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Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 Key Questions That Can Change the World

My most recent 4th grade Internet Safety lesson on "scams and schemes," which was primarily about email and IM spam, and today's 5th Grade Internet Safety lesson called "Selling Stereotypes" reminded me of an article I read years ago about media literacy and the five key questions that we should be teaching our students to ask themselves any time they interact with media- whether it be a newspaper or magazine article, a textbook or another book, a print ad, a movie, a TV show or commercial, or a music video.  The "Five Key Questions that can change the World," as the Center for Media Literacy calls them, are as follows:
  1. Who created this message?
  2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
  3. How might different people understand this message differently than me?
  4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
  5. Why is this message being sent?
The above questions align with the following core concepts of media literacy:
  1. All messages are "constructed."
  2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
  3. Different people experience the same media message differently.
  4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
  5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Teaching our students these questions and concepts encourages them to look at media content and the choices that were made in constructing it; the format of media and the way it is constructed; the idea that our differences can influence the way we interpret media; the subtle messages included in media that depict values, attitudes, and points of view; and the purpose of or motive behind media "beyond the basic content motives of informing, persuading, or entertaining."  Viewing the media from this perspective with a more critical eye gives students the opportunity to explore it on a deeper level.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The "Hour of Code" at the Lower School: Programming in the Classroom

In honor of Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15, 2013), the website launched the "Hour of Code" program with the idea that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn code.  There are several opportunities for our Lower School students to program:

Kindergarten used the BeeBot, a programmable robot, in literacy in January.

In December, 2nd graders completed the first hour of code on the website.  In January and February they did also used the LightBob app and the BeeBot app.  After March break they plan to create math word problems in MIT's Scratch programming environment.

During several technology classes this winter, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders also used the website, creating online accounts so they could continue their progress at home if desired.  4th graders have been learning Scratch as well and are now learning how to use Scratch with the LEGO WeDO kits' sensors and motors.

5th graders will spend their spring trimester in the technology lab learning how to program in LOGO, an educational programming language (in fact, the first programming language for children) originally designed in 1967.

6th graders have been spending a lot of their time in the technology lab exploring the new online Scratch 2.0 programming environment.  They are currently working on programming challenges from the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide, a design-based introduction to computational thinking.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

tinkering with teachers

Yesterday I attended a MEMSET (Massachusetts Elementary and Middle School Educational Technologists) meeting at the Kingsley Montessori School in downtown Boston for two hours of "tinkering" along with other BB&N educators Jennifer Levenberg, Carol Fine, and Svetlana Grinshpan and my daughter Hannah.  We all used conductive copper foil tape to make a simple circuit with a battery holder which lit an LED following a video tutorial by Jie Qi from the High-Low Tech MIT Media Lab using a template.  We also discussed the possibility of arduino in the classroom by exploring the SparkFun inventors kit with a peer from the Pike School and looked at Makey-Makeys and how they interact with the Scratch programming environment with educators from the Chestnut Hill School.  If you are interested in exploring tinkering in the classroom, BB&N has Makey-Makeys, pico boards, arduino kits, and raspberry pis to play with.  We also have several books in our library if you would like to read up on engineering and programming.  Below are a few of our titles:

Talk to an ATS if you are interested!