Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Open Data and Coding Project for Grade Six Social Studies and Math

I've recently put together a project-based learning challenge related to Alberta Education's grade six curriculum for social studies and mathematics. It involves open data released by governments, and coding-based graphing. Feel free to use it however you see fit, and let me know if there's anything that could be tweaked or improved.

The essential question is, "What data are available from governments, what use can we make of it, and what are some other things we would like to know?"

Use data from data.strathcona.ca, data.edmonton.ca, open.alberta.ca, open.canada.ca, or somewhere else to:

  1. Construct a line graph of some statistic over time using HighCharts code from one of these examples: frequency of baby names or population of Sherwood Park and
    1. describe the trend or trends in the data and brainstorm reasons
    2. hypothesize what those data might look like in the future, and why
    3. investigate how those data were collected
  2. Assemble a map of essential (or interesting) services provided by Strathcona County, the City of Edmonton, and/or Alberta (e.g. this one) and
    1. compare how these are different in urban versus rural areas
    2. explain why they think that level of government is responsible for those services
    3. propose how the public could get involved in the expansion of those services
  3. Design a questionnaire to solicit opinions of other students, staff, and parents about either or both of the previous challenges.
  4. Write and send a letter to an elected official describing either or both of:
    1. your findings from one or more of the previous challenges
    2. suggestions for data sets that could or should be available (e.g. spending or locations).


I've created two jsfiddle starting points for students to graph data:

and a map they can use as an example of displaying geographic data:
https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.6277799,-113.3259701,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!6m1!1s1tRWTjGzElTe2l5vo981zgWZQBE8


The curricular outcomes that would likely relate to students' projects are:

Social Studies:
Benchmark Skills and Processes:
Dimensions of Thinking:
critical thinking and creative thinking: assess significant local and current affairs from a variety of sources, with a focus on examining bias and distinguishing fact from opinion
historical thinking: use primary sources to broaden understanding of historical events and issues
geographic thinking: construct and interpret various types of maps (i.e., historical, physical, political maps) to broaden understanding of topics being studied
decision making and problem solving: propose and apply new ideas, strategies and options, supported with facts and reasons, to contribute to decision making and problem solving
Research for Deliberative Inquiry:
research and information: determine the reliability of information, filtering for point of view and bias
6.1: Citizens Participating in Decision Making
General Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the dynamic relationship between governments and citizens as they engage in the democratic process.
6.1.4 - analyze the structure and functions of local governments in Alberta by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How are representatives chosen to form a local government (i.e., electoral process)?
What are the responsibilities of local governments (i.e., bylaws, taxes, services)?
How are local governments structured differently in rural and urban settings?
What role is played by school boards (i.e., public, separate, Francophone) within local communities?
6.1.6 - analyze how individuals, groups and associations within a community impact decision making of local and provincial governments by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How can individuals, groups and associations within a community participate in the decision-making process regarding current events or issues (i.e., lobbying, petitioning, organizing and attending local meetings and rallies, contacting elected representatives)?
How do associations such as the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta (ACFA), the Métis Nation of Alberta Association (MNAA) and the First Nations Authorities (FNA) provide their members with a voice, at local and provincial levels, exercising historical and constitutional rights?
In what ways do elected officials demonstrate their accountability to the electorate (e.g., respond to constituents, participate in local events, represent and express in government meetings the concerns of constituents)?

Math:
Statistics & Probability - Data Analysis
General Outcome: Collect, display and analyze data to solve problems.
Specific Outcome 1: Create, label and interpret line graphs to draw conclusions.
Communication | Connections | Problem Solving | Reasoning | Visualization
Specific Outcome 2: Select, justify and use appropriate methods of collecting data, including:
Questionnaires, Experiments, Databases, Electronic media.
[ICT: C4 - 2.2, C6 - 2.2, C7 - 2.1, P2 - 2.1, P2 - 2.2]
Specific Outcome 3: Graph collected data, and analyze the graph to solve problems.




Friday, May 27, 2016

Technology Ideas to Enhance Classrooms and Makerspaces

not that a classroom can't also be a makerspace, in fact some argue that every classroom should be

Here are are a few cool things you can try with students of almost any age. Some off these are expensive, some are free. Try things and share your experiences.


Hour of Code

A basic introduction to coding and computational thinking concepts.
A good starting point before moving on to other projects.

Scratch Programming

A graphical (drag and drop) programming environment for creating games, animations, interactive stories, and presentations.
  • Can be used by any students that can read (probably best in grade 3 and up).
  • Works great on Chromebooks or any other machines.
  • There is also ScratchJr on tablets for younger students.
e.g. Math with Scratch Demo” by MisterHay
Math with Scratch Demonstration on Scratch_2016-05-09_10-48-34.jpg

Makey Makey

A small circuit board for interfacing real-world things with a computer/Chromebook.
  • Use wires to connect anything conductive, the computer sees it as a keyboard and mouse.
  • Works great with Scratch
Original (3699 × 2775)

mBot Robot

mBot is an easy-to-use and inexpensive ($100 or so) programmable robot.
Features:
  • Wireless connection to the computer
  • Two motors
  • Two RGB LEDs that can be programmed to display almost any color
  • Speaker (for playing tones/notes)
  • Infrared transmitter and receiver for communicating with other mBots, TVs, etc.
  • Ultrasonic distance sensor
  • Line follower sensor (can tell whether it is on a dark line or not)
It can be programmed with mBlock, which is based on Scratch, or via Arduino code.
e.g. line follower by JohannHöchtl


LEGO Mindstorms

Build with LEGO, program with a graphical environment.













e.g. NXT-G programming by Steve Jurvetson
On a related note, check out LEGO Digital Designer (for Windows or Mac) and Build with Chrome (for Chrome).

Raspberry Pi computer

A small, inexpensive (less than $50) single-board desktop computer.
  • Just requires a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and cables.
  • KanoOS is kid-friendly and has a number of great coding activities built in.
  • Many interesting projects have been built with them.


Virtual Circuits

123d.circuits.io allows students to create virtual circuits. Works on Chromebooks or other computers.

Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset

Very inexpensive, about $5 each.
Requires a relatively recent Android phone or iPhone (4S or newer).
Experience VR games and simulations
Watch 3D and/or 360° videos.
Students may even be able to record VR photos and videos using mobile apps.

Stop Motion Animation

On a Chromebook or any computer with a webcam: Chrome Stop Motion Animator app
iPhone, iPod, iPad: LEGO Movie Maker app, Imotion How too use Imotion
Many Android stop motion apps available as well.

Video and Audio Production

e.g. video projects, podcasts, radio dramas
Chromebooks:
Mobile Devices:

Quadcopter Drones

EIPS owns (and insures) two Phantom 3 video drones for schools can borrow.
Students can also fly smaller indoor drones such as a Syma X2.



Have fun.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Drone Videography Examples

Here are some examples of video shots you can achieve with a drone. They were taken with DJI Phantom 3 Pro and Standard quadcopters. Of course many of these can be shot and/or edited in reverse, and there's probably some overlap in this list. I've tried to create examples of all of these shots in this folder.

For some shots that are better filmed and produced, check out How to pull off five essential drone shots and uplift your videos. I've borrowed some of their ideas as well.
  1. Bird’s eye view
    1. Looking out
    2. Looking down
  2. Reveal
    1. Pull back (or fly towards) a sign or building
    2. Peek over fence or building
    3. Tilt up as you fly towards person/object
    4. Fly over ledge
  3. Fly up
    1. From object or sign on ground
    2. From person or object
    3. With or without rotation
    4. Along vertical structure or point of interest
  4. Fly by
    1. From above
    2. From beside
    3. With or without pan
  5. Tracking shots
    1. Beside
    2. Follow
    3. Lead
  6. Aerial panoramic
  7. Crane
  8. Point of interest orbit (full or partial circle)
  9. Aerial Timelapse
  10. Fly through (only for advanced pilots)
All of these example videos are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, so you can use them as long as you give credit and also allow others to use your work.

Did I miss anything, or is this list too granular?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

EIPS Scratch Day 2016 Reflection


Our fourth annual EIPS Scratch Day was March 10, 2016 in the Bev Facey main gym. Over 300 students in grades 4 to 9 participated in coding challenges designed for beginner through experienced Scratch users.

Students were given a list of challenges to complete, and were awarded points for completing each. The supervisors had access to a form (see below) that they used to assign points to a school as students completed challenges. For an overview of how that worked, check out Creating a Leaderboard using Google Drive, but note that the "on form submit" trigger was overwhelmed by the speed at which student were completing challenges.

Throughout the day there were just over 3000 completed challenges recorded, about half of them "beginner" level, and the school with the most points per student was Rudolph Hennig Junior High with 6479 points recorded for their 42 students. In second place was FRH (3387/23) and third was LLR (5303/39).


Of course the event wasn't all about getting points. After lunch we had an unplugged computing science activity inspired by csunplugged.org/binary-numbers where students got into groups of four and represented 4-bit binary numbers by standing (1) or squatting (0). We even did some adding and subtracting of binary numbers, such as 1101 - 0100 = 1001 (13 - 4 = 9).

At the end of the day, once a few schools with longer bus rides had left and the tables had been cleared out, we repeated that activity with 8-bit binary numbers.


Along the side of the gym we also had some booths set up where the amazing Mr. Chung's students had set up technology demonstrations of cool things like Makey MakeyOculus Rift, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, and mBot.

Hopefully the students and staff learned some things and are inspired to try other coding activities such as code.orgcodecombat.com, or even more advanced things like robotics, microcontrollers, or app creation.

Some feedback we've received about the event includes:

Omg soo hungry and this is awesome food #eips16scratch
via @B_taylor2016

I just wanted to pass along a big thank you from FSCS. We really enjoyed scratch day yesterday and it provided our grade six with valuable skills that they will follow up in class. I loved the way the challenges were done this year with the score keeping. via C. Charest


Hey guys I'm here at scratch day and I'm making pacman #scratchday #eips16scratch via @_Disco_Potato_


I just wanted to say thank you for such a great day yesterday.  I think that 320 students had an amazing day. Those kids were pumped and excited about Scratch and worked the entire day.  To maintain their attention and concentration that long was impressive.  Thanks for all your efforts and organization.  I was happy to help out, and enjoyed my entire day.  I thought the inclusion of the high school students and their demos was really cool part of the day. via D. Nelson

Just got back from Scratch Day! 350 kids, tech, tech support, consultant support, coding, all levels of students- what great opportunities for our learners. via D. Barron

Thank you again (and also to your team) for a wonderful day. The grade 4s were abuzz and felt so special to be part of something with the older students. We will definitely see you next year! via H. Bianchini

Thank you to everyone who participated and helped out, hopefully I haven't forgotten to include anyone here. The staff and students at Bev Facey were amazingly helpful and accommodating, in particular G. Chung and A. Mali coordinated so many logistical things. J. Steele-Watts and her commercial foods staff and students also put together a great lunch. Thank you as well to FRH and B. Salyzyn for lending tables and chairs.

Events like this can't happen without the support and encouragement of Central Services staff, particularly Learning Technologies and Supports for Students. Thank you to G. Kloet, E. Carrasco, and E. Diaz for setting up the network and making sure all of the technical details worked. Thank you to D. Nelson, J. Ference, J. Sundar, L. Sereda, D. Barron, and J. Clark for coming out and helping, and to J. Clark and L. Skitsko for paying for busing and some substitute coverage from the Learning Services budget. Of course a big thank you to all of the school staff that brought students and arranged all of the related logistics, and to E. Zimmerman and M. Liguori for being supportive of this event.

We're looking forward to our fifth annual EIPS Scratch Day on March 8, 2017.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Perhaps wireless display devices are not great for classrooms

Over the years we've tried out a number of wireless display devices, including Apple TV, Chromecast, and various other proprietary or standards-based dongles and software. I've recently started to think, though, that these are not a good idea.

Of course I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

The main reason I'm thinking they're not a good idea is that there are better (and more "real-world" ways to get student content up on the big screen in a classroom. The obvious one is that students can share content with their teacher, whose computer is connected to the big screen, via the usual ways that they share things with their teacher, such as Google Drive, Classroom, Office 365, email, or social media. In my experience this is also how things work in environments outside of education.

Another issue with some of these devices, particularly Chromecast, is the lack of controls or restrictions on who can connect to it. Apple has introduced passcodes, onscreen codes, passwords, and device verification, but many other vendors have not. This means that anyone on the same network as your device can display content on that device. While this is a great opportunity for digital citizenship education, it does occasionally cause issues.

As well, this process isn't always "simple, solid, and enjoyable" (the phrase that James Aitchison is fond of using). While our wireless, network, and Internet access are great, it's not going to be as good as a physical connection to the display.

So I recommend leaving the teacher machine connected to the classroom display, and have students share any content they would like displayed.

That's my current option, feel free to push back in the comments or on social media.