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2020

During the teaching of the AQ Course called Integration of Information and Computer Technology in Instruction, I often introduce students to the work of Ron Ritchhart and Project Zero from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. I’ve written more comprehensively about collaboration with colleagues that started my learning, the book Making Thinking Visible and an especially powerful prompt that I’ve had success with called I Used to Think…Now I Think…

After spending considerable time experimenting with the thinking routines that translate best into online environments my favourites seem to involve questions for reflection and journaling and are as powerful for us as adult learners as they are for students–for example:

  • What Makes You Say That?
  • I Used to Think…Now I Think…
  • See, Think, Wonder
  • Chalk Talk
  • Headlines

I was SO delighted today, to see Ron Ritchhart’s post on exactly this topic as well as his mention of new book that is a follow-up to Making Thinking Visible and is on pre-order at the moment – hope that comes to Canada soon as it would make a perfect book study for us!

Using Thinking Routines with Distance Learning

Check out Ron’s post for some thoughts on Thinking Routines that translate well to online spaces, and stay tuned for expansion of CodeToLearn@home to include PL Sessions for teachers that focus on designing effective learning experiences for online spaces. We are so excited to begin hosting those, and hope you will join in!

I’d love some feedback too…would a PL session like this be of value to you? What are your needs around PL for designing rich tasks for remote learning? 

Taking IT Global is an Ontario based not-for-profit organization that has been empowering youth and supporting educators for 20 years. peter.skillen and I are involved in a project called Code To Learn in partnership with Cisco, Deloitte, FCL, and LCSI.  I'm also involved in the Connected North program, which usually serves mainly remote and/or Indigenous northern communities, and now also has a remote learning format that all teachers and students can currently enjoy. 
Here's what you need to know and follow for continued content: 
We have moved our programs into the '@home' versions to accommodate remote learning with CodetoLearn@home and ConnectedNorth@home content for students - both live and through video recordings. We are also beginning to build in some teacher professional learning sessions. 
Follow @CanCodeToLearn on twitter for continued updates! 
Many more program resources are also here on CanCodeToLearn.ca

 

  • ConnectedNorth@home - Sessions for this week - http://connectednorth.org/athome  - ***NEW You will also notice an Additional Resource Tab on the website. This connects you to other content from our providers that is often available in .pdf versions for lessons, extensions and information for students packets if the videos are too internet dependent. 
  • ConnectedNorth@home - Video Recordings thus far - https://vimeo.com/channels/connectednorth 
As mentioned above, we are also introducing several PD sessions for teachers and one this week that I would highly recommend to help you plan for remote learning is Using Interactive Choice Boards on Tuesday, April 21 at 4:00 pm - Click to join here: http://codetolearn.ca/athome I can't wait to be learning from Melanie and Tina this week!
Description: 
Teachers! How do we provide learning experiences that appeal to a variety of learners and connect multiple subject areas when students are learning from home? How do we offer students and families options in how they engage in and demonstrate learning? Interactive choice boards/grids might be a place to start! During this session, Ontario educators tinazita and mulcasterm will show us why and how they are using common digital presentation tools to design creative and engaging places for students to begin their learning. Suitable for any area: themes, inquiry, content topics, curated activities.

Due to my past work as an Educational Consultant, I have been getting lots of questions from neighbours, friends and family about how to manage this unusual time. So in the spirit of supporting one another, I thought I would write a blog post on the topic. Can you imagine if you would have been told months ago that in March, April and perhaps May you will begin to work from home, care for your children at the same time and see no one else outside of your immediate family? I think we would have all found it preposterous. 

The new normal is one in which we are caring for children while trying to manage work responsibilities. I would say firstly try not to get anxious about what is or isn’t getting done. Do your best to think of this time together as a unexpected event and approach it from that perspective:

  • Don’t be hard on yourself or your children
  • Don’t try to mimic school
  • Be flexible in your daily schedule
  • Observe your children and be responsive to what they are demonstrating
  • Emphasize the importance of reading during this time
  • Offer choice and decision-making to children
  • Accept that screen time will increase during this time period but review websites, games and apps that are being played to make sure they are developmentally appropriate
  • Address your children’s questions and fears through conversation
  • Try to embed small moments of joy into your day

 

During this time, alternative approaches to building knowledge and experience will allow your youngsters to engage in learning but not feel like they are in school. The strategies below will have to be adjusted to meet the needs of your child but a framework that I suggest using for young children (grades K-6) is to divide the day in loose blocks: moving our bodies, play, educational activities and daily household stuff. 

Moving our Bodies - Providing opportunity for movement is important and although social distancing means we can’t spend as much time outdoors as we would like, we can still go on short walks and bike rides to enjoy fresh air (adhering to City of Toronto Public Health guidelines). Something beautiful in this time of crisis is the number of rainbows and teddy bears that you might see in your neighbourhood: perfect for children to look out for and count. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden then spending time there is another suggestion. There are lots of fun ways to exercise indoors with children from dance and yoga to tag and hide and seek. 

Play - If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools that they require to be successful. Through play children learn about themselves and their world. It is through play that children: figure out how things work and connect, develop new ideas, solve problems, innovate and learn to co-operate and collaborate with others. Make sure your children have access to favourite toys and  loose parts such as blocks, LEGO, and recyclable materials so that they can let their imaginations run wild. Encourage them to play for long periods of sustained time. Bring out toys that they may have forgotten about or outgrown and they may be inspired to play with them again.

Educational Activities - This would be the time to prioritize work shared by your child’s teacher, (Zoom classroom meetings, Google classroom assignments or suggested activities) as well any inquiries that have been identified by your child. What are they passionate about? What interests them? Before an inquiry starts, spend time talking to see what your child already knows about the subject, use that as the starting point and let your child be the driver of the learning. Their questions will be the starting points for a study. This can be applied to any topic from ladybugs, to map-making to building bridges to learning about the human body. Not all topics have the same stamina so interest in designing and building towers may last for days whereas studying birds’ nests only lasts for an afternoon. Your role is multi-faceted and will include being a facilitator, materials manager, investigator and supporter. 

Daily Household Stuff - There are so many wonderful opportunities for learning that arise during our daily lives that we can invite our children to participate in. From making meals and walking the dog to sorting laundry, depending on your child’s age and interest level, they may be really enthusiastic about helping tackle those daily tasks. Think of ways they can be involved and praise their efforts. Also note that these are rich learning opportunities as well: baking cookies helps teach about the importance of measurements and folding clothes can start a conversation about sewing and where our clothes are made.

There are a multitude of free online resources to help you navigate this time, but I would definitely begin with these ones:

Learn at Home - TVOKids

Story Place - The Children's Digital Library

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems

Canadian Geographic

How Stuff Works

ScienceBob

CosmicKids

In closing, these are very stressful times for all of us, children included. Their routines have been disrupted, they miss their school friends, are no longer participating in outside activities and haven’t seen relatives and family friends in weeks. They need extra comfort, patience and support as they make sense of their new reality. We are their entire world right now and despite the worries and concerns that we have, our children are looking to us to let them know that eventually things will return to normal and that they will return to school and activities and be able to resume all the things they love to do.

peter.skillen

Coding? Now!? Who Cares?

Posted by peter.skillen Apr 14, 2020

Note: Learning resources, webinars, and webinar recordings are posted below. SHARE widely.

Why Code Now?

These are challenging times. There are many important needs that teachers and students have—now, more than ever. So why would I post about 'coding'?!

 

Well, if you know me, you'll know:

 

  • I'm a little cantankerous at times about the current 'coding' and 'computational thinking' movement, and
  • I have deeply held beliefs about working with children to encourage and support their development as learners, human beings, and as members of a learning community.

 

**LOOK TO THE LEARNER poster: LOGO - First Children's Programming Language:

1986 Conference Title Belies Our Beliefs (w Lynda Colgan)

 

It is these I draw on now—as my colleagues and I create activities, webinars, and sites that kids and teachers can use as inspiration. Programming a computer should be an opportunity for children to think, to learn, and to be delighted! It should not be an assignment.

 

You can find much about these beliefs throughout my blog—particularly in the following posts (and others—have a browse):

 

 

"Programming a computer should be an opportunity for children to think, to learn, and to be delighted! It should not be an assignment."

Who Cares?

I care. I have cared for 40 years. I believe it is one area that provides a playground, or as Seymour Papert would have said, a 'mudpie' for kids (learners) to play—and, therefore, learn.

 

And, right now, I crave mudpies.

Code to Learn at Home!

I have been part of the federally funded CanCode Code To Learn project for several years now—an initiative funded by the Canadian government to support the learning of computational thinking, coding, and digital skills by our students and educators. TakingITGlobal runs the Code To Learn program.

 

Given the circumstances, and like many others, we have quickly adapted our program to serve Canadians in online spaces through CodeToLearn.ca/athome.

 

Up to now, we have been offering webinars and recordings on coding with Lynx and with micro:bits. We will continue this but will expand to include other useful digital skills and embed these in rich learning tasks that might provide a deeper and more useful context. As Brenda Sherry explains in her post "Thinking Routines – Definitely great for remote learning!" we are asking you what you need as Canadian teachers that we might be able to provide or support. So, please advise!

 

I will be following up this post with notions on 'knowledge construction' which actually has its roots in online learning spaces. We will also develop webinars to support that, if it might be useful to you.

What's Available Now?

Lynx Coding Free for Canadians

 

Lynx is a text-based, cloud-based programming environment that is the natural next step for kids that are ready to move on from using blocks to code but might not be quite ready to use more complex programming languages like Python or JavaScript. Think of it as a stepping stone! Projects made with Lynx are easily shareable.

 

It is available in Canadian English, French, and Ojibwe—with other Indigenous languages in development. 

 

Seymour Papert would be very proud of what his Canadian company, LCSI, has produced through this Code To Learn project. It is our mission to continue his work.

 

Head over and get a free account (if you are Canadian).

 

Slide Decks with Curricular Activities for Students

 

 

These titles are available at CanCodeToLearn.ca:

 

  • Geometric Fun ('Drawing' Kids into Being Mathematicians)
  • Géométrie en folie  - in French
  • Create an Interactive Greeting Card
  • Cartes de souhait interactive - in French
  • Create an Interactive Greeting Card - in Ojibwe
  • How to Create Secret Codes
  • Comment créer des codes secret  - in French
  • Coin Toss Probability
  • Create a Birthday Match Simulation
  • Create a Calculator App
  • Create a Working Ecosystem
  • Create a Gravity Simulation

 

Another in the works is:

 

  • Playing with Artificial Intelligence

 

You will also find project guides:

 

  • Interactive Story Project Coders' Guide
  • Creating a Race Simulation Coders' Guide

 

Current Listings for Upcoming Webinars

 

Head over to CodeToLearn.ca/athome to see the upcoming offerings for the next week. These offerings are for BOTH students and teachers. The descriptions will help you choose what you might want to use directly with your students. (Disclaimer: we are running hard! So it isn't always quite as up to date as we'd like! But, sign up and you'll get the latest news delivered to your mailbox!)

 

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http://codetolearn.ca/athome

Recordings of Previous Webinars

Missed a live session? Explore recordings online or via our Fire TVRoku or Apple TV apps!

 

 

Sign Up for Notifications

 

In the meantime, go to CodeToLearn.ca/athome and sign up for regular mailings.

 

As always, I appreciate being associated with these wonderful folks: the LCSI Team (Michael A. Quinn, Brenda Sherry, Alain Tougas, Elena, & Sergei), the Fair Chance Learning Team, and, of course, the Taking IT Global team! I am a better person for it.

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