracks for our robots. We have begun to learn the basic Ozobot colour code symbols. What we did wrong when drawing these and how to fix them, if we make a mistake?

To stretch their knowledge further and give them a chance to demonstrate what they know, I have designed a fun Ozobot cityscape lesson. I am hoping this will give them more time to absorb and remember the various codes, plus get them problem solving and finding solutions.

The inspiration for the task came from picklebums.com, gotta love that name. Kate Pickle (at least I think that’s her name) has a cute envelop city activity  which looks like loads of fun. My version has student’s coding the roads of their city for Ozobot traffic. Picking up code cards, as they make their way from building to building and problem solving how to use each code to reach their destination.

If you would like a copy of the lesson download it from here Envelope City Challenge 1 Mentioned in the lesson plan is a set of OZOBOT COLOUR CODES cards which I created. You need the cards to complete the lesson. The cards needed to be printed in colour and laminated. They are very useful for teaching any of the Ozobot lessons.

Have a great week everyone 🙂

 

First biscitmx.com blog post!

Welcome everyone to the biscitmx.com blog. At this stage what I hope to do is post a weekly blog, why only weekly? Well, like most of you I am busy working. At the moment I am working four and a half days, teaching Yr.1-10, so life is a little crazy. I am learning new skills across a range of subject areas, including furthering my Digital Technologies knowledge. This semester I am currently teaching coding to Yr. 1/2, Yr. 5/6, Yr. 7/8 and Yr. 9/10.

Last semester I focused on using OZOBOT robots and learning how to code by colour and block coding. We coded with textas and paper, iPads and computers. My Yr. 9/10 class explored augmented reality and how we can use it in a real world environment.

This semester some classes are learning about robots and are coding with the OZOBOT for the first time. My Yr. 7/8 class are beginning the journey in using and creating with script code. We are using Microsoft Small Basic, a very simple start that is user friendly with a series of lessons available online to help get them started. I like Small Basic because it is FREE, always a bonus, and because of its simplicity. I didn’t want to scare students off with complex script writing. We have also been looking at the history of gaming and gaming consoles. Students are playing and writing reports on a game (pre 1999). It has been fun with me having serious flashbacks to my childhood…Pong anyone? The students have had previous experience block coding and creating games with Scratch. As we become more familiar with Small Basic script coding we will create our own retro style game.

On my learning agenda is 3D printing. I hope to teach myself Tinker cad and get our newly purchased 3D printer up and running. My first project is looking at printing ‘print blocks’ to use in both my Textiles and Graphic Design classes. I am hoping that this may reduce the time frame required when creating lino print blocks, and perhaps the quality of the prints onto fabric or paper. I will let you know how it goes. Any advice would be very appreciated, so please do share what you have tried, what worked or what didn’t.