## The Importance of Mental Health: Remembering Amy Winehouse

When Back to Black landed 10 years ago today (October 27, 2006), some dismissed Winehouse as little more than a novelty. Here was a tatted-up, boozed-out Brit bringing hip-hop vernacular into vintage American R&B. Even her name — conveniently abbreviated to “Wino” by the U.K. press — made her appear a cartoon character, a switchblade […]

## So long, Vine

Well, there you have it. Once toted as a ‘game changer’ for education, it is time to say goodbye to Vine. Here are a few “best ever” in the kids category according to someone other than me. TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+LinkedinemailReddit

## Coding an Unfair Coin Simulator With MicroBit

In this activity we will code an unfair coin to demonstrate probability with the MicroBit. It was announced this morning that MicroBit is launching an educational foundation and educators across the globe will be able to get their hands on this gadget. As such, we will build a quick app to demonstrate an unfair coin. […]

## Coding an App: Perfect Squares and Square Roots

In this activity we will build an app that 1) generates the first 10 perfect squares and 2) prompts the user to determine the square root of one of them, chosen at random. To begin, create a variable. I have named mine counter. Set counter to 1 to begin and setup the loop structure as […]

## Coding an Interactive Map of Canada

In this activity we are going to code an interactive map of Canada.   Thanks to Ryan Smith (@ryan_psmith) for the lesson plan.   This. Totally This. https://t.co/bDapD4WPxM — Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) October 16, 2016 The Scratch app will detect what colour your mouse cursor is hovering and reveal the appropriate Province or Territory. In […]

## Coding the Pythagorean Theorem #CodeBreaker

In this activity we will build an app that determines the hypotenuse when given side lengths of a right angle triangle. Check out the activity below: For more lessons, activities and ideas, grab a copy of my book, Code Breaker, on Amazon here! TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+LinkedinemailReddit

## Maker is a Culture, Not a Space

Makerspace is a growing trend in education that requires aligned pedagogical beliefs and philosophies, but unfortunately gets implemented without much foundation, research or understanding of constructivism. Maker culture leans heavily on the idea of constructivism – that is, the notion that learning is best done through doing. “I am convinced that the best learning takes […]

## #HackLearning – Tabletop Arcade Project #STEM

In this activity we are going to mod a Ms. Pac Man TV game, iCade, batteries and wire to make a tabletop arcade. Materials: Ms. Pac Man Plug N Play TV Game iCade Speaker Wire Speaker Paint 5″ LCD Monitor To begin, I had to disassemble the Pac Man toy. I was careful not to […]

## Coding a Simulator: Particle Theory & Heat

In this activity we are coding a particle theory simulator using Geometry that shows how particles speed up when heated. Source: http://static.nsta.org/files/ss1403_10.pdf Big Ideas: Computational Thinking (Debugging, Logical Reasoning, Spatial Sense) Geometry (Location & Movement) Science (Viscosity, Flow Rate, Particle Theory)   TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+LinkedinemailReddit

## Technology Gives All Kids a Fair Chance

Sigh. Last week someone very near and dear to me reached out for some advice. Her son has just begun High School and is adjusting to the new workload. He hadn’t experienced much with regards to homework in elementary school so this was a bit of a shift, among everything else. The homework assignment he […]

## Coding Random Letter Games With Scratch

In this challenge we are going to create a Stopwatch (Countdown timer) and Random Letter Generator using Scratch. Big Ideas: Computational Thinking (logical reasoning, debugging) Mathematical Thinking (greater than, less than, integers, random) Literacy (consonants and vowels, parts of speech, rhyming, patterns of speech) Activity: You might wish to do this activity as a class and […]

## Coding: Developing Rigorous Thinkers

I may have caused some tension on Saturday when I sent this tweet. In no way was I suggesting we shouldn’t teach writing (or any other subject). Teaching kids to code means to make them think and solve problems through risk taking and trial & error. #FCLedu pic.twitter.com/FlJzLM6dAw — Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) September 17, 2016 […]

## Coding & Inquiry – Determining Integer Operation Rules Through Observation

In this challenge, students can code an app to determine the rules for addition, subtraction, multiplication or division of two integers. Classroom application: For more lessons, activities and ideas, grab a copy of my book, Code Breaker, on Amazon here! After building this Scratch app, have students run through a set of different numbers and […]

## Physical Literacy & Math: Coding the Beep Test

In this challenge we are going to write code to simulate the Beep Test training program using Button A as input to trigger the application. Big Ideas: Computational Thinking (logical reasoning, patterning, debugging, analyzing) Number Sense (Intervals, Data Ranges) Physical Education (Running, Sprinting, Interval Training)   The multi-stage fitness test, also known as the beep test is a […]

## Coding a Story: Probability & Quick Write Prompts

In this challenge we are going to code three Micro:Bits to display 1) Characters, 2) The setting and 3) The problem. As an added bonus, students would code each Micro:Bit to randomly choose one criteria from a set list. Big Ideas: Writing a narrative story Computational Thinking (design thinking, logical reasoning, debugging, conditional statements) Probability […]

## Physical Literacy & Coding – MicroBit Step Counter

In this challenge we are going to code the MicroBit to track steps.   Using the OnShake command, the Micro:Bit can detect movement. First you will want to create a variable. I called my “steps”. You’ll see from the screenshot below that I increment “steps” by one every time the device detects movement. I also use […]

## Geometry and STEM – Catch the Coins Game

In this challenge we are going to code a game in which players must catch coins on the Micro:Bit. Big Ideas: Geometry – Location & Movement Computational Thinking (breaking down problems) Conditional Statements Block coding We will use the accelerometer as input to move the LED light patterns. To begin, we will create a sprite […]

## Coding a BeatBox with Micro:Bit #CodeBreaker

In this challenge we are going to code a simple script that plays sounds based on inputs to the Micro:Bit.     Our sounds will be triggered by the Pins and input buttons A and B. We will display different LED light patterns corresponding to each input to give an equalizer feel. We will use […]

## Micro:Bit – Coding Word Games #CodeBreaker

In this challenge we are going to create a Stopwatch (Countdown timer) and Random Letter Generator using the micro:bit.   Our program will use input button A and the LEDs as an output: Button A will trigger a random letter Button A on the timer will start the countdown   Step by Step Solution Watch […]

## Creating Simulations: Coin Flipping With Micro:Bit #CodeBreaker

Task: In this activity, students will create a working coin flipping simulator using the Micro:Bit (or online simulation). Learning Goals: • Compare experimental probabilities with the theoretical probability of an outcome involving independent events. • Create simple algorithms that reflect computational thinking • Create visual representations of problems and data • Explore visual programming For […]

## Swirlly – Online Spirograph

As part of the requirements for my latest MPed course, I created swirlly for students to inquire about changing variables and drawing circles. The goal of this course was to explore STEAM – more specifically how to engage kids in arts and mathematics. As a grade 8 math teacher, I thought the spirograph would be […]

## STEAM: Creating Strong Intellectual Skills

In the article “Why the Arts Make Sense in Education” Linda Nathan makes claim that “our young people need to be immersed in artistic experiences (and) they must also develop strong intellectual skills” (p.178) which sounds very similar to Papert’s Mathland when describing LOGO in Mindstorms. “The Turtle World was a microworld, a ‘place,’ a […]

## Minecraft: Spatial Sense, Structures & Growing Patterns

Last Saturday marked the 2nd TEDxKitchenerED at the Centre for International Governance Innovation downtown. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to share the stage with some very amazing folks from across Ontario. Check out the speaker line-up here. During intermission, I had an interesting conversation with Jamie Weir, Will Gourley and Dina […]

## The Myth of Average

The notion of “wide walls”,  “low floor – high ceiling”, “multiple entry points”, and “personalized learning” have me in a bit of a tiff this morning. Yup, a TIFF. All great ideas and proven to provide confidence in learners when all can be successful but how can we truly provide multiple entry points, “rich” […]

## Have You Ever Flown Bearskin Airlines?

Recently I had the opportunity to visit some very northern parts of our beautiful Province. Full disclosure, I consider Sudbury to be quite north and it isn’t even half way to Sioux Lookout, so I was slightly apprehensive about this trek. I experienced the wonderful Bearkin Airlines and met some very friendly people who could […]

## Coding Rock, Paper, Scissors to Teach Probability

This application will randomly select Rock, Paper or Scissors for two players and determine the winner. Check out the source code and give it a try for yourself! Project Page: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/102855970/ Source: Demo:   TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+LinkedinemailReddit

## Coding Can Help With “Math War”

I just finished reading ‘Math war’ more about words than numbers, says Peel teacher. This Peel teacher just happens to be my good buddy Jonathan So and he will give a keynote on the issue April 2 at an annual Peel conference. In the article Jonathan pushes to make kids doers of math instead of just […]

## The Real Value of Computer Science

The coding movement certainly has gained a great deal of traction in a very short period of time. When you consider Seymour Papert’s work in the 70s and 80s, the last three years of Hour of Code are only a small, but significant blip on the historical timeline of Computer Science integration as a compulsory credit […]