Friday, November 21, 2014

Hour of Code is Coming!

So excited to be planning Year 2 of Hour of Code at San Elijo Elementary! Last year was awesome with all of our classes giving it a try. Over 1400 elementary kids getting a taste of computer science and what makes all these fun things we use work.

Since beginning with Hour of Code last year, my second grade classes have made big progress through the 20 hour course with a few of the kids completing the entire course. As a school, we hired a computer lab tech who is helping make sure all kids have the same opportunities in technology. We've also started 3 after school tech classes, of which over 50% of the kids are girls. The older students have become mentors, helping the younger ones and their teachers learn how to use google apps and coding programs.

This year will be bigger and better! Thanks to more resources from, our Kinder and First graders will begin the Course 1 and the Second through Fifth graders will start on Course 2. In addition, we will be linking the extra activities that the students can work on through Scratch, creating with Flappy Bird, and Frozen! And our Tech Team of mentor students are ready to help wherever needed!

(When I emailed a couple former students Thursday morning to tell them the announcement about programming with Frozen, one parent replied "She just screamed and ran upstairs to try it!")

We are set to launch at our Friday Flag Assembly on December 5th. I'm thinking of trying the "Move It, Move It" activity with the kids directing our Asst Principal through a course with a couple obstacles. Hopefully, this will make for some great photo opps!

We will also have the classes view one of the videos right afterwards back in their classrooms. The next idea is to create a physical badge or sticker the kids can receive from a staff member. If we embed the video in a google slide show with info about Hour of Code plans for our school, we could add a secret message. Kids who decode the message and tell a school adult will receive the special badge. I'm so excited to pull it all together and share the excitement!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's with that clock change thing?

One of the best projects my classes have ever done has been participating in Mystery Class through Journey North. In this global game of hide and seek, the search is on to discover the location of 10 mystery class locations somewhere in the world. Hundreds of classrooms participate in this project ranging from second grade through 12th grade. 
We start prepping for this hunt the first week of school by noting the sunrise and sunset times in our city. How many hours of daylight do we have? Next week, will it be the same, or different? Why is it changing? Each week we look up this data, graph it, talk about it, wonder what it means. We discuss and think about time zones - why is it later when we call grandma on the East Coast? We trace our shadows at differnt times in the day, why are they longer shorter, going this way or that?
In January, we will start getting sunrise and sunset times for the 10 mystery locations. Based on what we've observed in our local area, we will make predictions about where these sites could be. Later we'll get some more data and geographical clues to research, narrow down, and hopefully confirm our guess. We will be right? Even I, the teacher, don't know. But finally the true locations will be revealed. Whether we are right or wrong doesn't matter as much as the quest and learning. But we are usually right ;)
Which brings me to my original question, what's with this time change thing? This week, while charting our daylight hours and the sunrise and sunset times, we noticed something strange. The pattern of change for the daylight stayed the same, we are losing about 13 or 14 minutes of daylight each week - this week about 10 hours and 46 minutes of daylight here. But the graph for the sunrise and sunset times took a big jump to the left. What happened there? Our entire class was able to connect that changing the clocks made our graph have a big change. It didn't change the amount of daylight, we didn't actually add or lose an hour, it just stepped to the left (or moved to the morning.) 
(I forgot to take a photo of our working graph. I'll do that tomorrow and add it here.)