Learn Code

I have started attending an elective class, with grade 7-9s, called  Design.Code.Play

It runs from September through til the end of January (first semester). Thus far I have attended three classes. We are learning / using SCRATCH. I am off to a slow start. It will get better. I am amazed at the speed with which the other students are learning this. A good few of them are not starters and the teacher, my colleague, wants them to help the others. So I am glad about that. And she encourages me to ask them for help. And I will.

And here is my first project, please see below.  btw: I needed the teacher, my colleague, to help me understand the embeding.  Ok, that spelling is embeDDing. New word for me. Double the consonant d. This I am comfortable with – English grammar and spelling.

So about the embedding: I needed to copy the project’s embed code while in Scratch, but once on my blog, I needed to click on html (leaving visual). Then paste in the embed code. Now I know. I had first tried several times on my own and it failed, so I asked for help.

Today’s design code play class is about designing (own) and playing (another’s) game.
So my design is below. The oval is an input command. The arrows join. The diamond holds a question. The rectangles have steps. So that is a start.
The game I played (a student showed me how) is on Scratch. Pong on Scratch (this particular one by Jack Fletcher). So it is basically ping pong. And I’d be better, I think, with a mouse other than my tablet mouse. I have successfully embedded it below, using html. Looks like anyone can play it here (?) Try clicking on the green flag.


btw: Another student, via Scratch, showed me a bit about Minecraft (videos that kids have added in  Scratch, I understood).  I had told him that I see the topic of Minecraft a lot on Twitter – educators convinced that Minecraft is a great platform for schools to use.  Minecraft Education

I explained to the above student that I would like to find out about games that allow student to learn about sustainable cities. He said SimCity is an appropriate game.  SimCity

I am paying Twitter attention to marketing of games that have some connection to cities and also to sustainable development. I have never actually played a video game, but I am keen to follow the market re. the above-mentioned topics. For example: ECO_new game


September 19

I have attended about ten elective classes for : Design.Code.Play 2016-2017 Semester 1

I am now significantly less ignorant about coding. However, I will bring this classroom attendance to a close, now, with my first game design document. I am the project developer. It is about linking SS content and ESL leraning.

A-L FLYNN, EAP SS7 teacher’s  Game  /  App Design Document: Game Design document

Again, back to the original title of this blog: Interdisciplinary Education….It would be so great if we had an easy way to have (video and board) games produced for our content classes, integrating, obviously, language skills. Surely, there is a way for these connections to happen, simply, with the right coders…..who are working with teachers, who are working with students…. I hope I can communicate with prof Scott Nicolson Prof Scott Nicolson who leads Laurier’s programme: U. of Laurier’s Games Design Development Programme



Gamification and Games-based learning


I heard from Melysa this week. She works for Classcraft and she wants to help me to gamify my classroom.    Mélysa at Classcraft < melysa@classcraft.com  http://www.classcraft.com/  Seems to be free.

It looks like fun. It seems to be about transforming the classroom atmosphere, making it become an adventure. I will learn about this.


And  other services (platforms?) that offer learning through gaming like  PaGamO.  I do believe that at in not-too-distant future this will be common. But it is not free. And it looks like it can be used to keep the old way of learning + regurgitating content,  but in sexy format that grabs attention.


A useful article re. Gamification vs. Games-based learning can be found here: clarification  (source:  Mr. JP Medved at Capterra)

And I thank Mr. Medved for this simple definition  ” The short answer: Gamification is turning the learning process as a whole into a game, while Games-Based Learning (GBL) is using a game as part of the learning process.”

I imagine Games-based learning will include this kind of ESL activity: Games and ESL (source: Futonge Kisito at eslgamesworld.com)

At a later date I will write about how we did some game-based learning last spring in EAP SS9 in connection to that vital topic: Did Caesar deserve to die (encouraging Ss to understand different points of view is always a useful exercise.) I hope that this video link works!   Student-made board game




Classroom 2.0 with Matt BERGMAN : Amazing Digital Projects for All Students with Google Tools

I write, it is 20 August, 2016. I am listening to a “Classroom 2.0” webinar. Source can be found here: http://live.classroom20.com/archive-and-resources

As I listen to this webinar, I take notes. Later, I can write a paragraph, if I want. Or simply record my voice as I make sense out of these notes.

So here are today’s notes, below. I am back here and i is 28 August. I have added hyperlinks. n.b. some notes / resources below are not from what Matt Bergman said, but are from posts that attendees kept adding (very collaborative!)


-70% of learners are visual (did I get that right?)

-images solidify learning

-images go into long-term memory (more sticky)

-SAMR type model for images search (yeah, so I am supposed to know what SAMR is, of course: what is SAMR model?)

-see Color, Usage rights…. need to know about copyright!

-teach tools to be able to use technology in respectful manner

-see Pixabay: pictures, video clips…  free images and videos

-copy + paste the citation provided in Pixabay to show source

-see FLICKERCC   flicker and creative commons  (btw: what IS Creative Commons?)

-ibid re. citation

-Google Maps Historical Imagery: Street view of Google maps. Historical imagery ex. 9/11

-Google Maps Photo Sphere:365 degree views!  about google historical maps 1   Richard Byrnes helps: Google historical imagery

-expeditions, museums…

-Ss need to have good photo-taking skills!

-What is SeeSaw  (student driven digital portfolios) Seesaw

-PechaKucha (talk about images)  simple presentation format

-Check out Google photos: make collage (great storytelling tool!), album, animation features  home for your photos

-see the craftycrow.net….. beginning photography for kids  children’s craft collective

-HaikuDeck   presentation software

-Check out Ken SHELTON re. Google + photos (I imagine this is the right fellow:)  Ken Shelton

-see Google drawings  Googlre drawings app via chrome

-see Eric Curts website – blog  great tutorials! Lovely templates to use!  controlachieve.com

-What is QuickTime ?  (looks like Apple)  Quick Time

-What is smore?  what is smore

-What is book creator? book creator  This is not free, looks like (I have since come across Ourboox  Ourboox  and prof. Mel Rosenberg, cofounder, is encouraging me to succeed

-collaborate on a book through Google slides  info Google slides

See John Butterill’s Virtual Photo Walks (in nature, provides images to people, ex. some people never get out due to mobility / health restrictions)  John Butterill

Well I sure enjoyed that listening. It was not so easy trying to listen while keep up with all the posts, the huge number of resources people kept adding…. 


SAM Labs Institute at ISB


August 2016

Rose and Ivelin from SAM Labs provided a successful two-day Institute at the International School of Brussels. I am happy to have had the opportunity to attend.

Aside, and relevant: Having spent only two days learning about SAM Labs last week, I just today had an amazing experience: I had accepted, for a neighbourhood friend’s son,  to read over one chapter of a University College London – Department of Computer Sciences –  MSc Information Security thesis,  “ A Privacy Enhancing Architecture for Secure Wearable Devices.” And you know what? The two days of exposure to talk about SAM Labs has given me a new sense of awareness about the language of computers that I did not have. So I read the thesis chapter I had committed to, with quite an element of (new) ease, in fact, and was able to focus on my objective: checking English usage.  I enjoyed it! I saw words that I knew I did not need to understand. Very nice.

Hey, a new word for us: new ease….. newease.   Contrary to  unease…..un  ease

Back to SAM Labs:

Rose encouraged us to apply some ideas to a curriculum unit we use. She provided these practical sections headings, to guide us: ACTIVITY, CONCEPT, VOCABULARY, APPLICATION AND CONSOLIDATION.

I chose to apply to:  Grade 7 SS CITIES unit. Prior to my unit choice, Rose had actually mentioned “Smart Cities” work as one of her past experiences with teaching and integrating SAMs.  I hope she comes back to ISB and works with our grade 7s one day!

As it turns out, using SAMs in a SMART CITIES context is about helping students and teachers to understand how all the apps already in play in many cities actually work, and providing students opportunities to explore new ideas: i.e How do they see themselves as  potentially able to solve problems cities are facing?

First, of course, they need to be aware of what “problems” exist. And it will help if they are aware that the word “problem” to one person, may not mean “problem” to another.

SMART CITIES and Integrating SAM Labs : Below are my notes taken during Institute  (N.B. These notes are OK, not great. But they make sense to me. And I will use them as thus when I show them to my students. And maybe someone will me help to find the line spacing command. Why does the text go weird when I use italics?) 

ACTIVITY -students design and build (ex. LEGO)  a smart city or smart neighbourhood

CONCEPT  -what is a smart city?

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – the city’s assets include, but are not limited to, local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants,water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_city

VOCABULARY    Smart homes  /  Smart streets  / Smart cities  /  Sustainable development /  Mobility  /  Waste management, recycling /  Air quality   /  Security  / etc.

1. Bins full  -alert authorities   –  Students make  props, such as bin  –  SAM: Proximity sensor inside lid   -when full=detected –  Output – light  Each light corresponding to a different bin

Detect fire in bin  -temperature sensor   – Same light above can be used, different color for bin, different colour for fire (heat)

2. Bike parking = how do all the apps work?    Bicycle rental availability    Brussels = “VillO”  VillO bikes to rent in Brussels

Not VillO:  -this does not exist at this time: where you can park safely, current availability – also, you consult an app  Students make parking units and bikes  –  Pressure sensor  -more weight or not  -more weight = not available  -or less weight = available   –  -when busy, i.e. bike parking spot available or not = light goes on, and email goes to system that integrates into the app.

SAM: -sensor, a comparator (values) greater than less than (less weight = available spot), or greater than = spot is taken, a light flashes etc.

3.  Cars   -Dissuasive Parking availability at city entrance zones  -GPS – shuttle bus availability, location, timing….

Students in their city plan have roadways, cars coming in, shuttle busses heading out of city center to city entrance parking lots, some bus stops

Driver coming in from  Namur, will decide whether or not to stop and use dissuasive parking lot

Bus has  SAM light in a door, door opens, light flashes sensor at the bus stops that are a five minute drive and that is 8 minute drive from the parking lot. Sensor recognised the light flash, sends an email to system. The system feeds the app.

4. Additional ideas, possible with SAM:

Public Security :  Mob action = need to alert authorities of this rapid sudden movement of crowd  -measuring footfall – pressure sensors

-and various security-related possibilities….

Smart homes and streets   -light sensors  -homes- heat sensors, turn on fans, AC, etc.


NOT APPLICABLE re SAMS, but good to bring up with kids…..

But how to move forward with these concepts???  What will students think of?

Air quality


-show along routs intensity as cars penetrate -ex. have lights flashing =less at city entrances, increasingly more intense….. Etc.

Correct recycling

-if correct waste goes in bin, sensor reacts positively

-if incorrect waste goes in bin, IFTTT (if this then that) sensor responds negatively + Instagram sent with info re. how to recycle


On a personal note…. I had acquired a SAM lab “Pro” kit recently (2nd generation). Purchased at a fund-raiser for school. I happily popped it in the mail this week. It is gone to Ottawa, to a 21-year-old student, Geemakun. He’s a (Cree) First Nations citizen from Moosonee, Ontario and is studying Mobile Applications at Algonquin College. I hope Geemakun will have a lot of fun with the kit. Rose and Ivelin from SAM Labs are informed and Rose said for sure that they’d love to hear from Geemakun.  I hope something happens. Geemakun is a strong believer that Canada’s First Nations children would benefit from more  computer science education, and in particular coding. I gather this means that First Nations populations in Canada, on the whole, are not on the stronger side of the digital divide. From the little I know about the future, I do realise that the gap will get greater and those on the weaker side stand to plunge. This is frightening. 

I have never been too tech savvy but I have been wide-eyed aware for a long time that the “tech privileged” have a moral obligation to contribute to the less tech privileged populations and geographic areas. This might be a good (blog) time to share a professional experience connected to technology and lessening the digital divide. The International School of Brussels was one of four partners  involved with The Kinshasa Technology Project (2003-2007) , also known as Projet Limete, and as Projet Limete-Université Cardinal Malula.

Along with Mr. Anastase NZEZA BILAKILA, I was co-founder of the original project. The idea was conceived at my neighbours’ house in the Ixelles commune of Brussels, where Mr. Nzeza was staying during a sabbatical leave from Université Cardinal Malula, in the fall of 2002. It is a long, successful story, but the video, dated 2005, sums it up rather nicely in 5 minutes (credits to MJ Farris):

5-minute video on The Kinshasa Technology Project  (detailed hard copy archives available at the commune of Watermael-Boistfort)


Determining Website Credibility and also info on Open Source images

Thank you to Global Digital Citizen team!

This is a great source to help with teaching students about  effectively  using web resources. The word effectively, for me, means ethically too. They go together (effective + ethical).

We teachers really, really have a moral / professional responsibility to ensure time is provided for students to learn the skills needed for 21st-Century research and reporting.

Global Digital Citizen source from Twitter

rubric website credibility

Go further, see the presentation  This is easybib.com  THIS LOOKS GREAT!!

BIBLIOGRAPHY WORK: fyi, where I work, we use Noodle Tools (annual subscription). I will surely return to this post at a later date!

ALSO, from the same group: highly useful information about Open source images  Open source images_Global Digital Citizen


How to proceed in order to enter a comfort zone re. the terms 21st-Century Learning, or 21st-Century Classroom?

Read about it, perhaps. Here are a few reference documents.

But first, I add here my Twitter feed: My Twitter feed  I keep thinking I am going to go back and review, take notes, research, follow up re. my twitter feed, but in fact, I keep adding to the feed. It is good though, I think. All good.

1. Technology in the 21st-century Classroom: Ontario Public School Board Association discussion paper   http://www.opsba.org/files/WhatIf.pdf

This looks like a good starting point. For anyone. I have not yet read it.

(And now, 29 August, Tim Robinson -Ontario – added a tweet + source so relevant: Ont. Ministry of Ed. 21st century competencies

2.The 21st-Century Classroom, by Gabriel RSHAID

In got this book from my boss’ office, have read it, and am now pasting the link to my Evernote notes that I made this summer:    http://www.evernote.com/l/AbqwR2DhLZpG54TU0X4bnlweT-IcVnC89aQ/ 

I plan to make a summary document of the above notes. I’ll share with colleagues and ?  I’ll also show students so they see I am serious about note-taking and summary writing skills (and moving forward with 1st-century skills!)

3.  OPEN  How we’ll work, live and learn in the future by David Price.

I read it this summer but have not taken notes. Also got from my boss’ office.

4. Reinventing Writing The 9 tools that are changing writing, teaching, and learning forever, by Vicki Davis

I bought this myself and have been reading this throughout the summer. Very practical. I can keep up pretty good, but it frequently jumps ahead of me and I have a hard time following, but this only confirms I am behind.

I follow Vicki Davis. She seems very kind, generous and concerned.

Today is 28 August and I am back on htis post form a couple weeks ago. And look, here, just this week she shared this pdf handout -she really is a great gal  179-Fantastic-Tools-forSchools-Handout

5. A Teacher’s Guide to Tech 2016, by Jennifer Gonzalez

This is a digital binder. I asked, and our library ordered it and several copies were made available to colleagues I work closely with. I have not yet looked at it, but still have some time before summer’s end. I follow Jennifer Gonzalez too (A Cult of Pedagogy). I imagine I will be able to highlight, make notes. I hope so. Like Vicki Davis’ book, this is a practical resource. I cannot add it here as although digital, and i think I cna actually just upload it now, it was  not free, so I won’t.  you can buy it

6. Gamify Your Classroom, A Field Guide To Game-Based learning, by Matthew Farber   book ordering details

Today is 28 August and this book just arrived a few days ago bit i have not had  a chance to look at it. It was ordered via Amazon and belongs to me. I want to know about gamification, to gamify… Here’s a couple useful clarifications:

gamification vs game-based learning

playability vs. gamification

7. And one gets winfalls. This slide presentation is amazing. 4 teachers have shared it.  Free for the using. Grade 7 Social Studies teachers. Chromebooks, Technology, and Interdisciplinary Practices in the Social Studies Classroom  These generous teachers are from  Farnsworth Middle School (NY)  THANK YOU!