Micro:Bit – Tinkering with a Micro Processor

The Micro:Bit is a very interesting microprocessor that was gifted to all Year & students IMG_9918in the UK in 2016 – it is said that many were given and never turned on as there were rafts of teachers and students who did not have the time, curiosity or ability to get them working.

The BBC Micro:Bit

I had a short play with one at the FOBIT conference in Singapore earlier in the year and have wanted to explore the device further ever since. After picking one up for $15us on Ebay I have been reading, testing, exploring, playing and tinkering and I only wish that I had a whole class set. The resources are there, they are able to be coded in many different ways (my favourite is JavaScript Blocks Editor, which is Scratch like in design and presentation) and the STEAM applications are immense.

rxubgeld
image from BBC Micro:Bit website

The Technology Will Save Us Blog offers a Lego Challenge and by adding a few bricks I had a device that at the turn of a dial told me the temperature in the room.

Through nesting a few loops I was able to turn my Micro:Bit into a Magic 8 Ball (well Magic 6 Ball) that when shaken provided one of 6 random messages to be displayed across the 5X5 LED screen.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 7.09.03 PM

Lastly, it may have been a bit messy and fiddly, but I was able to download the iOS app to my iPhone, Bluetooth pair it with my Micro:Bit and then send the code I had written through the airwaves to make the device work in a way that I wanted.

In short… Micro:Bit – Cool, easy to use, I want more for my classroom and so much scope to be used from beginner to advanced level.

Advertisements

Really getting into Coding with Scratch

It has been too long since I have written here (there are dozens of unfinished posts over the past 3 years, but few published). I am now in Vietnam and teaching ICT, rather than a classroom teacher, and it has been a whirlwind of difference. It is a much bigger school, but as I teach most of the students I get to know them all and it allows me to be the kind of teacher that I normally am.

Big change as been, other than having access to Google again, the amount of coding that I teach using Scratch and it can be upwards of 15 hours a week. I feel that I now dream in Blockly and ‘if then’ or ‘forever’ loops. It is like being immersed in a language and it has increased my knowledge beyond all belief.

Year 1 throughscratch-music 3 are using the offline editor and are learning to make instruments play a tune or making balls bounce around the screen and play a recorded sound when they collide. Year 4-6 are making playable video games and now beginning to realise that they are able to create games in their own time (such as the final scratchgame).

Scratch has recently introduced Educator Accounts, for which you need to apply and get approval (a day to wait), but this now allows you to manage multiple online classes, reset their forgotten passwords, add or remove students and sign them up without the need for email addresses to login – such a time s
aver and it may help me keep my hair a few more years.

There are scores of resources out there, any question that you have is answered by a forum post or YouTube tutorial and once you give it a go your students will love it. I know that when they get to Secondary they will be problem solvers, better at logic and reasoning and have a good understanding about how code is laid out and how to change variables and create loops and conditionals.

My first successful game (Even though it has a glitch or too)

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/140541688/?autostart=false

This game was created by a student as part of his International Week homework to teach visiting year 2 and 3 students about Ecuador in a fun way.

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/136647435/?autostart=false

Do you travel? Give something back to other travelers. 

I’m a traveller. I like nothing more than visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. It doesn’t bother me if I can’t speak the language or it is a bit uncomfortable, I just love the experience of being somewhere new.

In the past few years when ever I ask Google a question about what to do or where to eat it has been TripAdvisor that answers all my questions. It is normally on the money with its recommendations and is worth its weight in gold. So, as if I am to be this digital citizen and content contributor that I talk about with my students I need to take my travel experiences and share them with other travellers. I have joined TripAdvisor, earned my first badge for 5 reviews and I hope that I will help others in the way that they have helped me. I urge you to do the same, as it doesn’t matter if you are an intrepid traveller or don’t stray far from home, if you have a smart phone you can reward that amazing coffee shop, restaurant or holiday accommodation with a review. 

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.

This ancient Chinese proverb expresses how I feel my learning has been progressing the past 6 months, not stagnant, but moving forward slowly and as the end of the year approaches, and the first anniversary of this blog also approaches, I can say I am not standing still, but may need to walk a bit faster.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 4.30.05 PM
This Webpage is Not Available – a very common occurrence behind the GFW.

This is my first blog I write since August where I have not needed to turn on my trusty VPN as I am in Singapore on holiday – it is liberating. Living and working behind the Great Firewall has been an adventure, but the internet restrictions of the GFW have stolen half the tools within my 21st Century Teacher Toolbox…

-YouTube
-Google Docs and Apps for Education
-Blogger
-Wordpress
-Edublogs (Unless we subscribe as a school for over $1000)
-Twitter
-Skype

…all unreachable within my classroom environment. Blogging platforms and Google  gone from a modern classroom seems unthinkable and I have spent the past half year rethinking and reworking my philosophy to ed tech as it relates to my present situation.

Stolen from Smosh.com.

The Classroom

All of the restrictions aside there is still much that I can do as a professional for my own learning and there are still ways that I can create a connected classroom…

-I am creating a class Wiki.  Wikis are not my preferred  tool with a year 2 class, but it will suffice in the absence of a blog. Additionally, it will allow me to embed YouKu videos (China’s version of YouTube) and gives us a platform to share work as well as host relevant clips for flipped learning at home. With many of my parents not being native English speakers it may also break down the barriers between school and home.

-Skype: I can access skype through my personal VPN, so connecting with other classes through Skype is achievable.

-Email: Letters never seem to arrive, but connecting to other classes through email is a definite.

The Teacher

Now for me as a learner and a connected teacher I just need to keep looking at the glass being half full. I am researching into some online study, but reconnecting with my PLN is a must, as through the GFW and timezone differences I have been inactive on Twitter and Google+ and not dedicated the time to blog reading and hashtag following that I normally would. Edcamp Home is a mere 14 days away and I can not think of a better way to inspire a new year and prepare a teacher for the second term.

I have discovered that learning to code is like a Soduku  or Crossword and is giving me a better understanding of how a computer and the internet works. I am halfway through a html course on Code Academy and trying to create Apps for my Android phone with MIT AppInventor (You have to give it a go if you have an Android, and get your class to give it a go too!).

I got my class involved with Decembers Hour of Code initiative for Computer Science week  – seeing 6 year olds programming Angry Birds was inspiring and let me know that Scratch, another product of MIT,  will be part of my class program next term.

Lastly I need to remember about this blog – writing a blog post like this is the best way for me to clear my head and order my thoughts, make a plan and direct my thinking, let me reflect and redirect, as that was the purpose of this blog when I created it, but if I do not use it with regularity is is a waste.

All good things come to an end – When a Blog Retires

On the 26th of March 2009 I began my blogging journey and this week that first blog retires.

It began as a chore, it was a requirement as part of an ICT contractblog archive and I struggled to see the worth of blogging. Parents didn’t comment, I didn’t post. The blog floundered and only 12 posts happened that year.  Then I tried a bit harder and a bit more happened, but not really a lot. By June of 2011, two years after inception we had only reached the milestone of 3,500 pageviews.
What was the problem? There was inconsistency of posting, little interactivity with the blog and people not having a reason to visit the blog.
2012 began and we blogged it all… and it worked. We entered the Interface Awards and became finalists. We reached 10,000 views in September and have not looked back. With the introduction of the iPad and my iPhone we could blog and post on the go gorilla style anywhere and we have.
Like my first car, I will miss this blog and have fond memories, but I will have new blogs as I head to new classes. Success and mistakes that I have had and learned will be applied or considered in the future. Although the url is ‘MrDyerHFS’ the author was not me alone, it was the 140 students that I have taught over the past 4 years and 3 months that it has been active.

My Highlights include…

Blogging the Triathlon as it happened.

My first real gorilla blogging experience with images, comments and video.

A City in a Day
When our class swarmed from 20 to 30 overnight with refugees from the Christchurch Earthquake we built a city as a way to look at what a city might need and what makes a city other than the people.


Connecting with parents and grandparents

We have had comments in German and we have had comments in Italian and comments from aunties in America

Skype

Our one Skype chat with a year 1 class in Hamilton. THey were fascinated at our snow (They had never seen snow), we were fascinated with their bus (it had their schools name on it).

skype_logo-580x367

Interface Awards Finalist 2012

This is where I became inspired by, connected to and friends with…
@traintheteacher
@nickitempero
@AnnaGerrit
@PalmyTeacher

30,000 views celebration cake

The title says it all…

A Cake for the Class from Dukelyer on Vimeo.

And then there has been awesomeness such as

Quadblogging

The Travelling Rhino Project

#KidsEdChatNZ

Video Scribe – an amazing visual presentation tool.

Here is a short play that I have had with a new app called Video Scribe.  It came from watching a blog entry by Mark Anderson (@ICT_Evangelist) about effectively using 1 iPad in a classroom. I am a big fan of the RSA Animate videos and this App allows me to create something similar to them.

  • It took me 20 minutes to create
  • Saved it to Camera Roll
  • Opened in iMovie
  • Audio over the top – Sorry about the cold
  • Upload to YouTube/Vimeo

…now imagine how a student could use it as a tool to add to their presentation? To share their learning journey? To explain a process? As a visual recipe book? As a… well, imagination is the only barrier!

Apps that Create – GIF Makers

GifI have used many a .gif file (Graphic Interchange Format), but until the other day never created one. There have animation_by_GifMEbeen two iOS apps that I have trailed over the past week and both have simple interfaces, are easy to work and the end result is a GIF image that can be uploaded to blogs, webpages or other presentations.

The two Apps that I have used are GIF Shop and Gif Me, I am sure that there are online webpages or downloadable programs that will do the same or better, but both these Apps are cheap (Were actually free on Apps Gone Free).  Both gather images through either your camera roll or take images through front or back cameras.  You sequence the images, choose the speed of the Gif and then create. You are able to email to a friend or save to camera roll.  The whole process takes no longer than a few minutes.

Applications in the classroom

  1. Sharing a sequence.
  2. Advertising an event.
  3. Showing change over time time.
  4. Get kids to create a GIF from photos taken every Monday over a term.
  5. Just cool!

Why not a video?

  • Gif is just an image file, so does not need to be embedded through Youtube or Vimeo.
  • File size is quite small, where video is much larger.
  • Just shows images in a set sequence and can create from photos taken over a long time period.