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I am an educator living in Tasmania Australia. Currently a relief teacher trying to create and personalise my learning journey.

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Simon Youd

Simon Youd

Code Combat, reflecting on using

4 min read

http://codecombat.com/

 

Using CodeCombat in the class

Codecombat is a game that helps to introduce some of the concepts in computer science and the coding languages of javascript or python. You learn about syntax, loops, if this then that sequences, and computational thinking.  Using a game to learn brings gamification to life it also sparks interest working with students that at times have lower literacy levels, lower interest levels (in starting to code or working with computers), they can play a game and learn

I played through the game myself, completing the first 18 parts of section 1 so far. I really enjoyed the game and as I advanced through further levels became faster at recognising what need to be written and any shortcuts that could be used to write faster or less. I had fun this was not traditional learning it was playing a game to learn how to do computer coding. Computer coding is something that I've always wanted to learn but never sat down and spent the time to do, yet now through this game, personally I am learning and practicing using JavaScript as a language to start coding.

I used this as an introduction to computing and coding with students in a juvenile detention centre. Not everyone wanted to play, but those that did really got into and often didn’t want the lesson to end or leave, this never happens normally. Some wanted to play every lesson I taught them, from the start of the lesson, till after time was up, no loss of desire to learn and participate. This was not everyone, but definitely some.

Limitations in setting used

I had some issues with students not allowed to have access to email or chat facilities. The log on required an email address, I made email accounts and used passwords for the sign in that were different to email account logins. I had control of these and this was the only way I could progress with using this in the class. There was some risk in trying this and was definitely outside the norm for what these students would experience in a typical class at this school.

My use of CodeCombat

This is the final level for the first section. You not only need to move your character but you also need to place blocks between you, as a fence, and the enemies that are trying to attack you. The graphics of the game are really good, you have to think through what you are going to do and each level progresses you further into skills and coding.

http://codecombat.com/  

I discovered codecombat after listening to an episode of TIDE (today in digital education) where Doug Belshaw (twitter, blog, discours.es) was using this to start coding at an after school coding club. I bookmarked the site and always thought one day I would come back to it but now I have and used it to learn for myself and in class with students. The engagement levels, of those who wanted to learn more about coding, was high. There was also a high allowance for learning with students who did not have a high literacy level.

Conclusion

I faced a fear and overcame it (previous article), making a go of something to try a new task and push myself out of that comfort zone. I learnt a new skill, used a new tool, and many students did also. I am glad I did this, more risk, bigger risks can lead to bigger rewards. Take the chance and try something new, see where it takes you.... But most importantly, share it with others.

Simon Youd

I am nobody, but that doesn’t matter. Because I share.

2 min read

I am nobody, but that doesn’t matter.

 

Because I share.

 

Not always and not regularly, but I do share. I share stories I recommend on Medium, through IFTTT, as tweets. I bookmark pages on my Known site and then auto share the links through a tweet. I auto share videos I like on YouTube again through tweets. I blog, not as regularly as I should, but I try to write and share.

 

Sharing makes anything you do open and available. Wes Fryer in his article How much should teachers share online referred to a quote as follows

 

In her video, Amy cites Austin Kleon (@austinkleon), author of “Show Your Work,”who says:

“Your work doesn’t exist unless it is online.”

Does that then transfer into a quote remix of saying that: "I share therefore I am". What we share is what other people see of us, what we do, think, read and write. It does not matter who we are, what we do, or don’t do, how experienced we are or how good a teacher we view ourselves as. The fact that we share and put ourselves and our thoughts out there is ultimately what matters.

Share what you think, others can question you on it, challenge your thinking, support you, help you crystallize your focus and thought patterns moving forward. Share your work, others will take it and run with it, making their job easier, refining and tweaking what you have done for their situation, and hopefully provide feedback to help you both grow. Share your reflections and reactions to other people's work and thoughts, grow and learn together, conversation adds meaning and develops that deeper understanding. …..Hmmm….. That sounds like something that teachers should be doing.

Let’s share, learn and grow together, becoming better educators for all students we influence, not just the ones in our classroom walls.

I am a relief teacher (supply, replacement, contract) living in Tasmania, Australia. Yet through sharing, I have made connections with educators in the UK, USA, Asia, and throughout the rest of the world. Who could you connect to that might help them, help you, or help students?

 

Simon Youd

Thinking outside the box

2 min read

Yesterday I was taking a relief lesson where students were learning how to do isometric drawings, which would then be used to design a money box, based on a wooden cube. This really made the students think outside the box on how they were going to design and personalise their money box. Some students started with a few ideas, but most really struggled to grasp what they would doI then brought in the idea of personalising it for them, repurposing the box, to make it theirs. If they were to show me or someone else their bedroom, what in is about them, what were they into. This got most to think some really good ideas, but others were really stuck. 

Change how you think and personlise the task

Some could not see past a 100 x 100 box. We brought out examples of previous work and this got more students to see possibilities and have ideas. The whole idea I was trying to put across was for them to personalise it, make it about them and what they are into. 

This got me to thinking about personalising tasks, whilst not strictly making them individualised. Everyone was working on the money box and had to design one based on the same shape, yet when given the creative freedom to add and change the finished product there was so much diversity and lateral thinking from almost every student. They started at wanting to be told what to do. Then using questioning I tried to lead them into thinking about what they like and how they would like to have it add to the ambience and environment in their bedroom. 

So here in action was a group task, make a money box, with individualised focus on how they produced a completed learning task. How we can create all learning tasks. Remove the standardised all hand in 20-30 of the same thing. Show me how you understand this learning objective through your choice of finished product. This is how I try to base assessment tasks, challenge students to move out of their comfort zones, don't just play school, put yourself into the finished product.