Author Archives: TechnoHella

TechnoHella

About TechnoHella

Hella Comat, Curriculum Writer - Hella Comat is a dedicated professional, who has taught in the education system for more than 30 years. As a pioneer of technology integration in Ontario public schools she was one of the first teachers to introduce the internet, video conferencing, web design, and multimedia learning activities to teachers and students in the Halton Board. To inspire teachers to use technology, she has led sessions for the Touch Technology program, ran workshops at education conferences, and sat on numerous advisory committees related to technology-issues. In recent years she taught the Computer in the Classroom course, at York University. Her lifelong commitment to teaching and learning was acknowledged when she was honored as the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, and Mathematics. Hella's contribution to the blog includes entries about the importance of technology integration. Drawing from her in-depth knowledge of technology in the classroom Hella writes about teaching strategies and useful resources that can benefit your practice. In addition, she provides innovative lesson ideas that you can implement into your own curriculum.

Microsoft Forms TechnoTrivia Project! Just Released

microsoft forms technotrivia project

Great news! TechnoKids has just published a new version of TechnoTrivia for Microsoft Online users. Google Apps users have already been able to use this project to create fun quizzes but now it has been updated for Microsoft Forms as well.

As part of Office 365, Microsoft Forms is an online survey creator. Students and teachers can use it to make quizzes, polls, and surveys with automatic marking. They can write a variety of question types, include pictures and video, set a scoring system, generate an answer key with helpful feedback, and even export data to Excel to analyze the results.

TechnoTrivia is a great project to introduce these skills. Hook student interest as they make a fun trivia game to play with their friends. The topic may be integrated into curriculum subjects, such as Solar System Challenge or My Country Quiz. Or, it can be based on an area of personal interest – Prove You Are a John Lennon Fan or So You Think You Know Sports.

microsoft forms trivia project

Add pictures and a theme to enhance the trivia quiz.

Educational Value of Quiz Creation

Critical thinking skills

Today’s students are avid consumers of technology, but essential learning really takes place when they become creators of technology. Making up survey questions requires the ability to consider another’s background knowledge and interests. In TechnoTrivia, students are challenged to write thought provoking questions to test a player’s knowledge. When students see their peers’ responses, they analyze how to change their quiz to make it easier or more difficult.

Real world application

As students create a quiz and test it out on classmates, family, and friends they get immediate feedback. They can see how their new skills can have a practical purpose. Learning is much more likely to be enhanced if students can see its relevance and everyday applications.

Engage student interest

A quiz with odd, interesting, and/or silly facts is a fun task that appeals to anyone. Taking the role of a quizmaster, students are hooked into entertaining and testing others with a trivia quiz. The variety of questions – multiple choice, true/false, multiple answer, picture, video, and short answer make this project a sure hit with kids.

Consolidate learning

The process of creating quiz questions about a theme or school subject area helps to embed information. Quiz questions can identify learning gaps but also provide a firm foundation in reviewing and preserving critical concepts. The project has many suggestions on how to incorporate a quiz into curriculum. Math Drill and Practice, Who am I?, Art Crawl, Where in the World?, and Spelling Bee are just a few of the quiz integration ideas. See this blog for 20 great teaching ideas for using Forms to make quizzes.

Point of view

Looking at information from a different angle aids in understanding. Thinking about data from the perspective of questioning, students play the role of a teacher or assessor. They build analytical skills. By composing questions, students are much more likely to grasp, absorb, and retain important details. And generating challenging questions is sometimes harder than expected!

Build confidence

The emphasis in TechnoTrivia is not on the scores achieved by players but on creating a fun and entertaining quiz. Students practice rewriting questions to make just the right mix of difficulty – not too easy so that the player loses interest and not too difficult so that they might give up. They also add a range of feedback comments for the player to foster encouragement, to provide additional information, and to praise correct answers. Taking on the role of the quizmaster promotes self-assurance, pride, and responsibility.

microsoft forms technotrivia

The quiz can be shared using a variety of devices.

Microsoft Forms and TechnoTrivia

Get your students started right away in making their own wacky and informative quizzes. TechnoTrivia includes a Teacher Guide, Student Workbook, assessment tools, flashcards, handouts, and links to lots of sample quizzes.

STEM and Web Design for Kids

Why should you consider incorporating STEM and web design into curriculum? Do students really need to know how to build web pages? After all, how likely is it that they will choose jobs in computer science or careers requiring any these skills? What benefit is an understanding of web design if becoming a web designer is not a future goal?

STEM and web design

Learning how to create a web page has substantive value. Knowledge of website construction and the decisions that need to be made in its creation empower students. Following are some of the benefits to teaching STEM and web design.

Provides an Authentic Audience

When students make a website and publish it in the public domain, they are aware that not just their teacher or classmates will be viewing their results. Anyone in the world will be able to see it. They are motivated to provide the best quality of their work by having an unlimited number of actual, legitimate viewers. This is strong incentive for putting their best efforts into their creations.

Builds Digital Citizenship

In designing a web page, a student becomes a producer of information. With this power comes responsibility. The website should be a meaningful contribution to the World Wide Web. To achieve this goal students must apply Internet search strategies to link to trustworthy sources of information. They must also respect copyright laws in regards to the use of media. Moreover, they need to create content that is respectful of others. These activities promote digital citizenship as it requires them to behave appropriately when online.

Develops Media Awareness

Considering the perspective of the audience is a critical skill in web page design. In planning an online publication, students should first reflect on their target audience. Whether it is their peer group, younger kids, or the public in general, the website should be appropriate. Decisions about wording, types of graphics, and suitability of hyperlinks is affected by the type of viewer. A clear navigation system through the site, information blocked into organized headings, appealing images, and working and informative links all contribute to a site attractive to the consumer. Understanding what engages an online audience is essential.

Fosters STEM Career Skills

Very few students will become actual web page designers. However, a very large proportion of students will pursue careers related to technology skills. Whether they become online marketers, bloggers, programmers, software developers, scientists, systems analysts, or engineers, the future will favor young adults who have STEM skills. Building a website can spark an interest in pursuing other STEM areas.

stem and web design

Promotes Creative Arts

STEM has been amended to STEAM to include the value of the Arts. When publishing a web page, creative decisions need to be made: background themes, layout, image choice and type, text typeface and formatting, and overall page appearance. These choices are all important in keeping the viewer engaged. Eye catching and aesthetically appealing websites will attract and hold a viewer’s attention.

Encourages Collaboration

STEM and web design

Effective communication skills are an integral part of many STEM job skills postings. It’s a rare career that doesn’t require proficiency in working as a group. And website creation isn’t done in isolation. Before publication, a site should be submitted to peers for comments and constructive critique. The written or spoken teamwork between designer and testers is a key component in the development of a successful project.

TechnoSite to Teach STEM and Web Design Using Google Sites

STEM and web design

TechnoSite is a project in which students become web designers. Using Google Sites and following illustrated, step-by-step instructions, they construct a website that includes links to fun places for kids on the World Wide Web. Develop vital career skills by teaching STEM and web design. Learn more about TechnoSite and how you can purchase and download it today!

8 Coding Tips for Scratch Jr

In Scratch Jr, the Start On Bump block offers an opportunity to make fun action scenes. It also lays the foundation for teaching conditional logic, a cornerstone of computational thinking. Learn about how Start On Bump triggers animated sequences. Afterwards, refer to the helpful coding tips for Scratch Jr. This will allow you to support students when they need to troubleshoot their scripts.

What Is Bumping?

coding tips for scratch jr

Start On Bump is a triggering block that allows the programmer to sequence scripts that are activated when a character touches another character. It can cause a character to say something, grow or shrink, move, play a sound, speed up, or stop. One bump can even cause a chain reaction of succeeding bumps to happen.

Most scenes, stories, or games that students create require characters to interact. Start On Bump is a simple way to introduce cause and effect. It lays the groundwork for the logical thinking required in coding activities. Start On Bump is an ideal precursor to the more advanced programming blocks in Scratch, such as if-then, sensing blocks, and variables. It also provides a foundation for writing code in text-based programming languages such as Python.

coding tips

Sequence events in Scratch Jr using the coding block Start On Bump.

Random Bumping

A great way to introduce students to conditional logic is to create an animated scene that has random bumping. Games often have objects or characters respond when they contact one another. Using the Start On Bump coding block, a spaceship and an alien can be programmed to fly in two different, continuous action sequences. When they happen to touch by chance, the programmer can code the alien to disappear, change course, say something such as “Got me!”, make a sound, or another creative idea. Find this fun activity in TechnoTales, a coding project using Scratch Jr for primary and elementary grades. It’s the Session 4 Skill Review called Under Attack.

Intentional Bumping

The next step is to have characters bump in an purposeful way. Young programmers can use bumps to tell a story or have actions sequence in a timely, meaningful way. An object can move to another and only when it touches, does the resulting action occur. So a monster can walk to an apple and then eat it. Or in a fairy tale, a princess can ask for help and then run to a wizard who then moves to a dragon and, when he gets there, causes the dragon to fly away.

coding tips for Scratch Jr

Use the Start On Bump tool to cause a series of actions to occur.

Coding Tips for Scratch Jr Bumping

Triggering a script to run when characters bump can sometimes be difficult. If the characters do not touch, then no action will occur. Moreover, if the characters touch for too long, often an action will happen too many times.

If the characters do not bump, try these ideas:

  • Increase the number of steps in a script.
  • Increase the size of a character.
  • Change the position of a character on the stage.
  • Turn on the grid to accurately adjust the number of steps.

If the characters touch too long, try these ideas:

  • Always have the bumped character move one step to get away from the character that touched it. After that you can add different coding blocks.
  • Decrease the number of steps in a script.
  • Decrease the size of a character.
  • Change the position of a character on the stage.

TechnoTales is a new STEM project by TechnoKids Inc. It includes a Teacher Guide and Student Workbook with coding activities using Scratch Jr. Primary and elementary students in Grades 2-4 follow the illustrated, step-by-step instructions to create a modern fairy tale. They learn how to build scripts to animate the story action. Find these coding tips for Scratch Jr and more in this coding project!

Add a Video Using Google Sites

One sure way to make a website engaging for viewers is to add video content. When creating a page with Google Sites, you can almost seamlessly insert a video using YouTube. A huge and easily searchable website, YouTube is a great resource to find theme appropriate clips to share. Here are a few tips for inserting a video using Google Sites into a web page.

  1. Search YouTube FIRST
  2. video using google sites

    When creating a web page using Google Sites, under the Insert tab you’ll find the YouTube tool. You can click it to go directly to a window that allows you to enter keywords to search right in YouTube.

    But DON’T! The problem is that you’ll see lots of images of results but won’t be able to preview the actual videos.

    Instead, open a new tab in the browser and go to YouTube. THEN enter your keywords and browse through the results. When you find one, view the whole video to critically determine if it is what you’re looking for. Be sure not to post a video that you haven’t thoroughly previewed.

  3. Pick a Short Video
  4. With the proliferation of videos online, it takes a really compelling sample to hold the attention of your audience. Check the length of a video. Try to find a clip that is only a minute or two (or less!) long. Of course some topics require longer explanation, but be aware that your viewers may not watch the whole clip unless it is especially fascinating or unique.

    When you have found a video you like, copy the URL.

  5. NOW Search YouTube Using the URL
  6. Return to the browser tab that has your Google Sites web project. Now pick the YouTube tool under the Insert tab. In the dialog box that appears, instead of typing keywords, paste the URL you copied from YouTube.

    Paste the copied URL from YouTube into the search box

    Click Search. Your video will appear, click on it, and then click Select. That’s how easy it is to add a video using Google Sites.

  7. Format the Video
  8. You can now customize the clip:

    • Click Settings to choose:
      • how you want the controls to appear
      • the color of the progress bar
      • whether the viewer can see the video full screen in another browser tab or will watch it only on your web page
    • Drag the video to position it on the page.
    • Hover over the left side of the video to pick Section Background. Choose an option.

  9. Preview the Web Page
  10. Select the Preview tool and see what the video will look like when it’s published. Remember the nifty responsive design feature of Google Apps – click each of the three options: Phone, Tablet, or Large screen to view the layout on different devices. Now you can again preview the whole video clip if necessary.

    video using google sites

    Add a YouTube video to engage viewers in your website

    TechnoSite Web Design Project for Kids

    TechnoSite

    In TechnoSite students become web designers.

    All of these tips to add a video using Google Sites and much more are included in TechnoSite, a web design project designed specifically for teachers of elementary grades. Empower your students with STEM skills as they construct professional looking websites for any curriculum topic, area of interest, sport, or hobby. Everything you need is included: Teacher Guide, Student Workbook, Assessment Tools, Sample Websites, and more! Find out TechnoSite details, view samples, and see the project learning objectives here.