Tag Archives: project based learning

Sound Libraries Continued, Two More Free Resources

In a previous article, I listed 8 great free sound resources that students can use to download fun and engaging sounds to add to their stories, presentations, or other digital creations. Fortunately, there are new sound libraries posted regularly and here’s a couple we found that are appropriate for educational use. If you have others to recommend, please let us know.

BBC Sound Effects

  • search by suggested category, then narrow the search by a specific term, e.g., Animals – lion
  • all 16 000 sound effects are in WAV format
  • sounds are available for download under terms of BBC copyright but may be used for personal, educational, or research purposes
  • clear and easy preview with description and sound duration listed

BigSoundBank

  • search feature includes alternate suggested search terms to help find suitable results
  • all sounds are free and royalty-free
  • sounds are in a variety of formats: MP3, WAV, AIFF, and more
  • limited library of hundreds of sounds, but if no fitting sounds are found, other external sound websites are suggested
  • also included is a thorough listing of additional sound and music websites
  • sections of the site are in the creator’s native language French, but the library of sounds are listed in English

free sound libraries

Project-Based Lessons for Technology Integration

TechnoKids has projects in which students add sound or music to engage their audience and add interest.

In TechnoCode, students use Scratch to build games, puzzles, mazes, animations, stories, and more. They write scripts to add sound blocks that play audio clips, make them repeat, and combine sound with other actions.

In TechnoInternet, students learn about responsible digital citizenship. As they practice Internet safety, they also explore online radio stations and music services, search for sound clips, and bookmark sound libraries.

Sound Libraries Caution Note

Some sound collections may contain sounds inappropriate for school use. Discuss digital citizenship responsibilities with students before using these resources to confirm their understanding of suitable content.

Differentiated Instruction and TechnoKids

differentiated instruction

Every time teachers step into their classrooms, they face the evidence of the need for differentiated instruction. Each student arrives at school at a different starting point: a certain attitude of readiness for learning, an individual style of acquiring knowledge, and a distinct level of mastery of concepts. Multiply these three factors by the number of students in the classroom. The resulting figure is daunting but makes it obvious that ‘one teaching method fits all’ isn’t a practical strategy.

Differentiated instruction recognizes and supports individual differences in learning by using a variety of teaching strategies. There are so many options and resources available today that we can adjust for the diverse abilities, needs, learning styles, and interests of our students. As teachers, our goal is to optimize student growth and success at all levels of ability, not simply to achieve or reach a standardized benchmark. Teach every student.

Brain based learning studies support a variety of instructional strategies. As students make connections between what they already know and their new learning, interconnections in neural pathways are formed. As a result, information is stored in multiple areas. Meaning and retention are both enhanced.

In teaching ICT, we have lots of ways of tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. TechnoKids project-based computer lessons support differentiated instruction with student resources, teaching strategies, and assessment tools.

Process

Differentiated instruction requires that we provide a variety of learning opportunities. Students should be able to build a repertoire of tools. They can accommodate their own preferred styles of learning, as well as recognize and build skills in their individual areas of weakness.

TechnoKids project-based learning supports the process of learning using differentiated instruction:

  • Vary learning tools. Integrate technology and use the computer as an alternative and additional tool.
  • Target different senses with multiple instructional strategies. TechnoKids Student Workbooks engage students by reading written instructions, studying illustrations that support text, looking at infographics, and handling manipulatives such as TechnoKids tool flashcards. Sample files have students listen to audio and watch video. Brain based learning studies show that most of us learn best when the kinesthetic senses are used – doing, handling, building. Robotics projects prepare students to build STEM skills and support hands-on learning. TechnoKids Teacher Guides provide teaching strategies, technology integration ideas, and assessment tools.
  • Chunk material into manageable parts. TechnoKids projects are divided into smaller sessions or assignments. In this way, a complex task becomes doable.
  • Present learning tasks in graphic organizers. When students create a plan of their ideas for a an inquiry, TechnoKids projects often have them use a chart, brain storming web, or mind map to outline and develop their proposals.
  • Repeat to reinforce. Students build skills through practice, so Skill Reviews and Extension Activities allow for repetition.
  • Allow students to work at different paces. By using the pdf or print copies of TechnoKids workbooks, individual students can complete the activities on their own timeline.
  • Mix up individual and group collaboration. Individual, pair, small group, and whole class activities should all be part of classroom experiences. Flexible grouping allows students with similar learning styles to work together.

Content

Recognize that students have different levels of familiarity with concepts before a lesson is taught. Differentiate activities by designing assignments that cover various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, from remembering (lowest level) to evaluating (highest level).

  • Give students the big picture. Most TechnoKids resource files include a number of samples of completed projects. Seeing and reviewing a finished project solution motivates students, builds interest, and provides a clear example of what is being assigned.
  • Provide a starting point. A number of TechnoKids projects, especially primary level projects, include templates. Students can focus on the technology and learning skills without getting bogged down in the less critical details of setting up a document.
  • Combine methods of instruction. Blend a mixture of teacher directed, print, video, and any other instructional techniques. This serves the purpose of both maintaining student engagement as well as appealing to diverse learning styles.

Product

The final creation or solution to an inquiry process should be interdisciplinary and open-ended. Allow students to build on their learning style strengths by offering choices. Self directed learning allows for students to work independently and develop critical skills such as organization, creativity, judgement, and persistence.

  • Build engagement by offering choices. Involve students by encouraging them to pitch their own ideas for projects. TechnoKids projects allow for creative thinking and open-ended learning experiences.
  • Offer a variety of outputs. When students are given options, they take more responsibility for their learning and become more engaged. TechnoKids projects may be a presentation, visual art, timeline, graphic story, newsletter, questionnaire, blog, interactive map, animation, and many more!
  • Provide opportunities for assorted types of assessment. TechnoKids grading tools include student, peer, and teacher checklists, rubrics, rating scales, marking sheets, and skill summaries.
  • Incorporate reflection. Summarize learning, process new learning, identify areas for improvement, and set goals. Many TechnoKids projects contain a reflection component in a final celebration of learning.

Computer Science and Technology Integration

Brain research tells us that learning really ‘sticks’ when activities are both meaningful to students as well as integrated in curriculum in an interdisciplinary approach. As well, students are motivated when they are actively discovering and investigating a problem.

computer science

Teach coding with Scratch to middle school and junior students to build computational thinking skills.

TechnoCode, the newest technology project developed by TechnoKids, was created specifically to spark an interest in computer science by engaging students. As they use Scratch to build programming skills, young learners construct a series of activities for kids. As game designers, they consider their users’ interests and abilities. They become authentic programmers who plan, code, and actually field test their unique creations.

The TechnoCode project is primarily a STEM project that teaches coding. However, the activities also integrate into other areas of curriculum including language arts, mathematics, social studies or science, visual arts, and music.

Computer Science

TechnoCode is an introduction to programming. The activities have students build algorithms that sequence commands, events, loops, and conditions. Use the project to target computer science learning outcomes. The project includes a detailed list of skills achieved in each Session, ideal as a teacher checklist for assessment.

Language Arts

The assignments in Session 1 and Session 4 can be integrated into curriculum as a language arts unit. In these assignments, students engage in visual storytelling. They create animated scenes and stories. To extend language arts learning outcomes, the concept of plot, setting, and characters is also applied when engineering games in Session 3 and 5.

Integrate coding into curriculum.

Integrate coding into curriculum.

Mathematics

Integrate TechnoCode into an existing problem-solving unit in Math class. The assignments are an ideal fit because coding requires mathematical and logical thinking. For example, placing sprites on the stage requires plotting ordered pairs, rotating objects involves knowledge of angles, and setting the size of sprites uses percentages. As well, logic is used to control when or if an action happens.

Social Studies or Science

Include The Session 4 Skill Review in TechnoCode as a creative way to showcase learning into another subject area. In this activity, students build an interactive diorama. It shows a scene from nature or a historical event that engages the viewer to click on objects to learn more. Complete the activity to have students share facts or create a simulation about a topic currently being studied. Samples provided include space exploration, tornado, and farming.

Visual Arts

Target visual arts learning outcomes with TechnoCode. Graphic design is interwoven throughout the activities. Students apply their creativity to paint or edit unique sprites and backdrops. They also apply their skills to engage the audience using visual elements. In addition, the Session 2 Extension Activity specifically has students draw artwork with a pen using code.

Music

Integrate TechnoCode into a music class. In the Session 3 Extension Activity, students invent an instrument. This activity is a fun way for students to express their musical talent.

programming

TechnoCode technology project teaches programming using graphical blocks.

Inspire your students to become coding ninjas with TechnoCode!

Add the A to STEM Education

Educators agree that STEM education is essential to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century workforce. The skills they learn in science, technology, engineering, and math subject areas also develop vital skills necessary for success: critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and collaboration. Although there’s quite a debate about whether the A for the arts needs to be added to STEM to make STEAM or if it’s already there inherently, it’s evident that fine arts, language, and music play a key component in a curriculum to prepare young people to face the complex challenges of the future.

steam career readiness

The Arts are a vital part of STEM education

Education Models for the Future

Traditional school curriculum segregates studies into separate subject areas. However, project-based learning is an instructional approach that blends subjects. Students are faced with an authentic, meaningful, real world challenge. And these are non-Googleable questions! Students investigate a problem and propose viable solutions in an interdisciplinary study. Technology is commonly used as a tool. Whatever skills are required to solve the problem – math, science, language arts – must be learned and mastered. Students need to be able to think innovatively, plan, create, and communicate the resulting project. Usually STEM subject areas are needed, and students build valuable job skills such as computational thinking, initiative, perseverance, and communication.

Where Do the Arts Appear?

To answer these ‘big’ project-based challenges, students need to integrate the arts. Creative thinking and design are a central part of innovation. Being able to imagine an outcome, visualize a product, or communicate an abstract idea requires artistic skills integrated with multiple STEM skills.

Here are a couple of examples of the arts integrated with STEM in the real world:

STEM Education requires the Arts

  • Product Design
    Designing an innovative product may require engineering, mathematical, and scientific problem solving. But it also needs an attractive appearance to make an emotional connection to consumers. These are artistic decisions.
  • Advertising
    When a new product is brought to the market, communication skills are essential. Advertisers excel in persuasive writing. In addition, the creation of new logos requires a knowledge of graphic design. The success of a venture often depends on artistic choices.
Arts and STEM education

Infuse the arts into STEM education.

The Arts in Computer Science

We’ve been working with Scratch recently to develop a STEM project, TechnoCode, that teaches coding skills. The students will learn programming skills as they make animations, games, or interactive stories.

Coding design decisions should be engaging so that the user who interacts with the finished product is intrigued and captivated. Also, artistic choices affect if the project is user friendly and fun to play. Some of the stylistic choices students need to make when programming include:

  • Drawing custom characters
  • Designing backgrounds
  • Adding sensory cues – motion, sound, visual – to build interest, express an idea, and hook the user
  • Creating “Game over” messages that encourage and entice the user to try again
  • Making scoring and timing decisions using aesthetic choices that appeal to players

The brainstorming, problem-solving, and decision making involved in programming demand innovation and ingenuity in design choices. To foster the trailblazers of tomorrow, STEM education needs to acknowledge and incorporate the arts.