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Teach Your Kids to Code: 6 Beginner's Resources for Parents

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Blogger Matt Davis has collected some handy resources that parents can use to help their kids start learning about computer programming.

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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

I'd also recommend getting involved in the Hour of Code: http://code.org/educate/hoc.

From the website:
Hour of Code is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour.
You can also teach the Hour of Code all year-round. Tutorials will work on browsers, tablets, smartphones, or "unplugged."

From everyone I knew that did this in their class, they were very happy with it and it offered a way to make learning code a bit more recurring than just a one-lesson stint.

Also, my friend and educator, Sam Patterson (who wrote this post about Coding for Kinders: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/coding-for-kindergarteners-sam-patterson) also wrote this helpful post on how to get started with the hour of code: http://www.mypaperlessclassroom.com/2014/08/primary-teachers-learn-codin....

Enjoy!

JasonR's picture
JasonR
CEO of Ucodemy, Father of two and advocate for CS in schools

We are also working hard on finding, enhancing and creating new resources that teachers and parents can use to get kids involved with coding. Try out one of our free courses at http://courses.ucodemy.com

You can also sign up to try out Itch; our very own classroom version of scratch @ www.ucodemy.com/itch.

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7 Tenets of Creative Thinking

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Michael Michalko explains that everyone is an artist and that it takes belief and persistence to nurture this quality. He offers seven principles about creative thinking that he wishes he'd known as a student.
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Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

This article has so much misinformation in it that it would be shocking if it weren't for the fact that this is par for the course now in the creativity and innovation promotion industries. I say this as a recognized master in creativity who has applied advanced creativity techniques in 30 different fields and achieved 40 significant breakthroughs to date.

Especially misleading is #6 There Is No Such Thing As Failure. By over emphasizing the obvious - that you can learn from your mistakes, Michalko, makes the same error that those who promote "smart failing" do, - ignoring the costs of failure. Failure in all levels of life has varying degrees of costs and consequences. How many of you would want to drive a new car whose manufacturer had engineering teams that worked with this ethic? Well, it's happened and we know the consequences - property damage, injury and sometimes loss of life. Failure is to be avoided, learned from when it happens, yes, but not just so the same mistakes are not repeated, but that other types or errors can be avoided as well.

He also makes the critical error, that to me proves that he has nothing more than the most shallow and pedestrian understanding of creativity, and that is to cite the over-cited Edison quote about not failing, just learning how many thousand of ways something didn't work. What people don't don't hear much about is how much Edison hated Nicola Tesla, the true genius that gave us many other inventions among them, AC power (which Edison fought against tooth and nail and even killed elephants as a scare tactic against AC). Tesla would have flashes of inspiration, work out the details and then build his ideas which would work immediately. That's one reason why Edison hated him. Compare Tesla's method to Edison's and it's easy to see which is preferred. Edison's method wastes time, resources, and money as you go through trial and error over and over and over again. Edison had good ideas but he was not a creative genius because creative geniuses apply their creativity to all aspects of the problem solving process, a fact lost on Mr. Michalko. So failure is minimized and becomes less of a factor. It takes many Edisons to equal one Tesla, so many Teslas are worth far more than any number of Edisons. That's a lesson that companies concerned with innovation are learning now.

So how do you get more Teslas? By teaching people how creativity really works, where it really comes from and how to really use it. Something that it would appear is far above Mr. Michalko's pay grade and abilities...

If you want to learn more about how misinformation is running rampant in the innovation promotion industry (and obviously elsewhere), read my new blog - Paranovation at http://www.paranovation.blog.com .

Ed's picture
Ed
Cross-age tutoring program director with an interest in elevating youth

I think the discussion on Michael Michalko's point #6 "There is no such thing as failure" is a bit more nuanced than either Michalko or Marshall Barnes present.
Yes, there is such a thing as failure. It is when an idea does not work and you have learned nothing from the failure. In the lab, I designed all my experiments with components that ensured that no matter how the test came out, I would learn something that would inform an improved experiment next time. Even then, I would still have failures when, unknown to me, a formerly reliable reagent had gone bad or a machine was malfunctioning.

Has Edison been more of scientist, instead of a dogged technician, he would have analyzed his failures, drawn and tested conclusions, and arrived at successes with fewer trails.

I agree mostly with Mr. Barnes about Tesla with regard to his superior creativity. Tesla had the ability to hold and manipulate a large volume of detail in his head. By the time he resorted to experiments in the physical world, his success rate was very high because he had already conducted multiple experiments in his head, and eliminated the false leads. On one transatlantic cruse, he designed a dynamotor (if I recall correctly) in his head, complete with detailed dimensions. He passed on his design to his technicians when he landed, and the fabricated machine worked on first try. As a simple way to convey the concept of holding and manipulating multiple details in your head, try converting the fraction 13/37 into its decimal equivalent to fifteen places, while on a hike, all in your head.

The rivalry between Edison and Tesla displays a point not mentioned by either Michalko or Barnes. Emotions play a large role in hampering a person's creativity. This reduced Edison's ability to look at AC current objectively. I have seen a number of scientists get stuck on a pet idea and spend large parts of their careers passionately work to prove they are right, even when they clearly were not. Human emotion and reaction, displayed as an inability to change one's mind blocks creativity. Stated more positively, cheerful attitude, combined with passion and purpose supports a deeper mental nimbleness and creativity. This works for scientist and all creative endeavors.

Emelina Minero's picture
Emelina Minero
Editorial Assistant

Your quote about how Thomas Edison viewed failure reminds me of a quote form Michael Jordan, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

I love your blog post and completely agree that "You construct reality by how you choose to interpret your experiences."

The first tenet, "You Are Creative," reminds me of the thought, feeling, action loop. You said that if people don't believe they are creative, they won't act creative, and they won't be creative. Their thoughts impact their feelings, which in turn impact their actions.

It amazes me how cultivating self-awareness impacts our ability to become conscious of our thought patterns, ones that impact us both negatively and positively, and how we can use that awareness to look at how those thought patterns/beliefs came to be, and either replicate them, or challenge and change them.

Suzanne's picture

Creative thinking can be encouraged through question stems and prompts. The revised Bloom's taxonomy model for higher order thinking develops an approach to thinking. It deepens understanding of a topic from recall, to analysis and application. I liked the second tenet how it takes work. Each idea begins a process for learning and how to learn leading you to the right answer.

anil kk's picture
anil kk
PhD Candidate in Science Education

Very important points to ignite and sustain creative spirit in the learner. Great presentation.

Sarah Z's picture
Sarah Z
Reading Instructor, Tutor and Blogger focused on improving education for struggling students

Thank you so much. What a beautiful article.
I began to read this thinking I would find ideas for me as a teacher; I ended up finding inspiration and encouragement for me personally instead.

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Will M.'s picture
Will M.
Traveling the world to learn about education

I think building students capacity to be creative is the great unanswered challenge in education today and I've struggled with how best to do it over the course of a year. It's not what you know anymore, it's what you can do with what you know. Also, should we seek to measure growth in creativity or does that undermine the effort by manufacturing a 'right answer'?

jessica.grabato's picture

Wonderful article, something that is worth sharing. I learn a lot , its nice to know how we can improved our creativity. But I disagree with #6 because i know there is a thing such as failure, we all know that we learn from all our mistakes but it doesn't change the fact that we did still fail.

Sarah Z's picture
Sarah Z
Reading Instructor, Tutor and Blogger focused on improving education for struggling students

Thank you so much. What a beautiful article.
I began to read this thinking I would find ideas for me as a teacher; I ended up finding inspiration and encouragement for me personally instead.

(1)

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SEL and the Common Core, Part Two: Why Emotion Vocabulary Matters

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No matter what age student you teach, or for parents, the age of your child, helping children build their emotion vocabularies will help them be more successful in and out of school.
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Miss Valencia's picture

give the students a list of emotions/feelings (with pictures), then read a book and have the students yell out a word from the list that could be used instead

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Fred Mindlin's picture
Fred Mindlin
writing teacher, digital storyteller, creative computing coach

When I work as a substitute teacher, I usually tell the class right away that I'm not going to use their teacher's discipline system, I'm just going to ask them to be kind to each other so we can all have a good day. I explain the etymology from kinship, and ask that we be a learning family together. This usually works, and your piece makes me think I should add some emotion words that we elicit around a discussion of what family means, to deepen the experience. Thanks for the insight.

Maurice Elias's picture
Maurice Elias
Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Wonderful suggestions! Expanding emotion vocabulary is only going to become more and more important. Attaching the vocabulary to an ethic of kindness, or to the operation of a classroom discipline system, is a way of adding to those frameworks while also fostering greater generalization of the use of emotion words!

Miss Valencia's picture

give the students a list of emotions/feelings (with pictures), then read a book and have the students yell out a word from the list that could be used instead

(2)

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Edcamps: Remixing Professional Development

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Edutopia blogger Andrew Marcinek gives us a personal perspective on how the Edcamp model changed his professional focus, and provides examples of how he's adapted this model for staff, students and community.
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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Andy, thank you for this fantastic post. I love how you start out with a bit of Edcamp history and then launch into examples of how you changed professional practice in your school. This is what Edcamp is all about: building and supporting a community of empowered learners. Thanks for so eloquently making the case.

For those interested, Edcamp Philly is celebrating its fifth year in 2014 and will be held at the Science Leadership Academy on May 17th. Tickets are available now:

http://www.edcampphilly.org/

For more about the Edcamp movement, visit us online:

http://edcamp.org/

Thanks again for helping spread the Edcamp gospel.

Kevin Jarrett
Edcamp Co-Founder

whitakin's picture

I enjoyed reading your post. I agree on the unmandated Professional development opportunities. We all struggle with time management at my school and I feel like giving teachers quality time to participate in a PLC is critical for student learning. I love your idea of "Smack Down."

Monique's picture
Monique
Educator

Inspiring! Thank you for sharing. We are planning a EdCamp in Portland, Oregon and look forward to learning from experiences like yours.

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Summer Prep for Back to School: Resources for School Leaders

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Explore resources from Edutopia and the web that support school leaders -- including principals and other administrators -- as they guide school communities into a new school year.

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Five-Minute Film Festival: Mobile Learning

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Intrigued by the idea of using mobile devices for instructional purposes in the classroom? This playlist from VideoAmy will give you some tips and insights into the challenges and the promise of mobile learning.
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6 iPad Apps for Creative Writing

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Edutopia blogger Monica Burns, recognizing that written storytelling doesn't come easily to every child, has hunted down six iPad apps that will bring fun and creative challenge to learning this essential real-world skill.
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Dr. Stephanie Hatten's picture
Dr. Stephanie Hatten
District Technology Specialist, Narrative Researcher, Mom of 4 teenagers,

That is true, we always have to use free apps in our district. That is why I recommended Toontastic. We use the free version of this app to inspire students to write. They create their story and script and then get to make their own characters, settings, and record movement and their voices. I use the free version of Popplet to help them plan their story.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Thanks everyone for sharing some more of your favorite apps!

I love Toontastic! There is a new free storytelling app that is definitely worth checking out - it's called Adobe Voice and I've written about why I think it is perfect for classrooms (and even made my own example!) http://wp.me/p42mcK-RG

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Ashley Bown Murray's picture

Thank you all for posting these wonderful ideas on apps to use for writing. My school has iPads that we can check out and I always struggle on how to use them effectively. I love these ideas on using them for writing because not all students like to write and I think this would encourage them to start. I can't wait to explore these suggestions more in depth!

Beth Kersey's picture
Beth Kersey
Passion for sustainable social good, education, and strategic global partnerships. Currently helping kids learn to read at Open Reading

Look forward to checking a lot of these out, most are new to me! I love the real life Story Cubes so I am sure there are some fantastic tools here- wish there were more free options. Any tips or suggestions for innovative & fun reading apps?

hejames1008's picture
hejames1008
A former educator who will always remain interested in the field and have an opinion.

Great thoughts on using apps in the creative writing classroom! It would be great to see a supplementary list that shows only free apps, as I believe it's in educators' best interests to consider the fact that many students may not be allowed to purchase apps, even for school. I worked in educational districts where a $5 app might mean a family would go without food for a day or even two, and while I believe an education is of tantamount importance, we have to consider the fact that more and more families are living below the poverty line.

There's also the budgetary consideration of school districts, as Dr. Hatten pointed to: some may not allow their educators to purchase apps.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Thanks everyone for sharing some more of your favorite apps!

I love Toontastic! There is a new free storytelling app that is definitely worth checking out - it's called Adobe Voice and I've written about why I think it is perfect for classrooms (and even made my own example!) http://wp.me/p42mcK-RG

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Jeanette Stickel's picture
Jeanette Stickel
I'm a speech therapist in public schools

I use Book Creator. My students love creating stories with this app. They can import images or take photos and then add text. The app costs $4.99. I often pair it with Photogene ($2.99) to crop images I obtain from the Internet - that allows the students to choose topics from animals to super heroes. They can easily drop in images in their ebook to accompany (and often inspire) their stories.

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Five-Minute Film Festival: Arts Integration Turns STEM to STEAM

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Intrigued by the idea of adding the arts to STEM education? This video playlist highlights programs and projects around the country that are exploring STEAM learning.
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Ashley Gomez's picture
Ashley Gomez
Former Community Engagement & Social Media Marketing Intern

Wow, love this compilation of videos. Makes me wish they had STEAM back when I was in K-12!

raymond rose's picture
raymond rose
Online Learning and Accessibility Evangelist

I wish we'd see the Arts integrated into STEM in a different way. STEAM has interesting connotations, and I frequently see images of steam engines used with STEM and Arts programs. Maybe not as visually appealing, but more 21st century would be to integrate the Arts into STEM as TEAMS -- which is more accurate in describing how the Arts is integrated into STEM in real life.

Evy Roy's picture
Evy Roy
Former Community and Social Media Intern at Edutopia

Raymond rose, I love that idea. STEAM (or TEAMS) is all about collaboration and integration, and the word "teams" conjures up images of kids working together, rather than an industrial steam engine. Thanks for those thoughts.

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STEM to STEAM: Resource Roundup

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Whether you are looking for resources on integrating science, technology, engineering, and math or on infusing the arts to transform STEM into STEAM, this curated compilation will help you strategize around different approaches to integrated studies.

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SamanthaW's picture

I will be teaching Kindergarten this summer school using the STEAM design. I am also a beginning teacher. This article and videos helped me understand more about what STEAM is all about. Are there any suggestions or advice anyone can give me?

Scott Bedley @scotteach's picture
Scott Bedley @scotteach
Teacher, Creator, Un-Maker, Foodie, Global School Play Day

Hey Samantha, I thinking starting simple and using something like Caine's Arcade https://youtu.be/faIFNkdq96U may be the way to go. Having volunteers there to support the kids but coaching them not to overstep and do things for the kids would be important. When long term planning start by looking at integration to content and limit yourself in the first year to doing one every other month or one a month. It's easy to over-commit yourself and have projects that become challenging to finish without too much adult intervention and work. I love the quote my dad always told me... "If we do something for children that they can do for themselves, we steal an opportunity from them to build responsibility, creativity and confidence." You are going to love going full STEAM ahead!

(1)
Scott Bedley @scotteach's picture
Scott Bedley @scotteach
Teacher, Creator, Un-Maker, Foodie, Global School Play Day

Hey Samantha, I thinking starting simple and using something like Caine's Arcade https://youtu.be/faIFNkdq96U may be the way to go. Having volunteers there to support the kids but coaching them not to overstep and do things for the kids would be important. When long term planning start by looking at integration to content and limit yourself in the first year to doing one every other month or one a month. It's easy to over-commit yourself and have projects that become challenging to finish without too much adult intervention and work. I love the quote my dad always told me... "If we do something for children that they can do for themselves, we steal an opportunity from them to build responsibility, creativity and confidence." You are going to love going full STEAM ahead!

(1)

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Apply for a Teacher Travel Grant This Summer

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Teacher travel grants can be the perfect source to fund professional development, service-learning, and study abroad trips. Here are some resources to help teachers apply and the best sources to look.
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GEEO's picture

Another resource you may want to look at is www.geeo.org. Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that runs summer professional development travel programs designed for teachers.

Educators have the option to earn graduate school credit and professional development credit while seeing the world. The trips are 8 to 24 days in length and are designed and discounted to be interesting and affordable for teachers. GEEO provides teachers educational materials and the structure to help them bring their experiences into the classroom. The trips are open to all nationalities of K-12 and university educators and administrators, as well as retired educators. Educators are also permitted to bring along a non-educator guest.

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geoeduktr's picture

For Indiana teachers, I believe the Eli Lilly Teacher Renewal Grants are still available. Just another avenue for travel.

saturdaysun's picture

I just saw this article on my news feed. Isn't it too late to get a grant for this summer?

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Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

saturdaysun, while this piece focuses on summer, the grants listed don't necessarily share that focus. Their deadlines will vary depending.

Gordon's picture

A great source of paid summer travel for teachers is actually the federal government
Go to http://www.neh.gov/divisions/education/summer-programs
In late October for the following summer teacher seminars, institutes and landmark classes.
Running anywhere from 1-6 weeks you receive a stipend to cover your expenses. 2015 was the last year for international programs but they have them based in the humanities all across the U.S.

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Mattie Johnson's picture
Mattie Johnson
Media Specialist for Southern High School

The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) offer study travel tours for teachers after you complete CEU credit with them. Their main purpose is to provide professional development on East Asia for K-12 teachers nationwide.

saturdaysun's picture

I just saw this article on my news feed. Isn't it too late to get a grant for this summer?

(1)
Gordon's picture

A great source of paid summer travel for teachers is actually the federal government
Go to http://www.neh.gov/divisions/education/summer-programs
In late October for the following summer teacher seminars, institutes and landmark classes.
Running anywhere from 1-6 weeks you receive a stipend to cover your expenses. 2015 was the last year for international programs but they have them based in the humanities all across the U.S.

(2)
GEEO's picture

Another resource you may want to look at is www.geeo.org. Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that runs summer professional development travel programs designed for teachers.

Educators have the option to earn graduate school credit and professional development credit while seeing the world. The trips are 8 to 24 days in length and are designed and discounted to be interesting and affordable for teachers. GEEO provides teachers educational materials and the structure to help them bring their experiences into the classroom. The trips are open to all nationalities of K-12 and university educators and administrators, as well as retired educators. Educators are also permitted to bring along a non-educator guest.

(2)

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