Tag Archives: technology skills

New! TechnoSite Web Design Lessons for Google Sites

It’s here! TechnoKids’ all-new project TechnoSite makes it simple for students to become creative and competent web designers.

TechnoSite

In this project, students use Google Sites to construct a professional looking, multi page website. Incorporating their own content, images, and links, they create a website that includes links to fun places for kids on the World Wide Web. Along the way, they learn how to become website critics, rate the quality and safety of popular sites, and develop essential search strategies.

It has never been easier to quickly create a custom website. With a free Google account, not only do students have access to Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps (and more!) but Google Sites as well. Use the templates, themes, and familiar tools to build fun and engaging web pages. Collaborate online with peers. Then publish and share information and ideas with classmates, a team, club, or interest group. Pick a topic and you’re ready to design!

What Can You Do with Google Sites?

Google Sites website

Design a multi-page website with TechnoSite and Google Sites.

TechnoSite gives students the building blocks of a website. Following illustrated, detailed instructions in the Student Workbook, they can use Google Sites to:

  • apply a theme to have a consistent, professional looking design
  • create a banner and pick a background image
  • use suggested layouts to arrange information
  • add text, images, dividers, hyperlinks, and hotspots
  • incorporate video
  • include a logo
  • design a photo gallery
  • insert an Image Carousel
  • position a navigation bar
  • and lots more!
Google Sites Preview

Google Sites preset themes and layouts allow students to quickly make a professional looking site. In this Preview mode, you can see what the site will look like on a wide screen, tablet, or phone.

What Will Students Learn Using TechnoSite?

Before beginning to build their website, students are introduced to the World Wide Web. They master internet terminology such as web browser and home page. They learn how to critique websites using standard criteria: navigation ease, appearance, content, and safety. Then a rating scale is applied to decide if the sites may earn their “Kid Stamp of Approval”. Students also become Super Searchers as they compare search engines, scan and filter results, and try different keyword phrases.

TechnoSite integrates a variety of learning skills as student build their websites. Following is a condensed selection from the Skill Summary included in the Assessment Tools in the project:

Digital Literacy

  • use appropriate keywords to locate information using search engines
  • determine whether a website is appropriate for children
  • collaborate with a peer to improve the quality of a website

Language Arts

  • organize research using a planner
  • describe a website to summarize the content and entice visitors to click on the link
  • reflect upon the web design process

Internet Skills

  • use keyword suggestions to locate resources on the Internet
  • scan search results to discern the website that is the best match
  • analyze the results of different search engines

Web Design Skills

  • customize design using a banner, theme, and images
  • insert text, images, dividers, and video
  • insert and test hyperlink and hotspots

What Is Included in TechnoSite?

When you purchase TechnoSite, everything teachers need to complete the project and teach students to build a website is included in the resources:

  1. Teacher Guide in pdf format for printing or viewing
  2. Student Workbook in pdf format for printing or viewing
  3. Assessment Tools: Student Checklists and Teacher Marking Sheet and Skill Summary
  4. Sample Websites using Google Sites
  5. Reviews, Skill Reviews, and Extension Activities to support learning

You’re ready. Order and download TechnoSite today and your students will become skilled web designers tomorrow!

Chromebook Users, HTML Coding, and Pictures

Chromebooks and HTML

TechnoKids has recently released a programming project written especially for Chromebook users. TechnoHTML5 has long been a fan favorite among teachers. It’s now been edited specifically for use with Chromebooks and Google Drive. Students create a web page using HTML and CSS, style text, add images, and insert links.

Using a web-based text editor to write HTML has some unique features. One of the things we really liked about using a Chromebook was the free text editor HTML Editey. On one screen that is divided into two side-by-side panes, the user can write code and simultaneously see a preview. The ability to see successful results and troubleshoot problems on the same screen is great! See our previous post that lists all the ways that this app can make Chromebook users into skilled web page developers.

Adding pictures to an HTML project on a Chromebook is unique, as you are using a web-based app. Instead of collecting images and saving them in a folder to upload with the HTML file, you have to link to existing images on the Internet. Here are some tips to make that job easier for your students.

chromebook users

First, Consider Copyright

As responsible digital citizens, students should be familiar with usage rights. Ensure that they know that they cannot simply link to any image they want.

Some pictures need to be purchased to use them. Those will often have a watermark, or a company name, printed on them covering part of the picture. Other pictures may have a note describing how they can be used while others are free with no limitations on use. These are often called royalty-free.

Copyrighted pictures posted online may have a copyright © symbol on the image with the date or name of the owner. This is a way of identifying who took the picture. If students want to use a copyrighted picture to complete school work, in most cases they can. However, the copyright symbol must not be removed.

Most search engines can filter images to quickly find those that you can use by license or usage rights. Before copying an image web address, have students check to make sure the picture may be used in school work.

Search for an Image

Narrow the search: When searching for pictures to use on a web page with a Chromebook, you may want to filter the search. In Google Images, click Tools. Change the size to Medium to avoid large file sizes. From Usage Rights, pick a choice that allows you to use the picture.

Look at the source: When previewing the image thumbnail, look at the source of the picture. If it is from Pixabay, you cannot link to the image.

Check the picture size: A typical web page is about 960 pixels wide. Use this as a guide when selecting images. Rest the cursor over an image thumbnail. The pixel size will show. Is it too large?

Test the Image

  1. Copy the image address:Chromebook and HTML

    • When you find a picture you want, click the thumbnail to see it in a preview window.
    • Right click on the image.
    • From the menu, choose Copy image address. TIP: To right click on a Chromebook, press the ALT key at the same time you click the mouse button or track pad.

  2. Test the image web address to make sure that it will work:

    • Open a new tab in the web browser.
    • Click inside the address bar.
    • Right click and select Paste or press CTRL + V. Press ENTER. Can you see the picture? If yes, you should be able to link to it. If not, find another image.

TIPS:
You may need to find a different picture if the web address…
• is very long.
• does not include the picture file type such as .jpg or .gif .
• has many symbols.

How to Add an Image Using a Web-Based Text Editor

  1. Place the cursor where you want to add the picture. Type:

    <img src=”” alt=”description”>
  2. Place the cursor between the pair of quotation marks and press CTRL + V or right click and pick Paste to add the image web address copied earlier:

    <img src=”http://www.website.com/picture.gif” alt=”description”>
  3. View the picture in the web page preview pane.

More Tips for Adding Images for Chromebook Users

Picture Dimensions:

It’s good practice to include the width and height of the picture in the img tag. The picture will display without this information. However, it is helpful to the web browser.
For example:

<img src=”http://www.website.com/picture.gif” alt=”description” width=”600″ height=”400″>

To discover the picture dimensions, insert the image into the web page, right click on the image and select Inspect.

chromebook users

Check picture dimensions.

If you want to resize the picture, change the figures in the code by a proportional amount, for example, divide both width and height by 2 to make the image smaller on the web page:

<img src=”http://www.website.com/picture.gif” alt=”description” width=”300″ height=”200″>

Add Breaks to Adjust Text:

One easy solution to change the placing of a picture and text is to add a number of breaks <br> before or after text. Or, divide a large paragraph into two smaller ones.

Wrap Text:

By default, pictures are inline and aligned to the left. You can change the float of an image to wrap text.

For example, make the image float to the left and the text wrap around it by adding the code:

<img style=”float: left;” src=”http://www.website.com/picture.gif” alt=”description”>

Create a Picture Class:

To apply different style options to pictures, you can create classes. If you add a style to the img element in the head of the web page document, all the pictures will look the same.

For example, you can create a class called .pictureright that can be applied to all the pictures that you would like to align to the right. You can apply settings to make a unique style. The code may look something like this:

.pictureright { float: right;
margin-right: 50px;
border-style: solid;
border-width: 5px;
border-color: orangered; }

Then, in the body of the document, add the .pictureright class to the code an existing image:

<img class=”pictureright” src=”http://www.website.com/picture.gif” alt=”chromebook users”>

Exclusively for Chromebook Users

Find these ideas and lots more in TechnHTML5 for Chromebooks. See samples and investigate the source code that constructed them. Create a unique web page using the Student Workbook in digital or printed format. Integrate programming into curriculum. Enhance STEM skills to make your students future-proof!

Teaching Ideas for Programming with TechnoCode

coding with Scratch

TechnoKids’ newest release is TechnoCode, a technology project that introduces coding with Scratch to elementary and middle school students. It is an ideal project for Grades 4 and up. Jam-packed with programming activities, TechnoCode sparks an interest in computer science. Step by step instructions explain how to build animations, stories, games, art, music, and simulations.

Empower students with real-world skills they can use in the workplace. The instructional materials in TechnoCode encourage students to think like programmers. Resources include sample videos to inspire imaginations, planning sheets with guiding questions to help design scripts, assessment tools to evaluate student work, and coding journal logs to reflect upon learning.

Ideas for Implementation

The TechnoCode project has students create animated scenes, construct mazes, broadcast stories, engineer games, design artwork, compose music, build a diorama, and more! The activities are suitable for any teaching situation. Select the option that works best for you and your students:

  • Coding Unit with Elementary Students: Assignments in Sessions 1-3 in TechnoCode are ideal for students new to Scratch. The activities are perfect for Grades 4 and up. Students design animations, create art, develop games, and compose music. The emphasis is on coding basics including how to build scripts, sequence commands, control action with if then conditions, and create simple loops. The activities focus upon directing movement, synchronizing sound, and understanding x and y coordinates.
  • Coding Unit with Middle School Students: Once students understand the fundamentals of coding in Sessions 1-3, they extend their learning in Sessions 4-6. The activities are ideal for students that understand the fundamentals and are ready for a challenge. The critical and computational thinking required is ideal for students in Grades 6-8. They produce a story, engineer a game, develop a treasure hunt, build a diorama, and remix a project. The emphasis is on having students manipulate the appearance of sprites, direct the timing of events with broadcasting, and create original artifacts using conditions, variables, and operators.
  • Scratch activities for kids.

    Build games using Scratch. Learn how to use variables to track the score.

  • Computer Science Course: TechnoCode has 25 assignments designed to ignite an interest in computer science. The focus is on thinking like a programmer. Each coding activity is divided into four parts – exploration, practice, freestyle, and reflection. Using a question and answer format, students discover the function of command blocks. Next, they follow guided instructions to build scripts. Afterwards, they apply their skills to complete open-ended challenges. Once a Scratch project is finished, students write a coding journal entry to reflect upon the experience.
  • Hour of Code: If you only have one class to teach coding there are many assignments in TechnoCode that can be used for this purpose. If your students are beginners, they can develop simple animations. Assignment 5 targets how to build a script, Assignment 6 explores directing movement, and Assignment 14 focuses upon changing the appearance of a sprite. If your students have existing knowledge of Scratch, the skill reviews in Sessions 2-5 are excellent challenges.
  • Coding Workshop Series: If you are running a workshop series as part of an after-school program or community event, then you will need to select assignments that fit the number of classes offered. As well, consider the age range and coding abilities of students.

Coding with Scratch is highly addictive and fun! Your students will develop a host of essential technology skills as they create unique games, interactive stories, animations, and more!

Coding Journals for Computer Science

coding journals

I’ve been having lots of fun learning to code with Scratch over the past month. It inspired me to write blogs about the benefits of teaching programming skills and computer science standards. But it also prompted me to ponder about teaching practices associated with coding. Many of the resources I researched suggested that students write coding journals or logbooks.

Some technology curriculum even incorporates learning journals as an essential component. A case in point is the Robotics unit of the Prince Edward Island Career and Technical Education Curriculum. Students write routine, specific journal entries and these are included in assessment.

Journal writing is a common task for primary students to build writing fluency. But journals can also be a powerful tool for learning programming, consolidating of coding skills, and self-reflection for young people in junior, middle school, and senior grades.

Guide Students to Reflect Upon Learning

Reflection can be difficult. Providing guiding questions can help students think about the coding experience. In TechnoCode, a STEM project by TechnoKids, coding journals log entries are part of the coding experience. Open-ended questions, rating scales, and checklists guide students to reflect upon their learning. It is valuable to include prompts about the design process, debugging, coding block usage, and attitude towards programming.

coding journals

Include guiding questions to help students reflect upon learning when using coding journals.

What to Use to Write a Coding Journal?

OneNote, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs are common tools with which students are familiar. The app used should be easily accessible for students at the beginning, during a coding class, or as an end of class activity. Anything that can generate a text file and can be kept open on the desktop will work. Students should be able to open the learning journal file as ideas come to them.

Why Write a Coding Journal?

There are many benefits to support writing a coding journal. In addition to the basic journal writing learning objectives of improving written communication, coding journals can:

  • Articulate ideas
    Students write about their creative plans, list coding steps, document their work, and/or set realistic goals. Rather than jumping right in and starting to write code, journals can be a tool to plan and organize animations, stories, or games.
  • Build coding skills
    When natural language is used to express the actions that are to be translated into coding language, understanding and retention is enhanced. As they write in their own voice, students build a firm foundation for coding terminology. Listing both the plain text and the programming algorithms can become a personal ‘how to’ dictionary to be referenced as needed.
  • Problem solve
    Debugging is a routine part of learning to code. When students are stuck, they can turn to a coding journal to figure out a solution. Writing about the problem forces the programmer to slow down their thinking and use self-talk to describe the issue and trouble shoot. Each part of the code needs to be checked in a logical manner. This process has been referred to as rubber ducking. The term came from a programmer who carried a rubber duck around with him. Whenever he had a problem, he would explain it to the duck. In listing the code line by line, he would often find the error and fix it. In this case, the journal becomes the rubber duck to which the author is ‘speaking’.
  • Reflect and track progress
    A programmer can write down all the attempts made to solve a problem in a journal. When the journal is reviewed afterwards, it represents a progress report of all the knowledge gained and growth achieved. This is authentic evidence of learning. Written communication of ideas can make a student become more thoughtful about their new skills. A journal can be a form of self-assessment.
  • Express feelings
    The process of coding frequently leads to challenges and trouble shooting. In a coding journal, students can be encouraged to reflect critically on their feelings, whether it is hope and enthusiasm for new projects or detailing frustrations with algorithms that don’t ‘work’. Writing about obstacles can defuse the feelings and modify perspective.
  • Promote collaboration
    Instead of private writing, coding journals can be composed using social media. Blog posts and tweets encourage commenting. As students help each other they build responsible digital citizenship skills while developing programming skills at the same time. Positive support from peers and input from teachers forms connections, fosters teamwork, and boosts confidence.

What to Write in a Coding Journal?

  1. Develop a learning plan
  2. Celebrate successes and new learning
  3. List problems, describe attempted solutions, and explain lessons learned
  4. Describe experiments tried to promote logical thinking and the scientific method
  5. Record creative ideas and inspirational thoughts to remember and tackle at another time
  6. Take notes of questions still unanswered
  7. Complete a self-assessment
  8. Respond to specific prompts, such as:
    • Write about something you still want to learn.
    • Outline a coding task that you found difficult.
    • Describe what you accomplished today.
    • How would you rate your final project?
    • What are your strengths in learning to code?

Next Steps to Coding Journals

Teachers who use coding journals make a convincing case for their value. There are still more issues to think about. Here are a few of them:

✓ Can the student share the journal with the teacher and/or peers?
✓ Should the teacher provide feedback to the thoughts in a student’s coding journal?
✓ Will the coding journal be part of the evaluation of the programming project?