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.

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.

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!

Are we using Technology for Technologies sake or to make a difference?

I am in a bit of a conundrum and have a question that I seem to ask myself every six months.  I look at the technology that I use in my class and dreamcastwhat I see as being important to my students with becoming digital citizens and have to ask myself am I using all this technology to make a difference or just because it makes it all look prettier and engages the students in the same way that a PSP or Gameboy would? I know that the students I teach are born into a digital world and technology is part of their lives, but I need to ensure that the technology that is used enhances their learning instead of just coinciding with it.

I assume that if you are reading this that you are an educator so I want you to ask yourself the same question about your classroom and the classes within the school that you work. Is it all making a difference or just more engaging for the students?  I have a feeling that if you are taking the time to read this that you are one of the few that are looking at technology as a way to enhance education and provide students with opportunities that were previously unattainable without modern technology, but how many classes in your school still use computers to publish stories and I pads to play maths and spelling games? With most schools the technology is in place, but the pedagogy behind the technology and the vision and understanding is not.  We still use the term 21st Century Teaching and Learning, but in 2013 we should just be calling it Teaching and Learning.

Now I know that those of us who are the leaders of eLearners within our schools have only just reached the point where we have gotten the reluctant eTeachers on board or are still battling them to come to the party, but we still need to be moving forwards and improving our own practice and that of our colleagues who are thriving in the technological world alongside us. Now I have mentioned SAMR previously, but yesterday I came across the flow chart below and traced it back through Twitter to a man who I always get inspired by when I read his tweets named Mark Anderson (@ICTEEvangelist).  This Flow chart, created and freely shared for our use by Mark, is  the ultimate tool for use within a school as it is so simple in use, but instantly identifies if your chosen tool or lesson is at a low or high level in relation to SAMR and then provides you with a clear path for rethinking your choice.

SAMR-flow-chart-y93myt-1024x724 (1)

Look at the flow chart, take it to your Syndicate and Staff meetings, get your colleagues to look at it to and evaluate their technology usage and maybe we will really begin to put all the technology that is within our schools to use in the way that it was intended.

Applying the SAMR Model to my classroom

After refocusing myself with my blogging process and jumping back to the beginning with my students I have been looking quite closely at my integration of technology within my classroom. I have just read a posting by Jackie Gerstein discussing how many schools Teach Web 1.0, claim 2.0, but should be aiming for Web 3.0. She uses the term Heutagogy and lifelong learning . Then in a chat with a colleague on twitter it was raised that we say 21st Century Learning, yet we are into the 13th year of the 21st Century, so should we just now call it learning?

When visiting Point England School in the Manaiakalani Cluster in Auckland last year there was a presentation from the school ambassadors, a group of year 6 students who welcome the many visitors to the school and share the learning and vision of the school. Each child shared their education story and had a paint drawn picture on the projector behind them. Their pictures included images such as the iPhone and Steve Irwin. They then asked us why they had chosen those images, as they were there for a reason, the reason was that those things, the first iPhone, the death of Steve Irwin, happened in their first few weeks of education. The then articulated that prior to these things, quite big events in our lives, were just history like we view World War 1 – they were their past, and things happening before them were not a part of their life. They are here now and want to be taught in the now, not the past.

So how do we see the effectivness of our teaching and use of technology? Other than observing students, their creations and their progress, we can apply the SAMR model to our classroom. Are we enhancing with Substitutuon or Augmentation or are we Transforming the learning with Modification and Redefinition?

My Class as of Week 7 Term 1 2013
Publishing writing on Word: Some feel that this is not nessasary, but my kids love it, get to learn skills like typing, text modification, digital layout of a page and inserting images. (I could almost argue that it was Augmentation)
Monline Basic Facts Games – Great for taking into deeper levels of knowledge and for kids to learn without really knowing that they are learning, but could almost be as effective with board games.
Learning Based Games Such as Mathletics and STEPs to Literacy: Direat data is availible to me as the teacher and able to design the learining to the individual students. They are also able to use at home.
Blogging: Like buddy classes that you would send letters to and recieve back 3 months later if you were lucky, of often that never returned.
Email and Text Messaging: Notes would usually get home, phonecalls would usually get the parent, but an email is quick and easy, as is the text message, and communication is instantaneous and a connection is made.
Audioboo and Soundcloud: Takes the 20th Century tape deck and records instantaneously to be ombeded in blogs.
Blogging: The walls of the classroom are torn down and parents now get to see what is happening. They have the cues to discuss with their children as they hae seen the images of the firld trip before the clild had gotten home from school.
Skype: You are now inside another classroom and connecting with them. responding directly to their questions and asking your own.
Digital Creation: At the moment this is Modification, but I hope that by the middle of the year it will have moved onto the redefinition stage. iMovies created by 7 year olds to share with Quad Blogging classes on the other side of the world what our school looks like and why it is special.
Digital Photos and Digital Photo manipulation.
…now this is where I am lacking and where I wish to head towards. Movies at the moment are teacher directed, as we are still learning some of the skills, but when they become a tool for sharing their learning, when the music on the clis was created bythem or sources by them from Creative Commons sites, oh the creation will be very different. I feel that once they take ownership of the learning and take the skills that they have developed and make their own meaning then I will have reached the Redefinition stage and this is where I aim towards.

OK, so I’m here. I’m a teacher living and teaching in the 21st Century, not a 21st Century Educator, heck I graduated in 2002 and began Teachers College in 2000, so have not ever trained or taught in the 20th Century. I feel that I am Enhancing with my use of technology and branching into Transforming and though assessing my practice I have a clearer Idea of where I am and where I want to go.
I finish with a quote I read today “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking”.