Coding Etymology

It’s not always about the code, it’s about the kids, it’s about the learning. It is about moving young minds beyond pop culture vernacular to an expanding vocabulary. I want young minds that can solve problems through analytical thinking. I want Etymologist’s, specialists in understanding where things came from and where they are headed. I want young thinkers who know the who, what, where, when, and how of stuff. Thinkers that know the history of vocabulary and thinkers who can envision the future of language. And so the story goes,

Me: Did you just use the word ‘Awesome’.

Student: No Mr., I would never use that word. I use ‘lit’.

Me: With the use of ‘lit’ are you referring to the participle of light and all of it’s misinformed Urban Dictionary derivatives, or are you referring to the adjective that means ‘drunk’?

Student: Mr., I don’t know, I just like the word.

And that led to a seize the moment opportunity of research and replacement. Delving into the history of the word “awesome”, and looking for a suitable replacement that moved beyond the pop culture vernacular. We chose, prodigious. A word that means amazing or wonderful: very impressive according to Webster online. We clicked and clicked on the sound icon familiarizing our selves with the phonetics. We repeated the word over and over and then began using it in sentences. Spontaneous student participation with no hint of manipulated student participation tactics or techniques. It was response born in the lab of creation without any prompting.Was this vocabulary day,  no. Was this a planned lesson, no. Was this written in the lesson plan, no. Were we writing lines of code in a code editor, no. We were engaging in spontaneous problem solving. Using our minds and technical tools to move beyond the ordinary to the extra ordinary. This was the intersection of experience and opportunity. The place where more learning accidents need to take place. The place of coding etymology.

Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions

I had a chance to attend a couple of trainings in the Google Fiber Office Space. Of course all of these trainings were pointed at using Google, it was their space. I was under the assumption that Google Cardboard only works on Android devices. To my surprise this is not the case. You can use Google Cardboard, and in the future Google Expedition on Apple devices a well. Now if you don’t know me, I should tell you that I am very much into Apple products so this was great news to me. I use an iPhone, have an Apple TV, and am currently typing this blog post on a MacBook Air. This is great information to have since multi-platform use opens these programs up to more classrooms since they can be used on various devices – opening up learning opportunities to just about anyone.
Google CardboardSo Google Cardboard is just a “fancy” name for the cardboard box that holds the phone. It folds up in manner that allows you to slide a phone into the holder in front and is perfect for viewing. It is cheaper than regular virtual reality (VR) devices, but it doesn’t feel cheaply made for the price point it falls in. You can buy them on Amazon for as little as $10-$20!
Like I said, what I really like about cardboard is that it works with Android and iOS. So if I have a mixed class of students that have iPhones and Androids it won’t matter, they can still all do the same activity!
Both of these apps are free, so enjoy!

Google ExpeditionsFor Google Expeditions to work you will need some type of teaching unit such as an Android or iOS Tablet. This will act as the hub for the class. Your students will be connecting to this device to link all of their units together.

The teacher unit is where you will find the most functionality when it comes to using cardboard. With this you can see everything that the students are doing. Below is a great video showing how Expeditions works in a classroom setting.

As you can see the students are very engaged and they are all on the same activity. With this you can monitor student activity and, in a way, force the students to send their attention to a specific spot that you want them to look at. If I want all of the students to focus on the top of Big Ben, I just point my teacher device to that location. The students will see an arrow on the screen that will guide their eyes to a specific location on the screen. The do this by turning their heads and tilting up or down. Once there the arrow will go away. From here the teacher will see notes about the VR experience that will help them facilitate the lesson from this point.  Having side notes like this is great for a quick synopsis of the facts that you want to discuss with students without having to open a separate browser window to read to the students. As of right now, this program is in Beta and only available via iPad but should be going fully functional in the near future.
Google Cardboard and Expedition are great tools that we should be using in the classroom. We have the tools, and if not the students do. With your devices and theirs we can make these kinds of lessons happen regularly. I look forward to seeing how this becomes incorporated into classes in the future. This equates to field trips without leaving the classroom; it doesn’t matter if you are on a limited or free budget! Just think about it – your students could go anywhere with you as their guide.

Children, the Arts and Huckleberry

Children, the Arts and Huckleberry – what a combination!

The Arts Building board is very excited about an emerging new partnership with Huckleberry Coast Daycare.

Huckleberry has already taken over the Little Hands program we offer on Monday mornings and will soon be offering their more comprehensive plan to support Sunshine Coast families in day-to-day life by expanding the number of available childcare spaces.

Since the Arts Building is empty most weekdays except for Little Hands and the Children’s Coop, we believe this is a wonderful opportunity for parents and children in our community.

We look forward to forming a unique partnership that will provide quality daycare with a focus on the arts in order to further nurture creativity and imagination in our young children.

Here’s just a Huckleberry taste of some tips and useful tools for young children.

The Best Playdough Ever

The best play dough is soft, smooth, colourful and easily handled. It doesn’t stick to the rolling pin or your hands, it doesn’t dye the carpet, and it doesn’t dry out. Perhaps most importantly, it is something you and your toddler can make together!

Soup, Biscuits, and Helping Hands

Sometimes it feels as if the daily tasks of living cannot be accomplished with a toddler. Reading books and playing can easily occupy one for an entire morning, but then everyone gets hungry and tired, blueberries stain a new t-shirt  while a mountain of clean laundry gets upended onto the dog-hair laden floor and nap time is interrupted by a heffalump; the prospect of cooking dinner looms.