Code.org visit to Ravo

On Wednesday 30 March Code.org software engineer Brendan Reville paid a visit to Ravo to talk with students about his life, career, Code.org and the Hour of Code. I met Brendan a few weeks earlier at the Future Schools Expo at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney and I was impressed with his talk and the fresh, positive message he made that day. I have been a fan of the Hour of Code and Code.org for a few years so he didn’t have to sell me at all as I was already using the great resources he was responsible for. I was very impressed when he told us he was the mastermind behind the Star Wars Hour of Code last year, one of my favourite coding tutorials. The Code.org tutorials are brilliant, clear instructions are provided, helpful videos explain important concepts, fun scenarios to learn and a whole heap of extra resources to help teachers deliver the content to their classes. The Star Wars Hour of Code introduction video below is a must-see!

At the conference Brendan also mentioned the full curriculums Code.org provide for free on their website. I had looked at these before and dipped in and out of them to use some coding resources and some of the great unplugged resources, but he inspired me to take the courses more seriously and I am now teaching course 2 to my year 3 classes. I love the mixture of unplugged activities and online activities to teach computational thinking, coding and other technology constructs. The first few lessons have gone really well and students have been thoroughly engaged in all the different types of activities.

Brendan’s talk at Ravo was fantastic. He has had an interesting life and career so far and he inspired the students to take software design and coding as a serious career path. He talked about his schooling and university days in Sydney and at Macquarie University and how he started making computer games and first steps in coding. As a big Xbox fan he wanted to work for Microsoft so he moved to the USA to land his dream job. He talked about the great projects he was involved with at Microsoft, including developing user interface’s and the Xbox Music Mixer, as seen below.

xbox_music_mixer

Wanting a new challenge Brendan moved to Code.org to be involved with coding and education and helping to deliver the world’s largest educational event – the Hour of Code!

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.14.02 PM

Reflection on completing an hour of code.

Brendan also spoke about the wide variety of skills needed to be successful when working for a tech company. It isn’t just coding skills that get you noticed, it is also skills including teamwork, creativity, communication, designing and more. He described his experiences of working for tech companies vividly and the year 9 and 10 students in attendance were enthralled.

Brendan delivered a positive and inspiring message to our girls that they can succeed in the tech industry and land their dream job for a great start-up or tech giant. Through the Code.org resources young people are learning some great skills that will benefit them not just in their schooling but also in their future careers that are sure to be dominated by STEM.

Thank you Brendan and Code.org! (And thanks for the cool Code.org stickers :))

code_logo_rgb

Code.org also has lots of other great videos to learn about computer science and technology such as the internet and cybersecurity.

Using Padlet

The task

I used Padlet for the first time in a lesson today, with 8 Blue R.E. A Padlet is an online wall that people can post opinions, links and images on. The Padlet is a great interactive and collaborative tool to collect opinions, thoughts, feedback and more.

The topic

The topic of the Padlet was Volunteering. I asked students to create a post on this topic, something about Volunteering, such as an opinion, benefit or an experience. I explained how the Padlet worked, but I should have gone over the ground rules (digital citizenship) in more detail, something to do next time. I passed the keyboard around for students to do their post, however, some students took a long time to post, so next time I could time them, say 2 minutes per post. When the time is up they must move the keyboard on.

Student reaction and engagement

The reaction of the students was fantastic! They immediately liked the idea of posting on a wall, voicing an opinion and using technology. A couple of boys were a little over excited and had to be calmed down. Comments posted were thoughtful and relevant to the topic, use of images was effective and showed a positive attitude towards the topic. I was extremely pleased with the engagement of the class, students were watching the board to see what people were posting, and commenting on them as well, which is what I wanted them to do. We ran out of time so I was able to share the link to the wall with the class so other can post for homework, a great feature of Padlet. Some students copied the link in their books, which was pleasing.

Reflection

I will definitely use Padlet again, just with a few alterations:

  • Impose a time limit in class of 2 minutes
  • While people are waiting they can plan their post
  • Must keep to the topic, digital citizenship
  • If people want to post privately after class they can copy the URL

Finally, the engagement and reaction of the class was fantastic, it was great to see them so involved in an R.E. class.

http://padlet.com/scadding_msg/8bvolunteer