Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hour of Java Code Tutorial Videos

Next week, participate in the Hour of Code by following a coding curriculum. These programs are designed to familiarize students with JAVA, a language that is used in the professional world, the curriculum consists of three simple assignments:
  • Hello World - Your very first Java program, but with a twist
  • Transforming Images - Build your very own Instagram
  • Create Your Very Own Flag
Hosted on Vocareum , an online coding management system that is integrated with Edmodo, you can access this curriculum using your existing Edmodo username and password. Sign up by sending your name, email address to or visit and get ready to bring the 21st century to your students!

Introduction to the Vocareum Platform:

Instructions Hello World Assignment:

Instructions Transform Images Assignment:

Instructions Create Your Own Flag:

Thank you for your feedback Mrs. McAnlis.  
These directions will clarify the ones posted in Vocareum. 

Let's make your own flag. We will start by changing the colors of the background
  1. Go to panel1.setBackground( and change blue to any of these colors:
    red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, orange, pink, black, white, gray, lightGray, or darkGray.
  2. Now change the colors on panel2 and panel3.
  3. Click Build
  4. Click Run
  5. Go to the FILE tab and click on myflag.jpg

Now let's change the shape of the flag:
  1. Locate pane.setLayout(new GridLayout(1, 3)); and change the 1 to 2 and the 3 to 2
  2. Locate JPanel panel3 = new JPanel();
  3. Press enter to go to the line right below it
  4. Type the code JPanel panel4 = new JPanel();
  5. Locate panel3.setBackground(
  6. Press enter to go to the line right below it
  7. Type panel4.setBackground(;
  8. Change the of this new panel to another primary color.
  9. Type pane.add(panel4); below pane.add(panel3);
  10. The "String outfile" names the name your flag will have when you have finished it.
  11. Click Build and Run to create your new myflag.jpg
  12. Click on the "Files" tab and click on the "myflag.jpg" to view your flag after build and running it.

Have fun. Get Creative.
  • Pick a COUNTRY FLAG and try to make it or invent one of your own.
  • Show us your flag!
  • Use the Snip tool in your accessories folder in Windows to take a screen shot or Command-Control-Shift-4 on MAC
  • Ask your teacher to email your screen shot to
  • We will post the best ones on Mrs. V's blog Fantastic Digital Tools

These details will also be posted to the Edmodo Hour of Code Community

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

STEAM Lab & Makers

Why the world needs makers?

Who are Makers?

Independent inventors, designers, tinkerers, computer hackers, and traditional artists are all makers. The great thing about the maker movement is that no coding knowledge is required. Being a maker is about going back to basics and learning to build with tools you already have or re-purposing things that have been discarded. Challenge your students to learn on their own by making something with a topic you have in your class. You will be pleasantly surprised what they will accomplish.

How can you make your classroom into a maker lab?

You can start by adding some projects that let students learn to think and problem solve. Let me list a few examples of tools we use in my classroom that help students become problem solvers, inventors and develop their imaginations.
  • Animation
  • Web and App Design
  • Robotics: Mindstorms and/or LEGO WeDOs, Raspberry Pi's
  • Movie making
  • Python and Scratch Coding

Free Programs You Can Use To Challenge Your Students

Ideas Made Easy

These are some of my favorite websites for inspiration:

Simple Suggestions To Help Make Your Classroom Into a Maker Lab

  • How about centers? Keep in mind that centers work in high school too. 
  • Can you set up 1-3 different maker centers that help break up a unit in your class
  • What can you challenge your students to make with LEGOS or play dough?
  • What can you make in class to help kids learn math? Can you teach coordinates with Scratch or coding. 
  • Be creative and think about the multiple solutions it would take for your students to solve coding problems in Scratch or other coding programs.
  • How about stop motion animation what can you ask students to animate?

How About Starting with an Hour of JAVA Code

Our Raspberry Pi Adventure

I will leave you with a little Raspberry Pi video my son made for his Science Project in 5th grade. At eight years old he taught himself Scratch so by 5th grade his teacher agreed to let him be a maker instead of a scientist. This was the result.

More Information From Silvia Martinez's Book on Invent to Learn

The technological game-changers of 3D printing, physical computing and computer science can fuel transformations in the learning environment. K-12 educators can adapt these powerful technologies and “can do” [maker classrooms] can help revitalize learner-centered teaching and learning in all subject areas.

~Silvia Martinez
Author of Invent to Learn

Monday, October 27, 2014

Diffrerent Types of Online Teaching

Blended Learning

First let me provide a video about blended learning to explain what has happened in the way we teach and learn. I highly recommend you watch it before you read my post.

Today I learned that I will have the privilege of teaching for Georgia Virtual schools come Spring 2015. It is an exciting time to teach online. Classroom environments are changing and it is important that as educators we learn to teach effectively online. Plus, this opportunity will allow me to reach more students and hopefully get more students excited about fields in Computer Science and Technology. 

I am also currently enrolled in GaTech's online Masters of Computer Science and it has been an insightful experience. I have become very aware of effective vs. ineffective methods of teaching online and I am fascinated by the learning and teaching that is encountered in these virtual classrooms. The nature of the classroom can either be engaging or not and it really boils down to the instructors and how much time they dedicate to making students feel like they are part of a class. Does it sound similar to a typical classroom in a school?

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes:
I am going to also explain a little about two types of online classrooms: synchronous vs. asynchronous. writes in their article Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes
"Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate. 
Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a time frame – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. But overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose."
The classes I take online for GaTech are actually a blended approach to these two types of online classrooms. We meet once a week with a professor on Google Hangouts but get all our assignments via video lectures and online posts. During the Google Hangout, we have with our professor, who by the way can have over 200 students a semester, he allows us to ask questions. The session is then recorded and it becomes available for us to view. The video contains links to cued video of the questions he answers. The class I take also has an online forum where students help students. We post questions about a particular assignment or lecture and help each other out. Peer help is one of the things I thought I would miss the most while taking online classes but luckily these online forums make this possible. Plus, imagine having over 200 computer scientists available to answer your questions. This would obviously be impossible to attain in a regular classroom.

I will leave you with a video that gives you examples of the benefits of blended learning. The video explains how a whiteboard can no longer reach all of our students and he asks how then do we accommodate for these 21st century students?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Digital Toolkit That Ignites Student learning #BYOT

Are you ready to fire-up student engagement in your classroom? Want to launch your BYOT program into orbit? 5...4...3...2..1...Blastoff! Fasten your seat belt and join me as I review some of my favorite digital tools that might just help you ignite your #BYOT curriculum.

Organize your life! Does it get better than that? I can't tell you how much I love this APP. Every meeting, presentation or classroom project for me starts with this APP. It is just amazing what you can do with it. You can take notes, record voices, video, pictures and so much more. I only wish that I had a tool this powerful when I was in school. 

Rover App
See flash on your iPad. Pretty sure that about says it all. If you are an iPad user you will know how frustrating it is not to be able to see Flash files. This APP saves the day. 

Google Slides
This simple slide show maker is one of my favorites and it auto saves in your Google Drive. When I need to create a fast and simple presentation this is my go to APP. When I need students to concentrate on a topic or I need them to learn the material better we also use Google Slides. It makes learning fun and it is super easy. No bells and whistle just a simple here it is presentation tool.

PixnTell is an iPad app for quickly creating simple narrated photo stories. This app is very user friendly.  This is a cute example from a third grader, "Elephants are really big!" 

Stop Motion or Fun Motion (Android)
This APP makes it super easy to create stop motion movies. I use stop motion to help students understand difficult concepts. They use paper, scissors and drawings to animate simulations of just about anything. Use of stop motion animation in education is imaginative, innovative and creative way for kids to learn about a subject matter. Plus, it is adaptive to more than one style of learning.

This LMS system is one of the most popular ones. The best part is that it is free and their APP makes it possible to grade or assign projects for students anytime and anywhere. They can also turn in all their assignments digitally.

Remind 101
During our school year I am constantly in need of messaging my students, swim team, Interact club, boy scout groups, etc. The best tool to keep them updated is Remind 101. It allows me to message everyone without having to give out my cell number. A much safer approach to letting everyone know of changes or reminders of happenings in our classroom, teams or clubs.

This APP's claim to fame is study everywhere. They also state that over a million students, from every country on earth, use Quizlet daily. I am here to tell you that it is probably true. My students and I agree that you can find flashcards on just about any subject they need
 on quizlet. Go ahead try it. You'll be pleasantly suprised how much you will find. 

Show Me
This very cool app creates beautiful tutorials with the tap of your finger. When I go over a hard topic I upload these for my students to use as study guides or for explanations. My programming class especially loves to use it to study for test.

Dropbox and Google Drive
These two cloud computing saving areas are great. They both offer plenty of free storage room and can help you back up your files. They also easily install on your computer which makes using them as simple as saving to a folder locally. My favorite part about both of these is that no matter where I am I can access my files. Plus, they both offer an automatic upload picture feature. Google even puts my pictures in cool photo books by date and theme. So fun and keeps my pictures very organized.

The site you are on was created in Blogger. It is quick and easy way to get a blog up. I use blogs as a classroom newsletter or as a research/reflection area for my students. Blogger blogs can be made private or shared only by a group of individuals.

This little APP creates time-laps video. 

This simple little APP inspired by sticky notes is great for taking notes or asking students to do a little research.

Pintrest -- this is my account
Creating Pintrest Boards on classroom topics is a bit of an obsession for me. Now picture students developing an obsession for pinning topics we are studying in class. Can you picture a parent complaining about their child spending to much time pinning about the Civil War? 

The key is to find simple APPS you can use in your classroom that enhance your curriculum. I encourage you to try some of these and see how much more students learn by creating. You'll be pleasantly surprised how much fun you and your students will have discovering and learning with BYOT in the classroom.

One more note...
If BYOT is not an option in your classroom because your students don't own phones. Try buying or getting some cheap or recycled Android phones donated to your classroom. You don't need a phone service provider to use a smart phone since they work on WiFi. Click here to see an example of the letter Chattahoochee Elementary uses to get phones donated to their school. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hour of Code

Programmers NEEDED!

By the year 2020 more than 1,000,000 jobs will be needed in computer programming but only 400,000 computer science students will be available to fill those positions.


“Computer programmers are in great demand by
American businesses, but there are not enough
graduates to fill these opportunities.”
~ Senator Marco Rubio

My School's Hour of Code

On October 14, 2013, 30 of my programming students visited two elementary schools to teach 3rd to 5th graders how to code. On that same day thousands of other kids around the world participated in an hour of code. The initiative is all part of's campaign to allow every kid the opportunity to experience computer programming. The following is a video of our day and some resources you can use to run your own hour of code next year. Please lower your sound the video did not load correctly and it may be a bit loud.

Recommended Programs to Run Your First Hour of Code - I recommend teachers and students start at this link. This area will let students access's programming tutorials. Most are self explanatory.
Scratch -- This is a great programming site and the link I have provided for you includes tutorials were kids and adults can learn how to program. - More information on starting an hour of code in your school. - Sign up for a teacher account on
Duck Lights - A Rasberry Pi and Scratch Science Project -- This is my 5th grader's science project using Scratch and Rasberry Pi. This is a more advanced project but a great way to get kids excited about programming and electronics. My 5th grader taught himself Scratch at age 8. I wish I could take credit for all he knows but he learned it all on his own. Thanks for MIT's kids helping kids Scratch community. Please check my blog more information on this project.

Advertise Your Hour of Code

A good video to help get everyone in your school get excited about programming. 

“I think everybody in this country should learn how 
to program a computer because it teaches you 
 how to think.” ~ Steve Jobs

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How To Turn ON An LED light with a Rasberry Pi

After teaching computer programming to high school students for a few years, I realized  students need more tactile examples to keep them motivated. Therefore, I decided that with my Intermediate programming class, I would start teaching Python using Raspberry Pi's. It has turned out to be a great experience and a perfect motivator since they are having fun learning. Since Python can control functions on their Raspberry Pi's, I have seen students get very excited about learning how to code. 

My class started out with this easy light up an LED project since most of my students didn't know anything about electronics or circuits. Below I have listed the basic items, vocabulary and steps you can use with your students. In the next tutorial I will show you how to program the GPIO software on the Raspberry Pi to make the LED light blink. 

Class Time Needed
45 - 50 minutes (students did the vocabulary the day before)

Solderless Breadboard, Basic Circuit, LED (Light Emitting Diode), Volts, Amps, Ohms, Negative v. Positive charge, grounding cables

Classroom Setup

I have a class of 21 and almost every student has purchased their own Raspberry Pi but I allow my students to work in groups of 2-3. Each group needs all of the materials below. My students turn in a video of their LED lighting up digitally on Edmodo for a grade, therefore, I have added a digital video camera (most used their phones) to the list but this is optional. I have also included links to all the materials so you can get more information or to purchase these.


Raspberry Pi Model B
LED light bulb 
2 Wires preferably different colors
Header Pins to make the wires male
2 small jumper cables
Power Supply for the Raspberry Pi
Digital Video camera (optional)

Assembly (see video for explanation)
1. Power your Raspberry Pi (see above link for recommended power supply)
2. Connect your 2 wires to the Raspberry Pi. Starting from the bottom closest to SD card  
connect pin 1 with the black wire on right 
- connect pin 3 with red cable on left
3. Connect your jumper cables to the breadboard 
- grey cable to the blue line on the breadboard (this is the ground cable)
- red cable to red line on the breadboard
4. Connect your LED light to the breadboard 
- the longer end will go where the grey cable is connected
- the short end of the LED light will go the where the red cable is connected
5. Connect your red and black cable to the breadboard. 
- the black cable will go into any area of blue line and the red cable to any area of the red line
- the red and blue lines on the breadboard let electricity flow straight so if you put the cable anywhere on that row it will make the entire row active
6. If you connected everything correctly you should immediately see the LED light up.
7. If it doesn't light up check your LED light (go back to step 4), check your red and black cables are in the right pins and areas on the breadboard (go to step 5), etc.

Programming and Software
No programming is needed for this lesson just power and the supplies to make the LED light up. The Raspberry Pi will light up without any modifications to your operating system or any need for software.

Where to buy A Raspberry Pi - Good Electronics Explanations
Introduction to Basic Electronic Concepts - This site helped my students learn how to draw a circuit and the basic needs of assembling a circuit.
My Rasberry Pi Pintrest Bookmarks - inspiration and good resources on what to do with your Rasberry Pi

Alternate Assessment
Students in my class turned in videos of their lighting up LED's via Edmodo. A small quiz was posted on Edmodo the day after to check student learning.

Feel free to post questions or comments.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Using Social Media to Illuminate Classroom Dynamics

Spark the light bulb over your students’ heads again and again. Join the revolution to end the ongoing battle with classroom boredom. Open new channels of curiosity with your students by learning how to use social media to engage students with 21st century communication and collaboration skills.

Above is the description of what Kate Matthews, Technology Teacher at Tyrone Elementary, and I will be presenting at the 2011 Georgia Education Technology Conference. Our presentation will include examples of how I use Twitter, Blogging, Diipo, Sophia and Classroom Parott in the high school classroom and how we both use Edmodo at the elementary and high school levels.

This is the Prezi presentation we will be using during our session. The presentation includes resources and video examples of how we use social media in our classrooms.

The following materials were created by the Edmodo team as well as educators to support teachers who are preparing to rollout Edmodo in their classroom. The files are from the Edmodo help center.

Lastly, featured below is the full segment of the Heavy Head Syndrome (HHS) video we talk about in the beginning segment of our presentation. It is kindly demonstated by Peppermint Patty while she attends school.