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.

How to Make a Pictograph with Google Slides

Want to learn how to make a pictograph with Google Slides? Keep reading! This blog post explains how to use the drawing tools in Google Slides to transform a slide into a pictograph.

What is a Pictograph?

A pictograph is a graph that is made from pictures. Each image represents a value. It could be a fraction, ratio, percent, price, or other unit of measure.

Select a Key to Represent Each Value

The first thing you need to do when making a pictograph is decide upon the key you will use to represent the data. For example:

one body = ten million people
one piece of coral = one fifth
one fish = 10%

Make a Pictograph Using Google Slides

Follow the step-by-step instructions to learn how to make a pictograph using Google Slides. Be creative!
1.Open Google Slides.
2. Click the New Slide arrow. Select Main Point or Big Number.

pictograph
Pick Main Point or Big Number for the slide layout.

3. In the text boxes, type the fact. Format the text to make the number stand out.

Add fact to the Google Slide. Format the text to make the number stand out.

4. Insert an image to represent the value. It should be a simple clip art, symbol, or icon:

  • Click Insert Image.
  • Click Search the web. Type a search word.
  • Click on an icon you like. Click Insert.
  • Resize and move the icon.

5. Copy and paste the image to create a group:

  • Select the image.
  • Press CTRL + D on the keyboard, to duplicate the image.
  • Continue to duplicate, until there are enough images to represent the number.
pictograph

6. Select the images on the slide:

  • Place the first and last image where you want them on the slide.
  • Click and drag around the images to select them all.
how to make a pictograph
Place the first and last image where you want them on the slide.

7. Arrange and distribute the images:

  • From the Arrange menu, click Align.
  • Select Top, Middle, or Bottom.
  • From the Arrange menu, click Distribute. Select Horizontally.
Some images need to have their color changed to show the percentage.

8. Recolor some of the images to show a fraction, ratio, or percent.

  • Select the images to be a different color.
  • Click Format options.
  • Click the Recolor arrow. Pick a color.
recolor image
In this sample, the green figures represent 60%.

Crop An Image to Show Part of a Value

Your value might be 65 thousand people. What do you do? You will need to crop part of an image to remove a section.

  • Select the image to be cropped.
  • Click Crop image.
  • Drag a handle to remove part of the shape. The part outside the black crop lines will be trimmed away.
crop pictograph
  • Click Crop image again.
pictograph
Crop an image to show part of a value, such as 65% or 65 000 people.

Make One Image Look Like It is Two Colors

  • Select an image. Press CTRL + D on the keyboard to duplicate it.
  • Crop the pasted image.
  • Recolor the cropped image.
  • Drag it over top of another image, so that they look like one piece.
pictograph
Place the cropped image over top of another, so that they look like one piece.

Environmental Education Lessons for Grades 6-9

The instructions for how to make a pictograph are modified from the extension activity in the TechnoKids project, TechnoEarth. In the lesson students follow instructions to create a pictograph about an environment topic. It is a meaningful way to demonstrate learning.

Download How to Make a Pictograph Lesson

TechnoEarth and environmental education
TechnoEarth has environmental education lessons for Grades 6-9.

Are you interested in environmental education? In TechnoEarth, students design an interactive infographic to raise awareness for an environmental issue. Visit TechnoEarth to learn more details about this engaging technology unit that places students in the role of environmental stewards.

New! TechnoEarth and Environmental Education Lessons

At TechnoKids, we’re excited to announce our latest technology project with engaging environmental lessons, TechnoEarth. This unique curriculum unit transforms students into environmental stewards. They use Google Sites to design an interactive infographic. It raises awareness about an important issue of their choosing. Middle and high school students will find the environmental project highly engaging.

About the TechnnoEarth Curriculum Unit

Involve students in a learning experience that can make a real-world difference. The activities in TechnoEarth form a connection between human activity and the natural world. Incorporate the lessons as part of a digital literacy class, environmental education, science or geography unit, or Earth Day event.

TechnoEarth includes:

  • Teacher guide with 20 lessons
  • Student workbook and worksheets
  • 5 reviews and 3 skill reviews
  • 6 extension activities
  • Research outline template
  • Example infographics
  • Environmental Fact Sheets
  • Stakeholder slide deck
  • Icons and infographics slide deck
  • Checklists
  • Infographic rubric
  • Google flashcards and tool summaries
  • Parent letter and certificate of achievement

Blend Digital Literacy Skills With Environmental Education Lessons

Transform a traditional research assignment into a meaningful public awareness campaign.
The environmental education lessons in TechnoEarth guide students through designing an interactive infographic about an important issue. The step-by-step instructions explain how to use Google applications to produce the publication:

  • Organize environmental research using a Google Docs planner template
  • Create a rotating slide deck of interesting facts and stakeholders using Google Slides
  • Emphasize a main point using a Google Sheets score card
  • Pinpoint worst offenders or stewards on a customized map using Google My Maps
  • Illustrate solutions by making original icons in Google Drawings
  • Construct the infographic by arranging interactive content in Google Sites

Students build digital literacy skills by working with multiple Google applications to create the parts of the interactive infographic. Concurrently, they demonstrate their knowledge of the environmental topic. In this way science, social science, language arts, and/or geography learning objectives are integrated with ICT.

TechnoEarth by TechnoKids
Integrate TechnoEarth into a geography, science, or digital literacy class.

Design a Coding Unit for the Classroom

STEM learning objectives are being included in many school, district, and national curriculum standards. As a result, educators are challenged with creating engaging and challenging instructional materials to teach computer science skills. But most teachers don’t have a technology background, much less knowledge of programming. Here’s some help. Whether you’re using ScratchJr, Scratch, HTML and CSS, or Python and the Turtle Library, the activities will be similar. Following are some basic strategies to consider when you start to design a coding unit for the classroom.

Practice Sequencing Algorithms Offline

Design a coding unit to include offline exercises. This will develop computational thinking. A starting point for instruction is to build algorithms. An algortithm is a description of the program. It uses words and symbols to sequence the instructions.

The logical order of coded instructions is critical. To build this skill, instruct students to physically act out and order a list of directions in simple, everyday language first. For example, if a programmer had to write a program for the task of putting a piece of paper into the trash, it may have the steps:

design a coding unit

Have students act out the steps they listed to check them. Or, have a list of mixed up steps that students must unscramble to place them in the correct order.

Start Simple

When you design a coding unit, move from simple to more complex code slowly.

Don’t offer a complete set of instructions in code and have the students copy it and run it to see the result. This may intimidate young programmers and even make them think that coding is too difficult. Moreover, they won’t learn what each part of the code does.

Instead, write a few lines. Then test the result. The instant response will create a connection between the coding and its function.

coding for kids

In TechnoWhiz, primary students are introduced to ScratchJr by using one block at a time to move the character on the stage. They observe the resulting motion. Then they combine a series of blocks to create a script and see the effect. Next, they add more characters and move them, and learn to loop their actions. By the end of the project, they are able to make an interactive, one-of-a-kind racing game with a background, formatted text, and characters moving at different speeds, dancing, and talking!

Use Trial and Error

Invite students to experiment with values to figure out what works. Try a number or value. Does it need to be higher or lower? Test often to see what works.

Encourage exploration. For example, when using Python and the Turtle Library, circle(50) draws a circle with a specific size. Students can explore by changing the number to a higher value and a lower one. Or code left(90) to turn the turtle symbol. Then change the value to see what angles the turtle turns. The repeated experimentation will result in learning that can be applied in subsequent activities.

Teach Debugging

Don’t wait until mistakes are made. Early in the project, create errors with intention. Have students ‘break‘ the script, then fix it. As a result, they will recognize mistakes that may be made later in their own programming and be more likely to correct them independently.

design a coding unit

Apply Skills

Introduce a skill, repeat or review it, and then transfer it to another application using the program. Avoid teaching a concept in isolation. When students re-use skills in different contexts, they will accumulate their knowledge and be able to apply it in their own creative projects.

teaching coding to kids

For example, in TechnoTurtle students learn to use Python to control the movement of a turtle symbol. Then they apply their skills to write scripts to draw pictures and to move the turtle through a maze. In other parts of the project, they learn about variables. Then they use this concept to create Mad Libs and to produce an interactive carnival game.

Show Samples

Demonstrate how a completed project might look at the beginning of a lesson. This will serve multiple purposes: students will have a clear idea of what they’re making, they will be inspired to create their own unique version, and the sample can be a coding reference guide to use if trouble shooting is needed.

In TechnoHTML, a sample web page about skateboarding sparks student interest and demonstrates the skills they will learn using HTML and CSS:

design a coding unit

  • Formatting text
  • Adding images
  • Making lists
  • Linking to sites

Provide an Opportunity to Share

At the completion of the project, ensure that students have an authentic audience. This helps students to connect their work in the classroom to the real world and see a purpose for their efforts. Their peers are a perfect audience. Celebrate the finished projects and encourage interaction and feedback. The digital nature of programming projects makes it easier than ever to share work with classmates, family, and friends.

design a coding unit

For example, in TechnoCode, middle school students place their collection of completed animated scenes, stories, mazes, and games into an Activity Studio to share with others.

Then they invite feedback and recommendations for improvements.

Reflect on Learning

Finally, give students an opportunity to reflect on their experiences in learning to code. In either written form in a journal or as a class discussion, ask:

  1. What did you like about learning to program?
  2. Is there anything in your project that you would like to change?
  3. What do you wish you knew how to do?
  4. Have you learned anything about yourself?
  5. What advice would you give to a beginner programmer?

design a coding unit

In TechnoTales, students in grades 2 to 5 use five simple reflection responses to gain some insight into their learning.

The young programmers used Scratch to design a story with four scenes, multiple animated characters, a plot with a dilemma to solve, and a happy ending!

Design a Coding Unit

TechnoKids has elementary and middle school programming projects for Scratch Jr, Scratch, Python and the Turtle Library, and HTML. Before starting to design a coding unit of your own, try one! Visit the TechnoKids online store.

design a coding unit

TechnoKids has programming projects to teach ScratchJr, Scratch, Python, and HTML and CSS

Tips for Teaching Coding to Kids

Teaching coding to kids is more than just giving them lines of code to copy and then run. We want to empower students to become critical thinkers and innovative programmers. To build programming skills, beginners need to be provided with a variety of analytical and engaging experiences. To do that, we should spark their enthusiasm with a collection of activities that ensure success and an understanding of essential coding concepts. As they learn how to code original creations, students will become keen, competent programmers. They will have the foundational STEM skills for the workplace of the future.

tips for teaching coding

Here are some suggested types of activities to consider when teaching coding to kids.

Explore and Investigate

Teach code a line at a time. Then ask students to analyze and experiment with the code. Explore with different values and see the outcome. What happens with a higher or lower number? When the line of code is moved to a different place, what happens? What happens when a character is omitted? This strategy builds student insight into the meaning of the code so much better than just asking them to copy a given set of instructions and then running them.

Guess and Check

Provide completed code and ask your students to be detectives. By reading the lines of code, comments, or scanning for words they recognize, they can try to infer what the code will do. Then run the code and see if their guesses were accurate. This makes students keen observers and critical thinkers.

Use Templates to Jump Start Learning

Young programmers have the ability to understand the code, but don’t always have the keyboarding skills needed to type many lines of code accurately. When introducing specific coding concepts, consider giving the students templates with parts of the code already written. The students just add code to make the desired result.

Teach Debugging Early

Don’t wait until errors occur and students are frustrated with the inability to correct them. Near the beginning of the coding unit, have the students generate specific errors to break the code. Have them see the resulting problem. Then fix it. As a result, students will become familiar with common mistakes such as omitting characters, mistyping, or placing code in the wrong order. They will recognize errors and know how to correct them.

Provide Samples to Spark Inspiration

Before starting a new project, inspire students by showing them a completed sampler. The goal is to ignite their interest but not to provide a set of instructions for them to copy. The code becomes a guide for students. They can use it as a starting point or to compare their work for troubleshooting. The sampler becomes the foundation for students to produce their own original projects.

Offer Support References

Online programming reference lists and libraries are usually so complete and exhaustive that they are ominous for kids to use. Instead, build a list of basic commands that will be used in the project and have it handy for the class to use and check.

Present Opportunities for Extra Challenges

Differentiated learning studies have shown us that students build skills in a highly diverse way. When teaching coding to kids, they are certain to progress at different rates. Students who struggle need support, repetition, and review activities to grasp coding skills. Some students will ‘get’ the concepts quickly and be ready for new ways to apply and extend their learning. Be prepared for these young experts with optional challenges to keep them excited and involved.

Reflect on Learning

During, and definitely after the end of the project, provide an opportunity for students to think about their coding experience. Write a journal entry. Ask questions such as: What was your favorite part of the program? What was the hardest part of learning to program? Which skills would you like to learn next? What advice would you give to a person learning how to use this program?

Teaching Coding to Kids Using TechnoTurtle

teaching coding to kids

TechnoTurtle, a new project by TechnoKids Inc., is an introduction to Python coding for beginners. It is designed for elementary and middle school students to learn basic programming skills. The fun activities include building a maze, creating artwork and spirographs, and inventing interactive games. TechnoTurtle incorporates all the above strategies to inspire young programmers to acquire fundamental technology expertise.