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.

Think Green, Teach Green – Earth Day 2020

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

technoearth icon

On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment. They brought awareness to the extinction of wildlife, destruction caused by pollution, and loss of wilderness. In 1990, Earth Day became a global event with 141 countries and 200 million people organizing to campaign for environmental issues. As its 50 year milestone approaches this year, the movement continues to challenge everyone to make a difference. The energy and enthusiasm of young people is a powerful force to drive change and impact our planet.

Teacher Resources for Earth Day

Earth Day Online

Earth Day is just one of the many online sites available to teachers and students. It includes ideas and resources to inspire and drive climate action:

Register an Earth Day Event

View events in your area by zooming in on the Earth Day site map. See the range of events in the world. Or place a dot on the Earth Day site map by registering your own event. It can be a clean-up, rally, teach-in, art fair, or your own idea!

Get Informed on Environmental Issues

Read about the range of areas in which Earth Day initiatives are working. Sign up as an Earth Day School to get on the map to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Commit to what your school will do in 2020.

Download Educational Resources

Browse through activities and lessons provided specifically for educators, for example:

And there’s lots more!

TechnoKids Earth Day Event

Only from April 2 until April 15, 2020 get TechnoEarth technology project at special promotional pricing.

Teach the whole curriculum unit to create an interactive infographic using Google Sites based on a specific environmental issue. Step-by-step instructions support middle school learners as they explain the cause, harmful effects, stakeholder interests, location data, and solutions to a local or international problem.

Combine Google Docs, Slides, Sites, Sheets, My Maps, and Drawings to produce a web-based publication. Integrate the unit into a digital literacy, science, or geography unit to mark Earth Day 2020. Download the project into your TechnoKids digital library here.

Fun Activities to Take Earth Day Action

Have less class time? Pick a single, quick lesson to inspire and raise awareness as Earth Day approaches on April 22. Here are some ideas.

TechnoKids’ technology project TechnoEarth teaches students to become environmental stewards. But you can pick and choose some lessons to teach in a single day or just a few computer classes.

Explore a Sample Infographic

To encourage Earth Day action, students can examine the sample Acid Rain infographic provided in the TechnoEarth resources. In Assignment 2, they learn about the features of an infographic and the reasons to use this format to inspire awareness. They answer questions about the contents and design of the sample. In just one brief lesson, spark an interest in environmental concerns.

Discover TechnoEarth Fact Sheets

Included in the TechnoEarth resources are 13 fact sheets on a range of environmental issues. These are provided to support learning. Environmental topics are complicated issues with scientific detail and complex vocabulary. The fact sheets are simpler, one-page outlines that may replace online research to save class time or to meet individual student needs. As an Earth Day lesson or to spark further interest, students analyze the fact sheets:

environmental education lessons
13 fact sheets are included in TechnoEarth resources
  • Acid rain
  • Clear cutting
  • Endangered species
  • Garbage
  • Invasive species
  • Mountaintop mining
  • Nuclear energy
  • Oil sands
  • Overfishing
  • Plastic pollution
  • Poaching
  • Water consumption

Create an Image Carousel of Harmful Effects

TechnoEarth includes optional lessons to challenge students. Session 2 Extension Activity lists instructions to make an image carousel in Google Sites. A series of photographs is selected to portray the harmful effects of an environmental problem. The pictures create a photo gallery through which the viewer can scroll. Research the images individually or have students collaborate in pairs or groups on a specific topic. The collection creates a compelling view of the problem in one stand-alone activity.

Inform with a Pictograph

Another quick, Earth Day lesson is Session 3 Extension Activity. Use the Big number slide layout in Google Slides to make an eye-catching pictograph. With iconic, universally recognized symbols, students create a visual that graphically depicts the numerical data of an environmental issue.

earth day data
Simple, universally recognizable images are used in infographics.

Pinpoint a Problem Location

Produce a thematic map about a particular environmental issue using Google My Maps. In Session 4, a map is created to highlight worst offenders, best stewards, disaster sites, at-risk regions, successful conservation projects, or legally protected areas.  A marker locates the place, the icon style of the marker is customized, and interesting facts and photos are selected and included. Publishing just the map can be an engaging way to communicate the scope of an issue.

Google My Maps
When the viewer clicks on an icon, facts and photos of the location are displayed.

Boost Search Strategies Using Environmental Issues

TechnoEarth Session 1 Skill Review gives students tips about how to find information fast. They learn explicit, effective search strategies. Then they apply their skills to search online and find results for specific environmental topics.

Students Are Spreading the Word

TechnoKids was recently contacted by a master’s student at San Diego State University. He has written a thorough and highly engaging article as a guide to vehicle recycling and is looking to share his work. Thank you, Carmen, and congratulations on your contribution to the environment.

TechnoEarth Technology Project and Activities

Whether you can allocate just one class or a complete unit of study to promote environmental awareness, TechnoEarth is an ideal resource for Earth Day celebrations. The half price promotion is only available April 2 – April 15, so act now and order here. Spark an interest in students to become environmental stewards!

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