Hour of Code

This one comes from Mike and Lynda.

“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better”
– Bill Gates

Next week is “Computer Science Education Week”. Code.org is putting on an “Hour of Code” to inspire K-12 students to learn about computer programming.

According to their site, “It’s a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator.”

There are a number of online games/tutorials for various ages, some as young as 4 years. If you can spare an hour to expose kids to the foundations of all the technology that they love so much, check out some of the following links and let me know if you want to discuss them.

Computer Science Education Week


Find out more on the Hour of Code project and how you can use it in your classroom here.

– Mike

Series: Connected Educator Month

To help you prepare for Connected Educator Month next month, over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring a series by tech director superstar Mike Grant on the many different tools you can use to create a Professional Learning Network (PLN). 

October is Connected Educator Month, so if you are interested in becoming more connected to other educators, I will be sending out links for the next few weeks with tips on doing so.


This week’s link is to a video showing how to set up an account on Google+, and how to connect to others in Google+ communities. It was through my account on Google+ that I learned about Connected Educator Month.

If you join Google+, I am on there and will even “friend” you or as they say on Google+, I will “circle” you.

Go ahead and try it– you might like it.


Pro Tip: Tutorials

Believe it or not, there’s lots of technology out there that I have no idea how to use. Sometimes, I’ll even have trouble with an application that I use every day, like Microsoft Word. Rather than running screaming out of the room, or throwing my laptop out the window, I simply look for a tutorial online. They have saved my skin and taught me some brilliant tricks over the years.

Tutorials exist for just about everything, and many of them are even in video format so you can actually watch someone performing the action you are trying to learn. The first place I would recommend looking is straight from the horse’s mouth. For example, when I was learning how to use NoodleTools, I found all kinds of great information right in the help section of their webpage (Here are some screencast tutorials on using notecards in NoodleTools- login may be required).

If you’re finding the product’s website unhelpful, the next stop is YouTube. A properly-conducted search (which often includes the version or year of the application you’re using) will likely yield hundreds of videos. You will need to pay attention to the version (platform and year) of software being used in the tutorial, though; if it’s a different version, you may end up more confused than you were in the first place. The video below, a tutorial on how to print your First Class calendar, features a newer version of First Class than we have, but is still applicable to our software.

While there are lots of free tutorials out there, there are also tutorials sites that demand a membership fee. You get what you pay for; Lynda.com is one such site, and because it requires a paid membership, the video quality is higher than those available for free.

Learn It In 5

Learn It In 5 is a website of instructional videos to educate teachers on various Web 2.0 tools. Don’t know what Web 2.0 is? Don’t worry, there’s a video for that, too. These quick, 5-minute tutorials give a great overview and introduction to tools like Twitter, Google eBooks, and our old favorite, Storybird.

In addition, there are many educational videos you can use in class, on diverse topics like the American Revolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity. There’s a lot on this site to explore, and it’s all geared specifically to educators.