New Year = Another Try

From: http://tech.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/AdobeStock_118847581-1024x400.jpeg

Happy 2017! – even though I’m three weeks late to the party…

Rewind to last year when I attempted to complete a “Blog Post a Day” and learned how challenging it was to come up with new content daily, but also stay relevant and timely.  After talking to a few people who read my post, I realized that often times they were as overwhelmed as I was.  It was a lot of information coming at them fast and not enough time to process.  I gathered mixed reviews on the separate topics vs “A Week With” series to explore something more in depth.

On a positive note, this work allowed me to start creating a collection of documents and writing that helped me in my everyday job and gave me resources to refer people to.

So, after the leap year that was 2016 I’ve grown a year +1 day older and wiser and decided to try the blog thing again, but with fewer expectations because then, like my students, I don’t always produce the greatest work.

My focus this year will be more on the helpful things I’ve learned in the past year, not just producing something everyday – but also sharing the helpful practices I’ve found that work for me, my students and other teachers.  So bring on the new year with a renewed focus!

Here goes nothing…again.

Brad

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June 6th – Khan Academy

In the spirit of HTML and online pacing, today we’ll check out one of the most popular online courses available – Khan Academy.

June 6th – Khan Academy

While Khan Academy is an extensive website with a lot of material – I’m writing because I was thinking about the HTML section coming off the W3Schools post yesterday.  In Khan Academy you can take a progressive course that has videos, activities, quizzes and projects to complete and show your knowledge of the topic.  The Intro to HTML has 10 segments (combination of lessons and activities) and then jumps into CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for 9 segments, then bounces back and forth introducing new skills.

The course is easy to follow and engaging – with activities that you can build the basics of what they are asking, or venture off on your own and create something really great.  It’s free to sign up so create an account and learn something!

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Oh wait!  Before I leave you I forgot to mention the most powerful thing – the teacher dashboard.  As a teacher I can create a class, assign Khan Academy assignments and see what the students are doing, how they are progressing and what they are struggling with.  Really great for those day when I had to be absent for conferences and family events.

June 5th – W3Schools

In your brief time as a Web Developer you’ll come across an awesome resource called W3Schools – bookmark it.  W3Schools has been embed into all my students heads as a great resource to look up when struggling or looking for inspiration.  A general Google search of HTML will get you here, but unlike some sites – this deserves to be at the top.

June 5th – W3Schools

W3Schools.com was something I stumbled upon years ago and it has withstood the test of time.  When I first logged on, it was a basic reference with a little guide, but now they’ve created a curriculum that students (young and old) can venture through and achieve a certificate for completion at the end.  W3Schools progresses from HTML to CSS to JavaScript and goes even higher into JSON, jQuery and server side PHP.

The website has a built in code editor that you can use for simple HTML and internal or embedded CSS.  Take a look and earn a certificate or two!

June 4th – CodePen

Back on March 11th I wrote about Thimble, a great product from Mozilla that you can include CSS and JavaScript files.  Recently I found out about another such product with a few added features – CodePen.

June 4th – CodePen

CodePen is a simple online editor that allows you to create HTML, CSS and JavaScript all on the same page.  CodePen comes with a few more options, in the example it shows you how to include SCSS – the use of variables in CSS, but really you just need to play with it to see if it suits your needs.

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In addition to the SCSS you can change the layout, see the individual html, css and js pages and a dozen other smart design things that help budding web designers.

CodePen is free to sign up (might need to scroll down the page to see the free option) so sign up, copy and paste some of your existing HTML pages in and see what CodePen can do for you!

May 31st – Myst

Well this has turned into a walk down memory lane.  Yesterday I spoke of Monkey Island, a LucasArts game developed in 1990 that taught me problem-solving and critical-thinking skills (also added to my sense of humor), today I bring you another classic computer game that brought similar skills without a lot of interaction – Myst.

May 31st – Myst

Myst was developed in 1993 and was as mysterious as the name.  You start on an island with clues to work together to figure something out, but what that is – you don’t know.  There are a few major objects, books, that lead to some clues but you are alone and trying to figure this out on your own.  Similar to Monkey Island, you can’t really die in the game (or at least it’s very difficult to), you just work through problems and come up with creative solutions to solve the mystery of the 2 young men and their father.

Similar to Monkey Island, this game is available for purchase through Cyan’s website (the games manufacturer) or on the App Store.  Happy Hunting!

May 30th – Monkey Island

Recently I was in a University class in which we were looking at all the different educational games available to today’s youth.  Some brought back fond memories and others I had no clue about, but yet others (perhaps younger) exclaimed in delight.  It brought me back to thinking about the games I played as a child and whether or not they were educational.

May 30th – Monkey Island

The Monkey Island series was developed by LucasArts as a simple interface game which followed Guybrush Threepwood as he sought out the skills to be a pirate.  The environment is completely open and you can interact with a lot of things, not everything but certainly more than at first look.  As you move through the game  you learn to combine items to make new ones, the art of sword fighting (which isn’t sword fighting at all) and uncover the plot of the ghost pirate LeChuck.

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While this game isn’t made for education – it taught me a lot more than I ever knew.  I learned problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in solving puzzles and problems of where to go next.  I learned about perserverance as the game didn’t direct me to any goal, and I could spend hours without going anywhere, but trying possible solutions, which also resulted in a case of grit.  

Today’s games, the popular ones, seem to be stuck on the one path to a goal style, and even the games where you can interact with your environment (Grand Theft Auto) you end up punching people and running them over.

The only place you can still find games like Monkey Island is on the Indie Game scene, they are educational without purposefully being so and that is a good thing.

There are lessons all around us, and even if we didn’t know it at the time, valuable lessons come to light down the road.  So I encourage you to look up Monkey Island and for $10 you can download, play and expand your thinking, from a game developed in 1990.

May 9th – Make:

As we are moving out of the post about Maker Culture (there will be at least one more tomorrow) we should talk about resources.  One major resource was mentioned in an earlier post, but I didn’t really go into it as much as I possibly should’ve.

May 9th – Make:

Make: is the organization for everything Makery and DYI right now.  There are other pockets, but this website is a great introduction to the Maker Movement with ideas, kits and general support.  Make: also runs the Maker Faire’s all across the country (one just finished in Bay Area and the next is June 18-20th in Washington DC) and is home to MakerShed which specializes in DYI projects.

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The Make: organization is also launching the National Week of Making starting June 17th through June 23rd which is sponsored by the White House.