My First Coding Experience

What is coding and why is it important?

In this post I will not be talking about Genetic Coding, I will be talking about my experience with computer science coding. According to the Oxford Dictionary, coding is the process of assigning a code to something for the purposes of classification or identification. Almost all of the things that we can do on our smartphones, computers, and even physical daily lives is because of coding.

This can be quite important for young children to learn as it:

  • Is another language for children to learn. It teaches them how to communicate with the computer and how to think logically
  • Fosters creative thinking
  • Enhances mathematical skills
  • Improves academic writing skills
  • Helps students be more confident in their problem-solving skills
  • Helps students build/develop resilience
  • Increases motivation in school
  • Encourages teamwork, collaboration, and mutual assistance
  • Improves self-esteem and sense of competence
  • Increases the ability to find information
  • Enhances reasoning, organization, and planning skills
  • And much more!

Here are some additional links if you are interested in learning more about coding:

What application did I use?

The application that I had the chance to play around with was called Code.org. This website is a nonprofit website that expands the access to computer science in schools. Their vision is that “every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra”.

Some other free coding websites that you can also try out are”

My process

For my first coding experience I had created a “Flappy Bird” game. To start off, I had to create an account. The account is free and you can specify if you are a teacher or a student on the site.

After creating my account, I was able to look around on the site and pick a project that had peaked my interest.

After selecting a project, an instructional video had popped up on my screen and had begun playing. It talked about what the website was, what coding was, and just some basic prior information that was needed before starting. The video was only about a minute and a half (1:33 to be exact) so it wasn’t painful to sit through. Once you finished the video, an “X” would pop up in the corner so you could leave the video and begin to code.

A guided tutorial had started before you could code on your own. Instead of calling it a tutorial, they called it puzzles. You had to complete all ten (10) of the puzzles before being allowed to begin your project. These puzzles gave you different scenarios and taught you how to use the application. I really appreciated having this guided tutorial as it showed me how exactly to create the game and without it I most definitely would not have been able to figure out how to create flappy bird.

This is one of the “puzzles” that I had to complete

The tutorials had also allowed you to play the game with the little coding you had done. This allowed you to see what each of the codes has done to your game which is awesome! You had to play the game on each “puzzle” before you were allowed to move onto the next step.

This is what it looked like when you complete a puzzle
A screen capture of what all my codes had looked like once I had finished the Guided Tutorial

Once all the puzzles had been completed, you could create your own game! By sliding the codes onto the screen I was able to create my very own flappy bird game. Check it out!

Final Thoughts

I had absolutely loved my first coding experience. At first I was completely nervous because I had no prior computer science skills, but after having watched and worked through the guided tutorials I had some confidence in myself.

Being able to create the game that I wanted was great! I created my own rules and was able to layout the game how I had wanted. In a typical flappy bird game, you lose the game when you hit an object or the ground. This was something I did not like in the original game, and I was able to adapt to that.

In my flappy bird game, you can hit an obstacle but it will bring you back down to zero points. The only way you can “die” on the game, is when you hit the ground. I had done this because whenever I had played the original game, I would become extremely frustrated with myself when I died. In my new game, I find myself getting less frustrated and I am able to enjoy myself more while playing the game. I had sent the link to my family and a couple of my friends and they had really enjoyed my game as well, which made me have more confidence in my coding skills.

After completing my first coding experience I know two (2) things:

  1. Coding is very beneficial to students and I will be incorporating this into my classroom as often as I can and
  2. I am now addicted to coding and will be creating more games soon!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Teaching Digital Literacy; Combatting Fake News

What is Fake News?

To put it quite simple, fake news is news that is fake. “Fake news is a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media or online social media” (Wikipedia).

How can you avoid it in general?

If you are on any online platform it is hard to avoid fake news, however, you can learn to recognize the signs and avoid the topic all together. Some tips for spotting a fake news story are:

  • “Would the website meet academic citation standards?
  • What is the domain name?
  • Who is the author?
  • Do you notice spelling errors, lots of all caps, or dramatic punctuation?
  • Is the story current or recycled?
  • How did you find the article?
  • Who is (or is not) quotes, and what do they say?
  • Is the information available on other sites?
  • Can you perform reverse searches for sources and images?
  • Have you visited a fact-checking website?” (Nagler).

You can also use some other forms of dealing with fake news such as:

  • “Know about and us[e] available web tools – There are multiple tools and sites that are available to help deal with false information. For instance, Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck.
  • Reading like a fact reader
  • Understanding and identifying biases
  • Nurture a critical disposition” (Couros and Hildebrandt 2018).

More tips for spotting fake news can be found here.

How might you teach elementary students about digital literacy?

At a young age, we are told something and we believe it. We can blame it on our traditions (like Santa with Christmas, or the Easter Bunny with Easter, or the Tooth Fairy), our imaginative minds, or whatever we want. Beginning to understand what is true or not is something that takes a lot of practice and to be able to teach somebody else about digital literacy means that you must be able to understand it and practice good digital literacy as well.

Often in elementary, students are not doing a lot of research until they reach the higher grades. Grade 4-8 will be the focus of this, as I believe that children younger then this do not do much research in the classroom as they mostly have the instructor provide the information.

Some ways to teach digital literacy to Grade 4-8 students are:

  • “Move beyond traditional information evaluation checklists
  • Prioritize helping students develop investigative techniques where they become familiar with information verification websites and tools
  • Teach students to identify bias
  • Bring real-world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom so that students can be challenged to apply their skills and techniques” (Couros and Hildebrandt, 2018).

Does it tie into the curriculum?

Teaching digital literacy absolutely fits into the curriculum, and it does so in a couple of places! Looking at the Saskatchewan Grade 5 curriculum in particular it connect to these outcomes:

  • CR5.2 View and evaluate, critically, visual and multimedia texts identifying the persuasive techniques including promises, flattery, and comparisons used to influence or persuade an audience
  • CR5.1 Examine the influence of pop culture on our own lives and societies, and investigate the work of selected pop culture artists
  • PA5.2 Explain the purposes and functions of governance structures in Canada, including First Nations systems and those patterned on the Westminster parliamentary system

The list could go on to include a lot of outcomes and this is because digital literacy can be taught any time students are conducting research. You want to teach them to find correct information on the internet and to be able to identify fake websites and information from the real ones. Using the goals of NCTE, instructors can learn “new approaches to rhetoric and composition [as] digital literacies are constantly evolving and influencing the process of reading, writing, research, and interpretation of data”. Students benefit from this greatly as they are “using digital tools, students demonstrate their comprehension and interpretation skills through presentation, blogs, reports, and discussion forums” (Fournel 2015). To be able to demonstrate their comprehension, they must conduct that research and have the skill to avoid fake news!

You Got The Magic In You!

This week I decided to share what I had learnt with you in a way that you all can take the time to learn it as well!

Smoothini’s upclose magic had inspired me to try to learn one of this famous tricks.

After a lot of practice, and the purchase of some equipment, I got the trick down-pat!

If you’re interested in learning, the PowerPoint I created is attached!

Can’t wait to see how your magic comes along and remember, you’ve got the magic in you!

Cheers!

America’s Got Talent; My Magic Inspiration

After searching the web for my next trick that I would be learning, I came across a street magician on America’s Got Talent named Smoothini. He performed unclose magic in front of the judges. Smoothini said that the key to unclose magic was perfection and that really stuck out to me. I have noticed this myself and I have come to terms that will more practice, I would be able to perfect these tricks some more. For that reason, I cam cutting down my magic from one trick a week to two. This will allow for perfection to occur and to have my final result look much better.

For these next two weeks, I will be looking at the magic trick with the disappearing salt. I had seen this one before and had remember it from my childhood which is why I chose the trick. Currently, I am watching videos to try and learn the hand techniques behind the trick and over the next two weeks I will be practicing and recording the trick.

See you next week with updates on my magic. Cheers!

My Experience With Cybersleuthing; A Personal Reflection On Digital Identity

I would like to start this blog post off by thanking Britney Savage for allowing me to cybersleuth her. Being cybersleuthed can be something that in the end is helpful for educators to do, as we are able to see if our presence on the internet is appropriate.

So What Is Cybersleuthing?

According to “yourdicftionary.com“, a cybersleuth is “a person who does any kind of detective work using the internet”. For example, when you search up an individuals name and look through all the information that comes up from this search, you are cybersleuthing.

My Experience With Cybersleuthing

I have cybersleuthed before and can say that I have some experience in doing this. In the case of this assignment, my search was very narrow and restricted when it came to looking up Britney. Some of her social media had popped up, but her digital identity was very hidden. When looking her up, I was brought to a page about a famous Brittney Savage. Although the spelling was different, Britney was able to be hidden by this internet famous Brittney that would override the search. I was able to find the basic things when searching for Britney. For example, her blog, twitter, and Facebook.

To tie all my findings and experience to this week, I thought about what Monica Lewinskyhad said about the price of public shaming. She had talked of public shaming as a blood sport and the contribution that social media plays on this shaming. After watching her TedTalk, I began to think about how the things that you post on the internet can damage your life. When cybersleuthing Britney, I noticed how safe her identity was on the internet. She is very hard to find and that would help her with the public shaming. Not only does her privacy keep away this public shaming but the things that she posts about as well. Britney has a positive and respectful voice when it comes to her social media posts. Together, these two aspects allow for her digital identity to be safe and appropriate.

This internet shaming that has consumed much of my own generation has its consequences. For the “shamee” and the “shamer” these consequences can be quite real and can sadly lead to a dark road. For some people, cyberbullying can be the cause of ending their lives. Depression is a mental health issue that has taken the lives of many people; Madison Holleran, Amanda Todd, and Kaleab Schmidt just to name a few.

Keeping your digital identity private and speaking out about when an issue is leaked on the internet is essential for staying safe on the internet. In closing, stay safe online everyone.

Why Is My Drink Floating??

For week 6 of my learning project I chose to do some more up-close magic tricks. My brother had actually sent me this trick so I decided to use it!

The video he had sent me was posted on Youtube by Howcast called The Floating Coffee Cup Trick. It seemed like an easier trick and I was able to figure it out without having to watch how it was done. Just like the previous weeks, I decided to film myself doing the trick and added it to my collection of video.

Being one of the easier magic tricks I had taught myself, this took only a couple of attempts before I had it looking well enough to present. Can you figure out this trick?

Hope you enjoyed the video. See you next week!

A Splice of Magical Moments

Splice Application Logo

I have decided that for the final portion of my learning project that I will hand in, it will be a video segment of all of the magic tricks that I have learnt thus far. The video will play through once quickly to show each trick and hopefully leave people in an “awe” type of moment. Then the video will start from the beginning of the magic trick again and be slowed down so they the viewers can see what has been done in the illusion. This will allow for viewers to watch the trick once but then also practice the trick so that they can learn it themselves. To do all this movie magic I need an app that will allow me to do so. 

What app did I choose? 

Splice is a movie making and video editing app that I was able to download from the app store on my iPhone. The app was rated 4.6 stars out of 5 from over 14 thousand ratings which was enough proof that the app was good enough for what I would be using it for. I had also chosen this app for my project because of how easy it is to share and save the video. The app itself allows you to share the video right from the application to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Email, Messages, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, Notes, WordPress, Google Drive, and it even allows you to AirDrop the clip to another device. Because it had all of these features and more, I chose Splice. 

How does it work?  

Once you open the Splice App on your device, it will take you to the main screen. If you have created some projects they would be saved on this screen, however, I have not therefore my screen is blank. To create the video for my magic trick this week, I had to record the trick on my camera. Once the videos were taken, you open Splice back up and tap on the big blue plus sign in the middle of your screen. It will automatically open up your camera roll (you may have to allow access for this to happen). With the camera roll open, you will tap on the videos and images that you would like in your video and then you will click on next on the top right hand side of the screen (it will only appear when you begin to tap on the pictures or videos).

From here you will create your video but first you must choose your “Project title” and the “Aspect ratio”. The app will choose the ratio for you based on the types of media that you upload but I have found that sometimes the images do not fit with the automated pick so you may have to change that, which is as simple as tapping on the other ratios to pick them. Once you have created your title and picked the ratio you will hit the create button on the top right hand side of your screen. Since I do not pay for the application, it will usually pop up with an “ad” asking me to pay for the app, however, there is an “x” on the top right hand of the screen which will take you through the app and allow you to create your video.

Now that you are into the editing portion of the app, you have free range over your video. You can add media, music, a title, text, voice over, and also SFX (which is sound effects). Once your video is perfect in your eyes, you will click on the arrow on the top right hand side. Another page will pop up where you can change the number of frames per second and the resolution of the video. When you have your frames and resolution figured out, you can save your video to the application or share it.

From playing around with this app, I have found that if you hit the share button and share it to whatever platform you would like, it will also save you video onto the apps homepage as well! Now that you have saved your video, it will always be on that homepage but it will also save to your camera roll.

How well did it work for my project?

I think that this application worked great for what I was doing. This week I did a coin magic trick and I was able to add in all my other videos that I have created so far! The application even allow me to add in the video twice and slow down the second one when I wanted to create the “how’d I do it?” aspect of my video. I found that this app was amazing and I would use it again for other projects for sure.

Cup and Ball Magic: The Classics

This week I learnt one of the classics in the magic world; the ball and cups magic trick. These object-centred magic tricks were the tricks that I had seen most of growing up. Since I grew up with these sorts of tricks, I thought it would be the perfect trick to add to my collection.

This Weeks Process:

Monday: I sat down at my computer and thought of some other forms of magic tricks that I could do until the end of the semester. I picked out all the tricks that I would have to do for the final project.

Tuesday: I watched the above Youtube video once through. I then grabbed the materials that I would need and followed along with the video. After that, I tried to do it on my own. I got stuck halfway through and had to watch the video again. I tried the trick once more on my own and couldn’t quite get it.

Wednesday: I tried the magic trick once more before heading off to school and forgot some parts of it.

Thursday: I watched the video again and ran through the magic trick five times more on my own.

Friday: I did not practice magic.

Saturday: I ran through the trick once on my own before showing it to my boyfriend. He had recognized the trick right away as he also grew up with it. I showed him the trick to which then lead to me having to teach him how to do it.

Sunday: I took a video of myself doing the trick and saved it, then I wrote about my progress.

This week, I felt, was a good week for my learning project. I was able to spend the right amount understanding the trick and I even had more time to practice it as well. I believe that since it was an easier/smaller trick to do, I was able to give it the time it deserved.

The Art of Card Magic

This week I decided to look into card magic. I looked through Youtube and found one that I hadn’t seen before to allow myself to learn something new within the project.

What are “Card Magic Tricks”?

Card Magic, also known as card manipulation, is a type of magical illusion that creates illusional effects using ever-so-slight techniques of hand movements involving playing cards. This form of magic usually happens close-up, and is usually a part of street magic.

My Learning Process

I felt as though learning a magic trick that involved a deck of cards was an easier trick that would make starting out a bit easier. However, as I go along with my magic tricks, I will try more advanced tricks. The trick that I chose to do was one put on youtube by MLT Magic Tricks. This trick involved finding the king of diamonds, however, you can ask a person to pick a card and be able to find that card within the deck. I had practiced this trick about ten (10) times before I went to my boyfriend to show him what I had learnt. Once I had performed the trick for him and saw his amusement, I knew that this was a trick that I could use for this assignment.

I practiced a few more times before recording the video that I would use to demonstrate my learning at the end of the semester. The video that I have submitted will be a collection of the magic tricks that I have learnt. I haven’t decided if the video will be more of a “how to” kind of video or if it will be one where you have to try and solve how the magic tricks were done. I am interested to hear your thoughts on what should be done!

I also came across this video the other day of a magic dragon on Americas Got Talent. His work is very entertaining to watch and he does card tricks so I thought this was a perfect video to share on this post! Everyone, meet Piff the Magic Dragon!