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Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis the Season To Get Fired...

Just because you have information about something, does not mean you are responsible for disseminating it without thinking of the consequences. This substitute teacher found out the hard way recently after being fired from her job after disclosing the "truth" about Santa Claus.

"Santa Claus & Easter Bunny" issues are sensitive subjects especially in the lower grades. I had to handle a similar situation a couple years ago in a 2nd grade classroom.

Even if the kids are insistent to know the truth, it should come from a parent. Even then, the youngster might not be quite ready.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Hour of Code...

My first exposure to computer programming was via a programming course through the mathematics department at San Jose State College in the late 60's.

Our assignment was to design, code, debug a simple add/subtract function calculator designed to run on an IBM-14xx?  series computer.

Program code and data was input on 80 column IBM punch cards and output was on high-speed line printer paper. This took several cycles of run, error, debug, and retest cycles to end up with a working program.

This intro exposure to software was followed by Fortran and Cobal programming courses that paid off with my first programming job at the test division of Fairchild Systems Technology in 1971 followed by a 30+ years of designing and coding programs for embedded microprocessors with several Silicon Valley companies.

State of the art programming has come a long way from my "assembly language" expertise as evidenced in the PBS Hour of Code project. The intro "Angry Bird" sessions are simple to understand and use.

Kids who want more can progress from this level to the more advanced programming levels at their own pace. Click the "Hour of Code" link below to start the online version or download the app from the "App Store" links


PBS KIDS released its first coding app called PBS KIDS ScratchJr. This comes at the right time, as Computer Science Education Week kicks off on Monday (December 7-13). As part of next week’s activities, the international launch of the Hour of Code takes place to encourage young children to learn this vital new language that will be part of the future of learning.

Designed for kids ages 5-8, PBS KIDS ScratchJr enables kids to create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from Wild Kratts, Nature Cat, WordGirl and Peg + Cat. 

By snapping together colorful programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance and sing. In the process, kids will learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively.

The app is free, and can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play.

PBS KIDS ScratchJr Features
  • Colorful Programming Blocks: Snap together the color-coded programming blocks to create sequences of actions that cause characters to animate and interact in fun and exciting ways.
  • PBS KIDS Characters and Backgrounds: Create projects based on PBS KIDS shows and mix-and-match over 150 characters.
  • Paint Editing: Create unique characters and backgrounds.
  • Voice Recording: Use the recording tool to add sounds and give voice to projects.
  • Story Starters: Find inspiration with in-app story starters! Each Story Starter features a different set of characters and is designed to encourage children to edit and complete the story however they would like.