Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Makecode and Microbit - ISTE 2018

As part of the CS Firehose I went to hear about MakeCode and Micro:bit.

Micro:bit is a pocket size computer, in a similar style vein to a Raspberry Pi, (though not as powerful I believe, more like a code-able Makey-Makey), and Makecode is visual based coding software that can be used to programme it.

I thought that MakeCode was a very similar to Scratch and wouldn't be an issue for students or teachers to switch between them. The logic was very similar, as was the interface, AND IT WORKS STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BROWSER! (and therefore is ready to go on the chromebooks!)

Image result for makecode

I also really liked the Micro-bit, and what it can do. There were some really cool and easy-to-get started ideas that are fun and engaging. 

Within 30 seconds of opening the software and plugging in the Micro:bit I was able to get my name to scroll across the LED lights on the device... Really cool, really simple.
Within 10 minutes I had a simple question across the screen, with 2 answer inputs and relevant responses for them.
Is this fun?
[Yes] ---> Awesome!
[No]  ---> Boooo!

This straight away told me that this product has a very accessible floor, where pretty much anyone can plug it in and run with. Yet in the presentation I also got to see examples of some really cool robotic projects, where the ceiling was far far higher. 


Another really cool think about the MicroBit, is that is compatible with Scratch. Therefore there is this fantastic opportunity to extend the Scratch projects that the learners are creating using physical and tangible objects. At least thats the pitch I was sold, I din't get a chance to do this myself, but it's definitely an exciting concept that I'm interested to try out.

Overview (Copy pasted from site) 

  • 25 individually-programmable LEDs
  • 2 programmable buttons
  • Physical connection pins
  • Light and temperature sensors
  • Motion sensors (accelerometer and compass)
  • Wireless Communication, via Radio and Bluetooth
  • USB interface
  • Let's take a look at what these components do and discover how to code them!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Introducing Scratch 3.0 - ISTE 2018

After hearing Dr. Mitch Resnick introduce Scratch 3.0 in the Keynote for the CS Firehose I was really excited to hear him talk more about it in a later session.

Scratch 3.0 is currently still in development, and the Beta version won't be available till about August-ish. However there is a preview version of the software available to try. Which I did. See here.

There are some obvious Visual and interface differences that makes it seem more modern and user friendly. There is also upgrades coming for Sprites and backdrops, Paint Editor, Sound Editor, and Compatibility. Read more about the upgrades here

Current Version

Scratch 3.0

CS Firehose Keynote - ISTE 2018

ISTE Computer Science Network- CS Firehose 2018

Opening Session and Keynote

Dr. Mitch Resnick - Kids, Coding, and Creativity
Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab.

His Lifelong Kindergarten research group develops the Scratch programming software
and online community (, used by millions of young people around the
world. The group also collaborates with the LEGO Company on the development of new
educational ideas and products, including LEGO Mindstorms and WeDo robotics kits.
Resnick co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, an international network of 100
after-school learning centers where youth from low-income communities learn to
express themselves creatively with new technologies.

Projects, Passion, Peers & Play

Stories about Kids on Scratch

Abhi - makes scratch animations very cartoon like to express himself - computationally
  • Scratch community provides him with feedback and encouragement.

Bubble103 - School projects. Water Cycle, and research projects
I love the idea of working with kids from round the world
Love Colour Divide RPG - Trailer (made by Bubble103)
Comfortable taking risks and making mistakes. -An opportunity to learn something new.

Charlottes Web - book review, some very good Maths problems here that would fit with DMiC
Storytelling through scratch
Perspective - Making the pig get smaller to show its further away. In the code she had multiplied the size by a fraction

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Balancing Strand and Number with the DMIC process

Before I started DMIC this year I always felt that the balance between teaching Strand and Number was difficult to get right. If you spent too long on Strand you felt like you didn't progress your students enough in Number Strategies.

With the DMIC process I spend the majoritysds of my teaching time in Strand, however there is a strong focus on Number through the Strand teaching. In fact often the Strand element of the problem is only to introduce the number.

For example when teaching a Measurement problem, the context may be converting Kilometers to Meters or vice versa (and that will be a crucial piece of strand knowledge to have/ obtain). However, the actual problem will require the use of number knowledge to solve.
When introducing the strand concept of conversion I would keep the number problem relatively simple, as the conversion is the focus. i.e. 5km plus 3000m or something.
However, as we become comfortable with the idea of converting measurement units then this simply becomes the context for tricky number problems. i.e.  3.05km - 1200m, 0.32m x 4 etc.
Students then decide for themselves whether or not the conversion aspect is necessary.

For this reason the Strand and Number balance has become really easy.
The basic principal is:
- If the Strand knowledge is the focus keep the number aspect simple.
- If the Strand knowledge isn't the focus then complicate the number aspect.