Monday, January 14, 2019

Minnetonka High School Students Design Apps in Introduction to Computer Science


Last week I was able to see five student groups present their app prototypes during their Introduction to Computer Science class at Minnetonka High School. It was fun to see the creative ideas they came up with as solutions to problems and needs for other students--including apps to deliver food to apps, apps to learn content like trivia and math facts, and an app to help new students navigate around the building. Intro to Computer Science is a semester long course offered at our high school either in person or online in the summer. The face to face class meets in The Loft, a beautifully newly remodeled space just opened up this school year.

Instructor Nick Bahr explained that students had two weeks for this app development unit. They use Code.org’s App Lab for the curriculum lessons and program to develop their prototypes. Students chose to work individually or in groups and began by selecting the need or problem for which to create an app. They did market research looking at existing products and brainstormed ideas for a possible app, working out prototypes first on paper that were shown to others to gather feedback. Then they built their app prototype, testing it out and debugging it along the way. Students also then solicited feedback from peers and/or individuals who would be potential users of their creation. At the end, they created a presentation about this whole process and gave this presentation to their classmates on the day I was there. They also reflected on their work with one another and answered questions from classmates.  

One example of this project and presentation is embedded above. Calista, Ella, and Angelina did an excellent job of describing each step of their process in their presentation. You can view their math facts app for elementary students called Math Popper, complete with 45 different screens and an interactive game at the end. The Trivia app created was called Turbo Falso. The two apps to order food from the school cafe (called The Cove) are B.A.B.A. and Cove Delivery. Finally,  Freshy Maps is the app to help newcomers at the school find their way around the building.

On the presentation slides for the B.A.B.A. app (Bread Acquisition Banana Associates), the students wrote the following comments in the notes section of the slides which give you more insight not only into their thought process but also how much learning took place for this project:

Market Research:
It’s pretty clear that there is no such system to deliver any food between classrooms, so the thought just inspired us to cook up such an idea, like an indoor delivery service. We discovered that it isn’t quite common to do something like it, and it would be a somewhat unique idea

Paper Prototype:
This is our paper prototype for our app. It starts with a screen that you enter in your school lunch pin and a room number. Then you are taken to the menu where you can select certain items and order them. This takes down your balance and if your balance goes below 0 after ordering something you are taken to the insufficient funds screen where you can add more to your balance or sign out. Otherwise if your balance is not below 0 you will be taken to the order success screen after ordering which would send us/the cove an email saying what has been ordered and you can continue on to the delivery time screen where it tells you if you delivery has been sent an how much time it will take for your delivery to arrive.

Digital Screen Designs:
All of us had to come with a design and order, then came together making our own individual screens and combining them together, making somewhat of a quilt of different art styles We had to make some adaptations to our screens and how they are ordered from our paper prototype, such as having to remove the email and time to delivery screen due to complications with coding them. In addition, we decided to make the insufficient funds and add to balance screens separate in order to allow for people without a negative balance to add funds to their account from the menu screen by clicking the Add to Funds button. Also we added to the menu screen by making it so that if you clicked the checkbox it shows an image of the selected food item.

User Feedback:
When we showed our app to others, people thought it would be helpful. One person said that he gets hungry during the day, but doesn’t want to leave class or get a tardy from trying to get to the cove and our app would fit that need perfectly. Even though he liked the concepts, he said that we should change the color and font because they were ugly.

Future Work:
A theme to sum this all up, is to give actual access to the school accounts, and the power to change the money of the students

Reflections:
What was hard? Getting the work done on time was a bit challenging. Keeping all group members on topic and focusing on producing the best work and making a functioning app that serves its intended purpose.
What we did to get around it? We, as a group used strong communication with each other to relay ideas and what works to each other. We also had good group chemistry so we could pull together to overcome anything one of us may have struggled with.
What We Learned? We learned programming in JavaScript. We learned that it is relatively easy with blocks, but importantly, we learned what the order of certain functions in JavaScript need to look like in order to work. A lot of times the program just follows a pattern and unlike humans follow exactly what you tell it.
What Is the next step? The next step is to (with permission granted) expand the Baba app to have more that just our id numbers, so having everyone in the school. All this would require is to add more lines of code for specific numbers, or a range of them.

More about this class
As described in the course catalog, the course takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as programming, physical computing, HTML/CSS, and data. The course inspires students as they build their own websites, apps, games, and physical computing devices. The course focuses heavily on problem solving, web development, and JavaScript programming. The programming unit consists of an animations and games unit, as well as a final unit focusing on app development. Students will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to continue their computer science studies regardless of the path the student decides to take.

To learn more about coding in Minnetonka K-12, please see some of the related posts listed below:

      Monday, January 7, 2019

      40+ Ideas for Coding Across the Curriculum in Middle School: Math, Band, Language Arts, Science, Spanish & More

      Back in December our elementary schools tracked over 7,300 hours of coding for the International Hour of Code. Our middle schools students also did a lot of coding in a wide variety of classes, too. Below is a list of the projects and work students at both of our middle schools did. Lisa Reed, middle school coding coach, asked teachers to post a short summary and some photos. Note that each of these listed below is in addition to the activities students did within specific coding classes like technology education, STEM classes, and elective coding courses:
      1. My 7th grade life science classes created mitosis animations using Scratch. For most of them this was their first time using the Scratch platform. They found it challenging, but fun!
      2. My LA classes did a shield design code activity. It enhanced their understanding of character traits related to their own family.  
      3. My Math 6 and Pre Alg 6 students worked on Khan Academy using JavaScript to create a drawing. I challenged them to “Meet or Beat the Teacher.” 
      4. My 7th grade Pre-Algebra class used Spheros to test different speeds and distances!
      5. My 6th Grade Comp Math class used the Sphero bots to compete in a 100cm Dash. They needed to use coding and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers to get to exactly 100 cm. Once they completed this task they were tasked with creating code to maneuver the bots around the perimeter of the classroom without hitting any desks or chairs. 
      6. 8th Grade Global Studies used the Flag Coding on Grok Learning.  Students were able to do basic coding to create world flags and also had a chance to create their own.  Some students even continued to work on it over break! 
      7. 7th Grade Science students did an hour of code before break. I introduced it with talking about how coding relates to their lives whether they pursue science and coding directly or not, showed them a video about the Hour of Code and then gave them 4 choices of which coding apps to explore. Flappy bird was the favorite with many students. 
      8. The 6th grade science students were able to pick the lesson based on their comfort level. We encouraged type coding with Karel the Dog and Khan Academy lessons in web development and Javascript. Students also really enjoyed the lesson 'Code Machine' in Swift Playground. 
      9. My Comp math students did Learn to Code with Swift Playgrounds.  They enjoyed their time coding! We discussed how it relates to math and their daily lives! 
      10. My Pre-Algebra students explored the linear relationship between time, distance, and speed with the Spheros! It was a fun learning experience for all!
      11. My global studies classes at MMW are coding the flags of the world today! So far the students are enjoying the challenge and seeing different flags from countries around the world. 
      12. In Advisory, we did a quick tutorial on how to make a Pong Game. It was frustrating that students moaned and groaned when they learned they'd be coding, but I think that's because it's always so challenging! This tutorial had nice, easy, step by step instructions with many things being customizable, and after 26 minutes, several students commented how fun that was!
      13. In Comp Math, students were able to explore several different coding apps including swift playground, Tynker, and hopscotch. We talked about how coding relates to math and how they might use this in the future.
      14. My Global Studies classes coded “Flags of the World” with Grok Learning.  Not only was it fun to see flags from around the world, but it was a challenge to create the designs with code.  Students loved it.  They coded some common flags then designed their own! 
      15. For one day in math class we worked through the Khan Academy lesson on coding.  Students designed a snowman using Javascript.  They learned how to draw ellipses, rectangles and lines and to color it in and to make it move.  They felt very professional using Javascript.
      16. This week I did painting with Spheros for my hour of code. It was a lot of fun! In Social Skills we discuss a lot about the Zones of Regulation. Students needed to create a painting representing their zone by using the app to move the Sphero through the paint. The other activity we did was mini golf using the awesome course that the Hub Club created! It took a lot of collaboration and teamwork.
      17. Students used Scratch in Spanish to make short animations in Spanish related to the book we are reading in Spanish Immersion Culture.  There were varying skill levels and the more experienced students were great about helping others.
      18. My 6th grade students completed the online coding activity called "Karol the dog" and then had a choice of which coding activity they wanted to complete from code.org.
      19. My 7th grade students coded stop motion videos through BrainPOP to show their knowledge of organisms, cells, and chromosomes.
      20. Students in my science classes will spend two days on coding activities. Day 1: Choice of Swift Playground Code Machine, Microsoft Minecraft, or Tynker.  Day 2:  Olympic curling with the Sphero
      21. Today my class is working on solving a Breakout EDU using code. Although this is an unplugged activity, it will help to introduce how coding can be used in situations other than technology. We will also be working with Spheros tomorrow and completing our hour of code on Friday with The Incredible Code Machine challenge in Swift 
      22. Today we celebrated Code Week by creating solar system models using a Tynker Hour of Code tutorial! Students set initial positions of planets, then used loops to move planets in orbital patterns.  They followed up by setting the program to pop up the name of the planet when a user touched the planet.
      23. 6th graders programmed Spheros to communicate secret messages using Morse code!!
      24. In 6th Grade Language Arts my students spent time exploring and coding with the Tynker app!
      25. In 6th grade science, my students focussed on Javascript and HTML programming!
      26. Thursday in Global Studies we coded flags of the world through Grok Learning. Students successfully coded the flag of Libya and some attempted harder designs like Ukraine and the Bahamas.  They caught on pretty quickly and I even learned how to code.  Super fun! 
      27. My 7th grade science students participated in the Hour of Code. Students were tasked with making their own popular app games. Students created and made their own twists on Flappy Bird and Crossy Road!
      28. We're doing hour of code today in 6th grade science. Students were able to pick from a list of code options based on their skill level. The intro is Karel the Dog, intermediate is Java with Khan Academy, and some students were beyond these options and worked on their own projects.
      29. Yesterday, we did an Hour of Code in Algebra classes. The videos encouraging coding and computer science classes were excellent for the students to see! It got them engaged immediately, and they had the choice which modules to work on once they filtered their options on code.org. I also checked out laptops for more options, which many appreciated. Beginners created their own Google logo and games. Advanced students even ventured further!
      30. This past week, I did a 2 day lesson sequence about coding with my 6th grade science students. On the first day, I had a guest speaker from Microsoft who ended up introducing the technology and computer science field to my students. She showed them coding projects she has recently been working on, as well as some fun websites that the students could try out and then see the code behind them.
      31. I did hour of code with my Math Comp Students. They did an awesome job of coding on the Coordinate Plane with Codesters! It was so fun to see them finding success!
      32. 8th grade global studies students coded flags from all over the world! Then students were able to create and code their own personal flag using colors that represent and symbolize them! 
      33. My 6th graders spent Hour of Code with Karel the Dog.  The students also worked their way through other Hour of Code programs including Scratch and Minecraft.
      34. My 8th grade Advisory did an Hour of Code tutorial of their choice over two Advisory periods.  I conducted a short survey afterward to get feedback from them. Most were able to work on more than one tutorial as they had prior experience with Hour of Code and languages.  
      35. Students coded with the Edison robots. Although it was just a taste of Robotics, I was proud to see the students troubleshoot their problems.
      36. My 8th grade geometry students used python to create programs that “did the math for them.” This unit is on circumference and area of circles, sectors, and segments, so students had plenty of formulas to pick from and practice with!
      37. My 8th Grade Band classes did the Hour of Code activity: Code the Music of Franz Liszt. They followed the step-by step instructions to properly code the various musical voice parts (treble vs. bass clef) along with repeats and various sections in the song. Then at the end, they were able to make their own changes to the music including title, notes, tempo, and rhythm. They took a screenshot of their final product and submitted it as a formative assessment. 
      38. My comp math class did a coordinate plane hour of code to help review before our tables and graphs test next week. Two of my students finished the tutorial and were able to design their own coordinate plane code pictures.
      39. My social skill classes worked with the Ozobots today (from the hub cart) and had a blast! They were given various options such as: set up a bowling game, set up Ozobot races, or explore and play with the website ozoblockly.com. A great takeaway from today was how advanced kids are with coding!! I literally took the back seat with teaching this activity and they took over, which was great.
      40. We did the Khan Academy Drawing with Javascript activity.  Here are some pictures of snowmen that the kids made.  The ones who got the farthest made the 3 circles, a rectangular base and 2 arms.  We did not get to coloring the background in class. If they did the steps in order, Khan told them what they needed.
      41. My classes today had a professional coder from Target come and talk about his experiences coding and how his day to day work looks.
      42. Comp Math students used App Inventor, a blocks programming language, and "The Hub" Nexus Tablet devices to create math apps. Students chose a topic that they recently studied as content for their game. They added sound and original artwork to personalize their games. At the end the students got to play each other's games. 
      To learn more about coding in Minnetonka K-12, please see some of the related posts listed below:

      Monday, December 31, 2018

      Easy New Year's Resolution: Add 40 Vacation Days to 2019 by Cutting Back on Social Media

      The average time spent per day on social media in 2018 for most adults is around 40 minutes: Facebook users spent around 41 minutes per day, Snapchat users spend around 35 minutes per day and Instagram around 30 minutes per day. Back in 2016 Facebook reported that the average user spent 50 minutes per day across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Depending on the age of the adult some spend more or less--for example younger adults spend more time on Snapchat and Instagram. (Source) While 30-50 minutes per day may not sound like much, added up over an entire year the numbers get startling when converted to eight hour work days. This seems more reasonable than converting to 24 hour days since (hopefully) no one is on social media 24 hours a day:
      • 30 minutes/day=183 hours/year, or almost 23 eight hour work days (over 4.5 weeks of vacation) 
      • 40 minutes/day=243 hours/year, or over 30 eight hour work days (six weeks of vacation) 
      • 50 minutes/day=304 hours/year, or over 38 eight hour work days (almost eight weeks of vacation) 
      Imagine adding this amount of time to your life in the coming year! Even if you aren't spending this much time per day on social media (perhaps you are on Netflix?) consider these numbers:
      • 5 minutes/day=30 hours/year, or almost 4 eight hour work days
      • 10 minutes/day=61 hours/year, or almost 7.5 eight hour work days
      • 15 minutes/day=91 hours/year, or almost 11.5 eight hour work days
      • 20 minutes/day=122 hours/year, or over 15 eight hour work days (a three-week vacation)
      In October I ended a one year Facebook/Instagram fast. In the past my longest break from Facebook had been about seven months and prior to that three months. Since ending this fast I've barely opened either tool. When I do I'm reminded of why I went cold turkey and stopped looking at it completely: I find it to be a time drain, a nearly endless string of posts that often don't improve my relationship with my friends and family. It seems to me that amount of non-essential posts such as check-ins at restaurants, posts about shopping or some link to a video is exponentially greater than the posts about something I really need to know.

      A
      s I wrote before, I really wish there was a way to get the most important updates and highlights from my connections without having to scroll through so much other stuff. Over the past year I've had more and more family and friends who have actually gone as far as deleting their account. I haven't done that...yet. (For more on that, check out this NYTimes article, Breaking up with Facebook is hard to do: Here's how.) But as I pay more attention to the amount of time I spend on social media and entertainment screen time, I've started thinking about what I'm not doing...and what I used to do years ago before these tools existed. It's not just Facebook that I'm monitoring. It's Twitter, Instagram, the Apple News Feed, YouTube, and more. Apple's new Screen Time tool is a great help with this personal monitoring as well as talking with my kids about their use and time allocation. 

      So as I self-reflect and encourage my own family to monitor time on social media, I encourage you to do the same. Set limits and don't fill the extra time you gain with other forms of entertainment technology. As a family we continue to try to spend time together, playing board games, going on walks, sports, crafts, and even scheduling fun time together. Reflect on what you did before social media was part of your daily routine and help your kids, relatives and friends experience and build relationships through these activities, too, maintaining a healthy balance of social media and entertainment technology. 
      Read more about this topic through these related posts: 

      Monday, December 24, 2018

      Be Where Your Feet Are: High School Edition



      I first wrote about "be where your feet are" almost four years ago. It was a phrase I had heard from one of our media specialists, Kelli Whiteside. She used this phrase with her family to remind them to focus on the people around them and not their screens. I adopted this phrase with my own family and share it with students and parents when I present on digital health and wellness. 

      Recently our high school students and staff put together a video (above) for the students to help remind them to be where their feet are in the hallways and classrooms at school, encouraging them to be present with those around them. This was shown during the morning school wide televised announcements. Through some funny scenarios students can see what might happen when they are too distracted by their personal devices to really be aware to what's going on around them. At the end the principal, Jeff Erickson, quotes Ferris Bueller and reminds students, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  Very true! With the New Year just a week away, consider setting a resolution so spend more time being where your feet are. It's certainly something one which many of us could improve.

      Related posts: