Hour of Code: Start Learning Now

Hour of Code


In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14, 2014), Code.org is sponsoring and promoting a worldwide Hour of Code. (Hour of Code is organized by Code.org, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.)

Hour of Code
Hour of Code

In the first year of Hour of Code, over 52 million students completed an introduction to programming! US President Barack Obama recently joined the Hour of Code and wrote his first lines of JavaScript. Hour of Code events are planned all over the world, and this year’s goal is to have 100 million participants.

Where to Sign Up

To try your first Hour of Code, visit http://code.org/learn to choose a fun game-based tutorial (featuring Angry Birds and Disney’s Frozen), or find a tutorial app to download. There’s even a way to learn code on paper if you’re unplugged.

Want more choices? take a look at https://www.khanacademy.org/hourofcode for an introduction to drawing with JavaScript, HTML/CSS for web pages, or SQL databases. The tutorials are easy to follow, and free of charge!

Feeling especially motivated to help? Organize a local Hour of Code event or camp. Sign up and start planning here.

Continue with Free Coding Lessons

Of course, the whole idea behind Hour of Code is to cultivate desire and enthusiasm for learning programming. So if you love your first hour, there are plenty of next-step code lessons available at Khan Academy, and they’re all free.

How to Get Kids to Wash Hands the Right Way

keep-calm-wash-hands-400x400Now that school is back in session, kids are exposed to bacteria and viruses more frequently. Just three days into the first week of school, my fourth grade daughter came home with a fever. I was annoyed, but not surprised, at how quickly she had gotten sick.

When illnesses make the news, reporters always share advice from doctors on how to keep yourself and your family healthy. Hand washing is always on the list of things to do. It’s the easiest way to prevent illnesses from influenza to diarrhea. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.

Handwashing Guildelines from the CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

We all know that kids don’t always wash. They may skip it completely, or just wet and wipe their hands on a towel or their clothes.

To encourage my kids to wash their hands properly and for the recommended amount of time, I tried putting new words to the “Happy Birthday” tune. The CDC recommends scrubbing for the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice.

To get started, wet your hands, get a squirt of soap, and start singing! Here are the words to go with the washing:

Sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday to You”
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Repeat.

Sure, it’s repetitive, but it’s easy to remember, and includes all of the important information. Scrub those hands! Palms, knuckles, and between the fingers.

I hope this little song is helpful for you and your family. Have a healthy school year!

For more information and instruction, check out these printable handwashing posters from the CDC:
germs-poop
How to Handwash
Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands
One Trillion Germs Can Live in a Gram of Poop

Summer Vacation Time Management Worksheet

I’m not one of those moms who look forward to spending a long, lazy summer vacation at home with the kids. I’m one of those moms who wish the kids could stay in school all summer long.

I love my kids, but I don’t love having them all around the house, all day, every day, all summer. So I make schedules for them. They’re not too rigorous or inflexible, but it helps prevent too much milling around the house in boredom. It also alleviates some of the zombie-eyed screen infatuation, by making them do things outdoors and away from electronics.

Here is a worksheet I put together this morning. The kids resist having all of their time managed by Mom, because it feels too much like school and not enough like vacation. I’m hoping that this system will be a good compromise, allowing them to have some control over their time, while still fitting in the things I feel are essential, such as personal hygiene, nutrition, brain exercise, and outdoor fun.

It’s free to download and print, and you can also customize it for your own family. If you find it helpful, please leave a comment and/or share a link to this post with your friends. Happy vacationing!

Kids’ summer time management worksheet
summer-worksheet

Classcraft Engages Students in Learning Game

Classcraft warriors
Classcraft warriors
I love games, and so do my kids. I often wonder how to incorporate game elements into everyday activities, to make life more fun and nerdy. I have just learned about a new game that teachers can play in class with students, and I think this is a very exciting innovation!

It’s called Classcraft, and it’s a live-action role playing game that involves students, teachers, individual responsibility and team work. Watch this video for an introduction to the Classcraft concept.

Classcraft is a role playing game that integrates into any subject class. With the teacher acting as Game Master, students are grouped into small teams and assume the character attributes of a Warrior, Mage, or Healer. Each character class has its own benefits, and the blend of roles encourages teams to work together and help each other. Of course, individual responsibility and achievements are most important to a student’s success in the game.

Classcraft healers
Classcraft healers
Game elements such as earning experience points, leveling-up, responding to random events, taking damage, and even in-game death bring the experience to life. Students earn points for doing classwork, helping each other and having a positive attitude, and lose points for being late, arguing, and poor performance. Scores translate into real-life benefits and consequences, such as in-class snacks or Saturday detention.

Classcraft is free to play, and can be upgraded for an additional cost per class or per school. The game is managed via a website, with teacher/student iOS apps, additional customizations, and other upgrades coming soon.

This is an interesting way to get students more engaged in classroom learning. Teachers can modify game elements to suit their needs, and not every student needs to participate, although I imagine most kids would want to get involved.

I’ve sent a link to Classcraft to the head of our charter school, and I hope you’ll share it, too. I’m supportive of anything that helps kids feel more excited about learning!

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