Python – I have survived!

At the beginning of February I enrolled in the University of Canterbury’s first year paper – COCS121, Introduction to Programming (using Python). I decided to take the plunge as in our Year 12 Digital Technology class we are going to be teaching Python in Term 3 and I have never done any programming whatsoever!!

python logo

I decided I needed a course where I would have deadlines that had to be met. If I had just used an online resource like codeacademy, it would have been too easy to not to do it. Also, I like to interact with others and with the UC course we would have a tutor and tutorials plus able to use forums to talk with other students.

Uc Banner

Tim Bell and his Computer Science department at UC are working hard to support digital technologies teachers and they offered this course as an online option for teachers. (UC also paid the cost of the paper!) Twelve started at the beginning of the year and five of us made it to the final (written) exam.

It was really full on and hard work. I had thought it would be maybe 5 hours extra work a week but for me it was probably more like 10 to 15. With having no background in programming I had to find the time to watch all the lectures, do all the labs and complete all the assignments.

I think the only reason I was able to finish the course was all the support I got. From my partner (lifesaver!), from Jack Morgan our online tutor and from Tim Harford – my DT colleague at school and I also connected in with the UC Computer Chicks Club. We had online tutorials two times a week with Jack, who was great, patient and really good at helping me solve problems. Tim was fab, he sat with me most Tuesday mornings before school so I could bounce ideas and questions off him and talk about what was working and what wasn’t in the programs I was writing. I know I would not have been able to finish this course if I didn’t have all of this help.

Positives out of this (besides completing the course and getting a good grade) are that besides the stress I really enjoyed it. It was exciting and interesting being a student again, it has made me think about my teaching and the students in my class. It has made me think about having extrinsic motivations –  deadlines, grades etc – credits. However, it would be interesting if I was a student in an environment where learning was the final goal – not completing a course. In such an environment I may have made a program that I wanted to, rather then ones about words and word counts!

Even though I did enjoy the whole course and was really excited when I got things to work, I think it would have been better if the assessments were interesting. Or perhaps does there need to be a set formula when teaching the basics of programming? And when teaching such a large group? Something to think about and explore, particularly when we are just about to start teaching Y12 students at an all girls’ school.

Another thing that would have been good would have been working collaboratively. However, again with the set up of a first year uni paper, perahps this would be too hard, as assessments are individual so how can you be collaborative? Perhaps this is something that occurs later on in a university setting. I would like to think about how we could make programming collaborative in NCEA but again have the hurdle of assessments needs to be jumped over. Is anyway out there doing collaborative programming with NCEA assessments?

I have now ticked off part of one of my goals – Goal 3: learn Python so can teach effectively and engage students in this learning area – I have done the learning bit! I hope I can do the next part! Who else uses Python in NCEA for the programming / planning standards? How do you go about teaching it?

Now that I have had the time to process and reflect on the course (and get over illness following the course!) I can see that taking on this learning was a mammoth task while teaching full time! I recently joined a group on Google+ called Code Club for Teachers and was looking at the Code.org activities that people were completing and posted a question “How do you all find the time?”. I had a think about this yesterday and decided that I used up all my spare time (and energy) for the whole year in the first half of this year completing COCS 121! So, I’m going to take a breather for the rest of the year and not run head first into doing extra things – even if they look like lots of fun and could be useful!

So, what do you think about the questions I have formulated in this post – does there need to be set formula when teaching the basics of programming? Does it make it easier when teaching a large group? Can we introduce collaborative work in NCEA with programming? Are you getting students to work collaboratively? Are you teaching Python? How are you teaching it? Or are you are teaching another programming language? If so, what language and how is it going?

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Github, html, css – starting out!

Early this year I was introduced to Github at the RailsGirlsWgtn Weekend back in March. Over the weekend there was the chance to create your own Ruby on Rails app, using Github and other sites to get it working. I must admit it was all a bit of a mystery to me and I doubt I could go back and recreate any of it, including the command lines to get stuff onto Github.

Since then I have learnt quite a bit more about programming (see posts about Python) and have developed my knowledge of HTML / CSS. For our Y12 Digital Technology class this year we have done quite a bit of website stuff and I have learnt more about using divs for layouts and cool sytling in CSS and my skills and confidence have improved.

Not long ago I came across Alyx Gillett’s website, which I think has a really cool and simple layout and design. So I started to look into creating one for myself. I looked at what hers is made in, which is www.squarespace.com. Looks cool but you have to pay after a free 14 day trial and it gives a bunch of stuff but nothing I think I need at the moment. And the  i had a brainwave, as I am a DT teacher wouldn’t it be cool if I made my own site completely from scratch. So I started have a play around with some ideas, look at some sites that had layouts I liked. This one provides the HTML & CSS – www.maxdesign.com.au. I started playing around with the Two column fixed width example and the One column fixed width layout.

site2

After playing for a bit I got busy with other things until just the last few days. I decided I wanted to have a crack again and also thought it was about time I started a wee project of my own. I thought creating my own site and getting it up online would be a good place to start plus it is a chance for me to really embed my own learning and think about how I can improve my own teaching of HTML & CSS.

So, after doing some Google searches about using Github and discovering Github for Windows and Mac, and learning about being able to use gh-pages to host a static website I pushed my wee site out into cyberspace. Using Github for Windows/Mac is so much easier then using the command lines – although I am sure it will be useful to know those sometime in the future.

Here is my site – http://schuknight.github.io/schuknight-site/. Still very much a work in progress and a learning tool for me.

ghiosite

Here I am on Github – https://github.com/schuknight. Useful stuff from RailGirlsWgtn Github page.

Next few steps with my site will be planning out what I want and also in November I am doing a 2 day HTML course at Yoobee, so hoping to learn some cool stuff there. It will be good to learn properly after a few years of picking things up here and there!

I have also rediscovered Sublime Text text editor. I like it as it just seems nicer then Notepad++ and can put on Windows and Mac!

sublime

How did you learn about HTML/CSS, webdesign? Got any goto sites that you think are essential? Either that you use now or learnt heaps from? What site do you recommend for me to keep developing my HTML/CSS? What site is good to start learning about Javascript?

Challenging my teaching #hackyrclass

My first blog post on #hackyrclass – setting the scene received a tweet from @NZPEteacher asking me what my end goal is by hacking my classroom.

I have had a bit of a think about this and to be quite honest I started without having concrete, clear goals in mind. It came out of reading people’s posts and chatting with a couple of other teachers at school and the boredom that I felt with teaching the way I was.

We, predominately, use a paper workbook (that we have created as a department) and a range of individual, pair and group activities based around a Health issue / unit. I guess a lot of the content is teacher driven and involves a lot of the teacher on the stage. I have gotten bored with teaching like this and I think with what Claire Amos and everyone else involved in #hackyrclass is attempting made me feel “safe” to try something different. I have put safe in quotes as it isn’t exactly safe changing it up like teachers all over the country are with #hackyrclass but it has given me the push to step outside my comfort zone!

Coming back to the end goal, so I thought with me getting bored I am sure the students are, so I am hoping for more engagement. I am actually seeing this from most students already. I also probably need to say that a goal is that they learn what they need to about Drug Education, so as I fill the requirements of meeting the curriculum. I will need to look at this closer though. Others goals that I hope to see are higher order thinking and learning happening that is worthwhile and authentic. Getting completely away from students just filling in pages in a workbook.

I haven’t been doing much planning for the lessons. I have a loose idea of the outline for a lesson but not much structure. I think this allows for me to be more flexible and means that students are not constrained by my thinking. This isn’t the best for all students though, as some do need structure. During the lesson I am dealing with this by checking in with groups and those that are stuck or aren’t doing much I have a chat with and guide them to a point where they are keen to keep exploring ideas.

One thing I am thinking about doing, as I suggested to the class when we were discussing growth mindset, that I should let other staff in the school know what I was doing and invite them to come and visit! This rather petrifies me – so might be a good idea to run with it? I would be interested to know what others think about this idea?

where it happens

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#hackyrclass – setting the scene

Today was my second lesson stepping up to the #hackyrclass challenge. After reading Steve Mouldey’s blog and having a good chat with a couple of colleques last week I decided today to lay the ground work with my class. I felt I needed to make it clear to them what I was trying to do and why.

I created this Google Presentation to explain Growth Mindset and co-construction. I was intending to do enquiry learning as well but as I only came up with the idea of the presentation the period before the class I ran out of time! Whoops!

They got it! Some more then others but definitely felt they understand what I was trying to explain. Some seem really excited about – these students will really push themselves and me. Some will challenge themselves but might not go all out – they will still learn a lot and grow their own learning. Some, I think, aren’t too sure what to make of it and it will be interesting to see how they go.

What was really exciting for me was that I had a short but in-depth conversation with three students about the moral and social aspect to do with drugs / alcohol. I am excited about what learning will happen.

I also felt really uncomfortable at one point when I was talking about the growth mindset – I realise (I said to my students) that maybe what I needed to do was let the other teachers at school know what I was doing and invite them to come and visit my classroom. We will see what happens with this idea!

Pretty excited so far about #hackyrclass.

Quick #HackYrClass post

So have been watching all the tweets and blog posts following Claire Amos’s initial post about hacking your classroom.
Didn’t think I was really going to have enough time to get involved with it (madly busy learning python!) but sat down with two colleagues who are doing some hacking as well and came up with how I could do it.
I teach PE and Health and we have 1 lesson of health a week. We still use a workbook set up and I often get pretty bored taking those lessons (not sure you could really cool it teaching, maybe preaching!). So I have decided to hack my Year 10 Health class. Upcoming unit is drug education and I am throwing the book out the window.

It is great that others are blogging about what they are doing. Someone I just followed that teachers science had some good ideas which I am going to hack!
It has also been great having a couple of people at school who are keen to do this as well, as good to bounce ideas of each other

PE Geek workshop @ WGC

iPads in PE

Wednesday 16 April, PE Geek Workshop @ Wellington Girls’ College

I have been following Jarrod Robinson (The PE Geek – @mrrobbo) for quite a long time now and have used a lot of his apps and I have always been envious when he has posted information about workshops that he will be delivering somewhere around the world.

And then last year I think I replied to one of his tweets and asked when he would be coming to Aotearoa / New Zealand. What grew from that tweet cumulated in him being at Wellington Girls’ College today and running his iPads in PE workshop!

It was a fantastic workshop. I think I am pretty confident using my iPad and I still got heaps out of workshop. It was great being able to have the time to explore and play and have a expert leading that. It was especially worthwhile with it being focused on PE as there was consistent examples of how to apply uses of apps in practical and theory lessons.

It was hands on – which probably goes without saying with it being a workshop on iPads – but it was hands on it that the activities had been designed in such a way that they were directly relevant to what we as teachers do every day.

There were about 30 people that attended the workshop and some as far away as Napier and Taranaki – how cool is that!

I am excited to use more and more of these apps in class to augment my teaching and the learning of my students. We live in a world of technology – our students even more so –  and we can utilise the power of technology to enhance our teaching. And make it even more fun!

photo

Below is a list  of apps (and some notes) we had a look at in the workshop. Some that stood out for me were Three Ring, Bingo Baker (website not app), Book Creator, Video Tagger and the games – Bit Breaker, Pop Flux (will be finding more of those!).

Here is a link to the PDF of the book I created during the workshop using Book Creator. And here is the link to the epub version – open it in iBooks.

What apps do you use in your teaching and how do you use them?


Socrative

Questions: kms from venue, what  people are teaching at the moment, what devices do your students have access to, what do you have access to, what are the limitations to using technology in classes True / False box: reliable wifi in gym / where teach, do you have a permanent data projector in your practical teaching space. Students voting on what they think is the best answer, take screenshot to record into book.

Bit Breaker

Activity game app – could use in the Year 9 Fitness unit

Book Creator

Creating a book to document what we do today. Use in PE, take photos of what students are doing, skills. Selfie photo to add to cover of book. Use of video in book for workshop introduction. PE Geek post on using this app – Multimedia Rich Portfolios & PE

Bam Video Delay

How to use – high jump, 20 sec delay, front on, side on / any skill performance / task card  at base of tripod, providing feedback for what they do. Could use to record soccer game – 2 min delay, while team is sitting out, can watch video delay. Can do frame by frame and slow it down within the delay. Doesn’t save the videos. (add in screen shot of x4 to book when get app) Where can we get a tripod?

Coach’s Eye

Softball video. Some things have to pay for. Easier to get video out of. Example in session – arms different actions. Compare 2 videos, get to same point and link with button. Link a golf swing, point of contact, volleyball serves. Pete from St Oran’s uses for AS 3.2 with a tennis serve – elite for student. Recording of what seeing on screen. Can record, will record sound, and playing the video plus drawing over the top.

Tube Downloader

Download a video you want to put into Coach’s Eye. Can also use to download videos if you are going somewhere where wifi might be poor.

SloPro

Goes as slow as 1000 fps, 500 fps best. For certain things can get good information. Can do a lot of things to isolate a skill, show, talk through it.

Video Tagger

4 screens, medium, 2 sec lead in and out time. Lead in and lead out – 2 secs before the tap and 2 secs after the tap. Could get non-participants to use to record class. Can have up to 6 tags on screen. Use of 2 or 4 better. Show compilation of tagged video to students to show good and not so good skills / behaviour. Can also import video in that you have already taken. Use of students names.

i-nigma

QR scanner – very quick. Link to a reflection questions – random questions. Lots of PE applications – video, websites, photos, task cards.

Result Tracker

Add people, activities, add new result. Example activity – stork test – data information. Reaction Test. And Pop Flux.

Pop Flux

Pop the bubbles and dodge the bombs! Cool!

ACTIVE APPS

Zumba Dance $$ – Could use as a warm up. Have part of the Year 9 Fitness unit.
Fuego’s Adventure $$
Virtual Active – free app

CoachNote

Players, balls, invasion games, setting up of gym with cones etc, layout. Could use for relief. Give direction for a game, go over rules, boundaries etc.

If LED for HD

Simple app, Jarrod uses a lot. Could use at start of the lesson

Live Heart Rate Tracking

thepegeek.com/polar, can connect to smart phones / devices. Works with Polar Team app. 1 is $60, can buy

Polar Team – Free app, lets you track up to 40 people at a time.

Easy Assessment

Rubrics, videos, photos. Example – paper plane rubric. Can take videos and then do grading with rubric later on when watching the video.

AverageAsianDude –  www.thepegeek.com/dancevids

Dance Vids – Kung Fu fighting, Eye of the Tiger – could use in Dance or Fitness units.

Fitness Blender – www.fitnessblender.com

Use in Year 9 Fitness unit.

Three Ring

Free, great for assessment, very powerful. Is all cloud based. Like this, especially with being able to upload photos and videos to the cloud.

Could use for 12SPRT, Social Responsibility, video / photo / and notes records for over the whole year. Great evidence. Can give access for students to view theirs, as well as giving access to parents.

PE Apps Bingo – Bingo Baker

QR code to site – bingobaker.com

Endomondo – GPS tracking device -www.thepegeek.com/endomondo

SprintTimer – thepegeek.com/photofinish – have to be at a height

Webscorer Race Timer – thepegeek.com/webscorer

Cardiograph – thepegeek.com/cardio

Jump It – thepegeek.com/jumpit

Virtual Heart thepegeek.com/virtualheart

SnappyCam thepegeek.com/snappy

Bleep Test Prothepegeek.com/bleep

 

 

 

 

Goal 3 – learning Python

python logo

So, after getting through enrolling at UC I have managed to get onto Learn2 (UC Moodle site) and into COCS121. So far so good. Have bought the recommended text book (Practical Programming) and loaded on iPad. Have got link to the interactive text book (How to Think Like a Computer Scientist), which looks pretty cool.

Have started catching up on the lectures that I missed due to not being enrolled. Am finding it quite interesting and not stressful so far!

There are 10 other teachers from around the country enrolled in the course, all doing it by distance and the set up for us is pretty good. I am going to have to allow probably at least 5 hours a week to it to keep on top of everything. Which will mean a very very busy first half of the year.

Quite excited about it though. Oh and if it wasn’t enough am of to the Rails Girls Wellington 2 day workshop in a couple of weekends. (@RailsGirlsWgtn)

Goal 3: learn Python so can teach effectively and engage students in this learning area.

Footnote: a small thing but see real life application for me, writing program to convert metres to feet, as I am mad on surfing!
Was going to link to text file but Google Drive having a hissy fit, so this is what I wrote:

def m2ft():
metre = float (input (“Wave height in metres: “)) return metre * 3.2808
print(“Wave height in feet is “, round (m2ft(),2))

So then how do sites like this – metric-conversions.org – make it come up with feet and inches?? Rather than decimal points. Something I will hopefully learn.

Just thought of another use – in PE students run the Cooper 12 minute run and we then get them to calculate what there time would be over 4kms. Would be cool to have little program to do that quickly (I am sure I could find one on web but cool doing myself!). Even better would be getting the students to make it themselves – cross curricula!