Everyone Can Code With Apple’s K-12 Coding Initiative

Apple’s coding curriculum for schools has been expanded and updated recently to include a full spectrum of offerings for students in K-12 classrooms. It even includes the ability to code smart toys like Spheros and drones. So, if you have access to Apple devices in your school, you should definitely take a look at what this program can offer teachers and students. Here’s what you can expect.

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The Tickle Coding App Gear Guide

Tickle Coding App Gear Guide

The Tickle coding app for iPads and iPhones is a great app for education because it was designed to support multiple devices. Once you learn the basics of how to use the app, you can use it with a variety of programmable gadgets. The app is free and easy to learn. The code you create can be simple or surprisingly complex, depending on the devices that you are working with. It uses a drag and drop block programming interface but it also allows you the ability to view your work as Swift 3.0, (the programming language that developers use to program apps for Apple devices).

About the Devices

None of the devices on this guide were developed specifically for the Tickle app. In fact, many have their own native apps as you will see in some of the videos below. However, when you use the Tickle app with one of these devices you can quickly swap it out for a different device with different capabilities and not have to spend time figuring out a new app. Each device connects to Tickle via a Bluetooth connection and can be controlled by building a program with a variety of different coding blocks. The blocks will vary according to the device you are using and the actions it is able to perform. So, here’s what you can use with the Tickle app for iPad or iPhone.

Dash and Dot

These friendly bots are a big hit in the classroom. Their cheerful personalities are hard to ignore and a wide selection of accessories are available to add variety to the activities that you can plan for. Dash is the mobile one with wheels and the ability to travel around your classroom. His faithful companion, Dot, is a stationary robot but he can also be programmed to perform some basic functions or to act as a trigger for Dash.

Teachers should check out the Wonder Workshop Teacher Portal. Here you can find lesson ideas, help guides and even a K-5 coding curriculum, (note that some lessons are only available for purchase). There is also a collection of Dash & Dot videos on YouTube.

Personally, I find Dash more fun to work with and if I had to choose between a Dash and Dot set or 2 Dash robots, I would choose the latter because there is definitely more you can do with Dash and some of the accessories like the launcher or the xylophone are really only for Dash.

Overall, these robots are a great buy and will provide endless hours of coding fun for your kids. Here are some links to take a look at all that is available for Dash and Dot:

Sphero, Ollie & BB-8

The Sphero, Ollie and BB-8 devices are connected toys that can be programmed with some simple drag and drop coding blocks. Tickle supports Sphero 1.0, 2.0 and the SPRK edition as well as the two-wheeled Ollie and Star Wars themed BB-8 droid.

Right now, the Sphero SPRK edition is probably the best buy if you want to do coding with Tickle, but if you can find a good deal on the Ollie or Sphero 2.o, those are still good bets. Here are some links to find the robots you need.

If you want to use the latest Sphero robot available, the Sphero SPRK+ is the one to get. It didn’t used to work with the Tickle app, but a recent update for the app has added it to a list of compatible devices.

LEGO WeDo 2.0

Like most things that have the Lego brand attached to it, the WeDo 2.0 has a strong following. If you have never seen one before, you could describe it as an entry-level Mindstorms kit. It’s not quite as advanced because it is primarily aimed at Grades 2-4, but it is certainly very versatile and can be programmed to perform a variety of functions. The WeDo is easily expandable due to it’s compatibility with other Lego pieces and the available motors and sensors give you lots of options.

Of note, the Lego WeDo has an app for Chromebooks, and can also connect to Scratch. Teachers using WeDo can connect with each other and get support or ideas in the Lego WeDo Community. The WeDo comes in a variety of different configurations and start at around $150. Learn more here.

LightBlue Bean

The Bean is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board. Like the other devices on this list, it connects to the Tickle app, and receives its instructions, via Bluetooth. It has an RGB LED and a 3-axis accelerometer. I have not spent any extended amounts of time with a Bean but I think it’s safe to say that it’s not meant for beginners. It also won’t do a whole lot by itself because it was designed to accept inputs from a variety of things like switches, motors and sensors, none of which you get when you buy the base Bean.

That being said, these add-ons are typically not very expensive, and this level of connectivity does make it among the more creative devices you can connect to Tickle. Take a look at some sample projects on the Bean website to get a feel for some of the things it can do. Be sure to check out the Bean Community boards for further helps, support and inspiration.

Philips Hue Lights

The Philips Hue lightbulbs are wifi enabled lights that can be controlled remotely with a mobile device. You can change the colors of these lights to almost anything you would like them to display, create schedules for them to follow, or trigger the lights to turn on, off or switch colors based on a series of pre-programmed events. You can even use them with the Amazon Echo devices.

I’ve yet to see anyone use these in the classroom but that is not to say that they can’t be used for learning. If you know anyone that has found a use for the Philips Hue lights, please drop me a note and let me know. I would love to learn more about how people are using them.

MiPosaur

The MiPosaur from WowWee is a relatively recent addition to the stable of devices that you can program with Tickle, but it’s a fun one! It has multiple sensors that let it interact with other dinorsaurs. You can program its movements, change colors, and play sounds. The MiPosaur is cheaper than a Sphero, and comes with BeaconSense infused track ball that can also be used to control the toy. Watch the video below for more idea on what this feisty dinosaur can really do, or learn more here.

Where Are The Drones?

If you have used Tickle before, you may be wondering where the information about the Parrot Drones are in this guide. Well, the short answer is that Tickle has withdrawn it’s support for Parrot devices. This may change in the future, but for now this is the current reality. Read more here.

If you DO want to program your Parrot drones in the classroom, you can still do it, you just can’t do it with Tickle right now. The Tynker app supports Parrot drones, as does Swift Playgrounds, thanks to a special integration from the Parrot Education team. You can find that at bit.ly/swift_drone.

How to Teach Coding in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers

teach coding in the classroom

You’ve probably heard the buzz about coding in the classroom, and you may even have thought about integrating it into your classroom, but just where do you begin? In this post I will run through a few of the most popular online services that are designed to help you and your students get up and coding in no time at all.

1. Scratch and Tynker – One of the best introductions to coding can be had with either Scratch or Tynker. Both are free. Both give you the building blocks of creating code in a visual, sandbox environment. Scratch is a project that came from MIT. It used to be a program you had to download to use, but it can now be utilized completely online. Tynker is an offshoot of Scratch. It looks and works in a very similar way, but has a few more teacher management controls. Use Scratch or Tynker with elementary students and beyond.

2. Codecademy – I love Codecademy. It takes things one step beyond the basics and has you writing some actual code, but it is also a one-stop shop for all your coding needs. It has a variety of stepped tutorials that walk you through the programming language of your choice based on no previous experience. Javascript, Python, HTML, PHP and Ruby are among your choices for your first coding expedition.

codecademy

3. Code Avengers – This is a great site for middle school and above. If Codecademy lacks a little personality for you, try Code Avengers. It has a superhero-esque theme with a built-in gamification element that awards points, badges and games to keep the learning fun and addictive. HTML/CSS and Javascript are the main focus of this site.

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How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the classroom is becoming an increasingly popular thing to do. The Hour of Code helped raise awareness for that, and has brought to light a whole slew of new coding opportunities for teachers and students. I was similarly inspired, and have committed myself to learning HTML and CSS in my spare time this year. However, regardless of what code you decide to learn, or teach, you will need a code editor with which to compile your code. For me, there are few that have more benefits than the free Editey website editor apps.

editey

Editey apps can be installed inside Google Drive. Simply click Create > Connect More Apps, and search for Editey. Once you have installed the apps you want, all you need to do is hit the big red Create button to get started on some code. All your files are then stored inside Drive and can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on a Mac, PC or Chromebook. Better still, any files you create can be shared with other users and worked on in real time. This means students can collaborate with each other on their code, and share it with their teacher when they are done.

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My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids!

December 9-15, 2013 is Computer Science Education Week, and this year their big push is to get coding incorporated into school curriculums everywhere. There are lots of reasons why kids should be coding, but none more than the fact that there are more resources than ever to help students and teachers get started, regardless of their previous experiences with computer programming. So, in honor of the #HourOfCode project, here is my BIG list of iPad coding apps for kids. There is something here for students of all ages.

bee botBee Bot PyramidcoddyKineScriptilogo

Bee-Bot (Free) – The new Bee-Bot App from TTS Group has been developed based on our well-loved, award-winning Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.

Bee-Bot Pyramid ($0.99) – A fun educational Numeracy game which encourages directional language, sequencing and problem solving. The Bee-Bot app teaches children how to direct and move their Bee-Bot character by giving it a set of sequential commands that they programme in, by pressing the keypad buttons.

Coddy Free or Coddy Luck (Free or $1.99) – CODDY FREE is an original educational tool with the MAIN OBJECTIVE of creating a sequence of steps so that the pencil Coddy can draw a pattern you have chosen from the menu or created by yourself. DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY? There are max. 220 rows to be filled in and there are 7 basic commands to be used. NOW, CAN YOU MAKE IT?

KineScript Lite or KineScript (Free or $1.99) – KineScript is a visual programming language that children can learn a code and share it. It’s easy to make a scene with built-in sprite characters, stage images and sounds library. Drag a script and build the script block to control the flow and to change the behaviour. You can build animations, games and stories easily to share them by email.

i-Logo – LOGO was created in 1967 for educational use, is a computer programming language with functional programming capability. This version of LOGO is an interpreted language, but isn’t a lite version. Functional programming with global and local variables is implemented.

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