In preparation for Matariki, I have been working on a resource for students to build a Star Dome in their classrooms from recycled cardboard and then populate the ceiling of their Star Dome with the constellations of the southern skies with LEDs controlled via a simple parallel circuit with resistors and a cardboard switch in it, all connected with copper tape.
I am looking forward to testing this resource in several schools in term 2. The LEDS and resistors have been ordered and are currently inbound from China. Just need to go dumpster diving now for the large cardboard boxes we will need to make the 12 equilateral triangles needed for each Star Dome.
We have just launched our third Merge Cube tutorial onto You Tube. In this tutorial we show you how to import images from your computer onto the stage and how to add this to the cube. We then embark on creating a simple animation of an object in Merge Cube, using the CoSpaces coding blocks. These first three tutorials will give the average user enough information and skills to allow them to start to build and code their own Merge Cube environments.
We have started to collaborate with others on creating resources for teachers to use, utilising Merge Cube’s AR features. In one school we are creating an integrated literacy resource based around the novel The London Eye Mystery, where the students will have to create 6 key scenes from the novel as scenes on the Merge Cube and they will then have to animate these scenes, add audio voice overs for the characters and finally write a narrators script for the video they will create in the CoSpaces app when their models are complete. Watch this space for the resource once it is complete.
Also in production is the creation of a Merge Cube resource that will allow students to look at opposing views of the same event. 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s landing in New Zealand and the clash of cultures that sparked. We are creating a Merge Cube resource that will allow students to investigate and share their understandings of how both sides of this encounter may have thought and reacted on that historic day, again watch this space for more information on that resource.
I have spent the last week or so creating a couple of tutorials to support teachers through the CoSpaces/Merge Cube interface. Today I have launched the first of these two new video tutorials. This tutorial covers how to manage and edit the cube and how to add and manipulate content from the CoSpaces library onto the cube.
I am trying to keep these tutorials bite sized in order to make them accessible and skill specific. In watching this tutorial through a number of times I can already see that I will need to produce another supplimentary tutorial in order to cover all of the menu features on objects, but that is for another time. The next video tutorial deals with how to add code to an object using the CoSpaces code blocks and should be out later this week.
I have just embarked on a creating a series of tutorials related to creating content for the Merge Cube. As with most of these types of tools, I always find the pre created content too generic and passive for students, often rendering the tool to the realm of gimmick in the classroom. It might look cool to the untrained eye, but basically the content and the student interaction with it is limited and passive. Whilst there is plenty of content in the Merge Cube Gallery created by other educators, there is nothing quite so empowering as ownership.
Therefore I have subscribed to the CoSpaces pro account and have added the Merge Cube add on so that students can create their own content and manipulate that content in their hands with the Merge Cube. One of the avenues I am looking at exploring with my DT/HM contracts is Taonga. I am especially interested in using the combination of student created video and audio content and combining this content with the 3D modelled Taonga of the students.
I have already captured the content for three or possibly four tutorials and am in the process of editing the second video, it all takes time. But this first video is simply an overview of the Merge Cube space within CoSpaces and the location and range of the various tools tools and menus in the Merge Cube space. The real content, will begin to appear in the next video, so watch this space, in the meantime enjoy this overview tutorial.
I have started the process of updating my Scratch activities so that the support materials I have created over the last few years now look like the updated block design and colours that are in the updated Scratch 3.0 environment. It will be a long job, I have lots of Scratch activities, lessons and tutorials to support teachers and students with integrating coding, using Scratch into their class programme.
I have decided to work backwards, in other words, I am updating my latest resources first and will work my way backwards through time, as I said, this is going to take some time to do. So keep checking back here to see what progress I am making.
The resource I have just updated is my two-part “Dance Mat” activity. This challenge is designed to be integrated into a technology program and so is a mix of coding and hard materials design, proto-typing and construction using Makey Makey as the interface between the hard materials and the coding in Scratch.
This last week has been a busy one for the schools I support. The start of the week saw Jacqui Sharp and I run two days of workshops for teachers at Hingaia Penninsula School. On the first day we ran an introduction to coding workshop, where we introduced teachers to the delights and power of Scratch. The second day was a STEAM workshop, where we extended teachers to integrate several technologies into integrated learning modules.
On Wednesday and Thursday I ran two teacher only days for the teachers at Royal Oak Intermediate. On the first day I took the teachers through the workings of Google Drive, Classroom and a range of learning tools including Google Forms, awwapp and screencastify. On the second day we looked at implicit bias in learning and challenged teachers to allow the hard questions into their classrooms to challenge the orthodoxy of their pedagogy, the content of the curriculum and the impact it has on our students. We then investigated tools and resources that would allow that to happen in their class. After this full on day of learning for teachers, I then drove to Taranaki for the final PD day of the week.
In Taranaki, Jacqui and I were again working together, this time to launch the Kahui Ako o te Kohanga CoL contract on digital fluency, with a focus on numeracy. The day was excellent, with over 54 teachers and principals in attendance, then after this day, there was the drive back to Auckland to contend with. All in all a good week, next week is looking just as busy!
In preparation for some Teacher Only Days I am running next week I have made some new literacy resources for teachers to use. The aim of these resources is to enable students to develop their visual literacy skills through examining images that are authentic, engaging and hopefully provocative at the same time. The resources are aimed at students in years 7-9 but can be adapted to any age by simple changing the types of questions or the subject matter. I have already created a range of similar resources for younger students.
The students are left to make their own decisions about how they want to present the final output, in the resource I have suggested that they use a combination of the following tools:
The long awaited and slightly delayed Scratch 3.0 is here. This is good news for iPad users, as now Scratch will work on iPads and with out an app. Scratch 3.0 is HTML5 compliant and will therefore play on anything. This is good news, it now removes the requirement that some schools had for using Tynker on iPads and Scratch on other devices, or making the leap to Tynker completely. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Tynker is excellent, I code my drones with it, but Scratch has a longer history in schools and the advent of CT and the new Digital Technologies curriculum means that teachers need to have Scratch, or Tynker just work on whatever devices they put in front of their kids. Scratch 3.0 lets that happen.
dSo what is the downside? None really, the interface looks slightly different, the blocks look slightly different, but the good news is that tools like edscratch have been using Scratch type blocks for a while now. Also the integration with other third party hardware like Makey Makey, BBC Microbit and even LEGO Mindstorms has just moved Scratch 3.0 into another realm, a good one too.
The only downside I can see of the new look, greater functioned Scratch 3.0 for me is the necessity perhaps of having to update all of my Scratch 2.0 based resources for teachers and students…
Perhaps, for the sake of teacher sanity, the sound blocks have been removed from the default block list on the standard Scratch 3.0 interface. I think it will take the students about 30 seconds to find the cat meow again however, so sanity is perhaps not saved… I am looking forward to rolling this out into my client schools in 2019.
This is the third iteration of the dakinane.com website. We have started the new year with a new site and we are very excited to see how the new look and the amalgamation of the content we have created and shared on other sites and domains over the years, gives our clients a better and faster way to access our content and resources.
You can see from the logos below that we have been busy with other projects, but now you can access some or all of these resources from one central location. As ever, we are keen to hear from you. What are your thoughts about our new layout? We wanted to make sure that there was less us in terms of text and more us in terms of the content we have been creating the learning experiences we have designed and implemented in schools.
To access the sites implied by these logos, you will have to scroll through the site to find them, so that you can have a chance to browse our content. Let us know what you think of the new look in the comments. Have a great 2019, we have lots of ideas to implement and innovations to deliver to schools up and down the country. We hope to see you in your classroom soon.