Showing posts from August, 2017

Slowetwiam Inspiration

When I first came up with this idea to organize a slow Twitter chat that would last for five full days, 24 hours a day, at a time when most teachers from European schools are still on holidays, I had absolutely no clue how it would go! But I liked the idea and proposed it to Irene Pateraki, eTwinning CSS Pedagogical and Monitoring Manager, who gave me her full support.

Two weeks ago the word slowetwiam didn't exist. Now,  it is a lively buzzword that has attracted teachers from Europe and beyond to learning and sharing on Twitter.

More than 1,000 tweets, retweets and replies have been sent out by 90 teachers over the past 5 days! Some teachers actively participated from the beginning to the very end, while others chimed in whenever they could. Our tweets have been delivered to Twitter timelines more than 2,283,000 times!

We had our ups and downs during the chat:

We discussed five topics and inspired each other with so many great ideas.

#slowetwiam :a great way to get us in the moo…

Computational Thinking? Yes, I can teach it!

"Computational thinking is a way humans solve problems; it is not trying to get humans to think like computers. Computers are dull and boring; humans are clever and imaginative. Equipped with computing devices, we use our cleverness to tackle problems we would not dare take on before computing and build systems with functionality limited only by our imaginations."

According to J. Wing, this is one of the characteristic of computational thinking. To me, this is what makes computational thinking so tremendously exciting: combining computing with imagination and knowing that the sky is the limit.

We don't need to be rocket scientists to understand and teach computational thinking. Check out my posts about  how to teach computational thinking with tech tools.

Tech Tools To Boost Visual Thinking Skills
Tech Tools To Boost Verbal Thinking Skills
Formulate Problems In A different And Fun Way
Tech Tools To Recognize Patterns
Tech Tools To Teach Abstract Thinking: Scavenger Hunts and …

Tech Tools For Algorithm Design

Algorithm design, the fourth and final element of computational thinking, may seem like rocket science to educators who have only a vague idea of what an algorithm is, let alone design it! Or teach it!

But fear not! You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand and design algorithms - and then teach algorithm design to your students! Because computational thinking is much less computational (rocket and computer scientists, please don't get me wrong!) and much more thinking! And when I say thinking, I mean using our brain - not only the left, but also the right side, to solve problems. Because we need logic AND creativity to come up with innovative solutions.

In fact, we already ARE teaching computational thinking to our students. Their computational thinking skills are being developed whenever they work out a rule, determine a principle underlying a process, and create a tutorial or a step by step guide to solving problems. Or when they are learning programming and …

Tech Tools For Abstract Thinking: Scavenger Hunts And More

Abstraction is the third element of computational thinking. Abstract reasoning or abstract thinking refers to the ability to identify and analyze general principles that generate the patterns we previously detected.

In activities that require abstract reasoning students are asked to interpret, analyze and evaluate information or ideas, connect the "dots", form and explain viewpoints, and draw reasonable conclusions.

There are many activities and tools that we can use with students to develop their abstract thinking skills. They can play games, take part in debates or solve puzzles and riddles.

To create puzzles, cryptograms, riddles and rebuses, you can use Discovery Education Puzzlemaker, CryptoclubRebus Generator or Riddle Generator. These tools are especially useful for online scavenger hunts.

Scavenger hunts are great to boost students abstract thinking skills. A scavenger hunt is a game that consists of a number of different types of tasks or activities.  Students …

Tech Tools For Recognizing Patterns

After visualizing and verbalizing problems, students can now proceed to the second stage of computational thinking: recognizing patterns, detecting trends and finding regularities in data. They can use graphic organizers to identify relationships between objects, connect and classify information and recognize patterns.

Here are some tools and websites where you can find free printable graphic organizers:
Graphic Organizers by Scholastic
Graphic Organizers by Education Place
Free Graphic Organizers by edhelper
Student Handouts

On this site you can find a very easy-to-use Venn Diagram Maker. Gliffy and Lucidchart that I mentioned in my post on verbal thinking can also be used to create Venn diagrams to indicate which elements are common and which are unique in a list of things.

On ReadWriteThink there are a lot of useful graphic organizers, such as
Compare and contrast
Connection stem  and Connection Web for making connections, e.g. in a text
KWL Creator

Check out ten free downloadable graph…

Slow Twitter Chat

Twitter chats represent an excellent opportunity for professional development.

A Twitter chat is an online conversation about a specific topic. It usually lasts for an hour during which a facilitator tweets out questions. There are usually up to 6 questions posted during a Twitter chat. The participants send out tweets, retweet other participants' tweets and reply to them to make the conversation lively and diverse. While sharing their ideas, experiences, examples of best practice, as well as links to interesting and useful websites,  they use a predetermined hashtag (#) to make it easier to follow the chat, because Twitter chats are usually "fast and furious".

So far I've facilitated a number of an-hour-long "fast and furious" Twitter chats for eTwinning teachers. In such chats, there are sometimes a lot of tweets sent out at the same time, which makes it difficult to follow. That's why I decided to  do a completely different Twitter chat - a SLOW one…

Web 2.0 Tools For Problem Finding

Wait, what? Tech tools for problem finding? Seriously? Don't we have enough problems anyway?

Of course we do, but problems urge us - and inspire us - to come up with innovative solutions. Problem finding is one of the key components of computational thinking.

In the classroom students are usually given a problem or a challenge that they have to solve to show their learning and they usually do it in the way we want them to do it, e.g. answer a question, create a comic book, do an experiment. Why not add a bit of unpredictability or randomness to the problems and the way they can be solved? This will make students much more engaged in performing "unexpected" and randomly assigned tasks and activities to present their learning. To do this you can use tools known as learning event generators.

Learning Event Generator - LEG is a tool created by John Davitt. It functions so that it randomly generates problems (DO) as well as different options or ways how to solve that problem …

Tech Tools To Boost Verbal Thinking Skills

In my recent post from the series on Teaching Computational Thinking, I shared some web 2.0 tools to boost student visual thinking skills. In this post I'm sharing some tools for enhancing verbal thinking skills.

However, it is important to understand that verbal thinking skills should and could by no means be separated from visual thinking skills. They do not exclude each other; quite to the contrary, they are closely interwoven. "They coexist in every mind, and creative impulses emerge when they interact. (Otis, 2016).

According to Repenning et. al (2016), informal doodling on napkins is an excellent example of verbal thinking. But doodling can also include visual elements, just like sketchnoting, a combination of verbal and visual thinking. Besides doodling and sketchnoting, students can use sticky notes to break down information, they can identify problems by writing a storyboard or they can create timelines to verbally organize information. Here are some web tools to bo…

Tech Tools To Boost Visual Thinking Skills

As described in a previous postthe first stage of computational thinking is decomposition, or breaking down data, procesess and problems into manageable parts. This first stage of computational thinking is also known as problem formulation and it includes problem finding (Repenning et al., 2016). Both problem finding and problem formulation are crucial for computational thinking, because if we want to come up with innovative and creative solutions, we first need to identify the problem to decompose it – to break it down into smaller parts in order to create innovative solutions. 

Decomposition can be performed through visual and verbal thinking. Visual and verbal thinking help us conceptualize problems visually and verbally.  Mindmaps, diagrams, spreadsheets and simulations can be used to boost visual thinking. They help students visualize problems and visually organize information. Informal doodling on napkins is an excellent example of verbal thinking. To boost verbal thinking skill…

Computational Thinking? Yes, but how do I teach it?

Briefly put, computational thinking is a problem solving process that combines critical thinking with the computing power and as such it represents the foundation for creativity and innovation (ISTE).   Because computational thinking can - and should be applied to all aspects of life, it is an important skill that our students need to master.   But how can we teach it to our students? Are we teaching it already without being fully aware of it? Yes, we are!

I have just stumbled upon a course by Google for Education that provides an excellent explanation as well as lots of resources on how to teach computational thinking.

First of all, to fully understand what computational thinking really means, the course authors break it down into the following four elements:

Decomposition: Breaking down data, processes, or problems into smaller, manageable partsPattern Recognition:Observing patterns, trends, and regularities in dataAbstraction: Identifying the general principles that generate these …