As regular readers of this blog will know I’ve been involved in the connected classrooms project #ccGlobal for the past few months (http://connectedclassrooms.wordpress.com/). Towards the end of November it was decided to connect the classrooms by sending holiday greetings around the globe. The plan was to create electronic greetings, create a QR code to connect to the greeting and then sent the QR code in a physical card to other classrooms participating in the project. It wasn’t prescribed how to produce the electronic greeting but Animoto was suggested as a possible tool. Animoto is a web tool that allows you to create you to create video greetings (http://animoto.com/). I’d never used Animoto before but agreed to help out with producing the greeting for my daughter’s class. We took some photos to be used in the greeting, both of the girls and of their artwork. I created an account on Animoto (this isn’t strictly necessary) and got started. With the free standard account you can create 30 second videos. Creating a video with Animoto involves just a few simple steps :
- select a style
- upload pictures or videos
- choose music
- add text
There are various styles to choose from and we chose ‘pop-up pandemonium’ which had a Christmas feel about it. Next you can upload pictures – between 10 – 15 pictures for a greeting (some styles can take more pictures and some less). You can also choose the music you want to attach to your greeting – either from the list of music pre-loaded on Animoto or you can upload your own music. Finally you can add some text which can be interspersed among the pictures. Once you have gone through all of the steps you then produce the video which can be shared. What I loved most about using Animoto was how much the girls loved their greeting – they watched their greeting every morning before they started class and were very excited to see the number of views for the greeting as it was sent around the world. Have a look at the greeting we made http://animoto.com/play/zGDxG6dcj2xr9yLzc0BD0Q. We also included their greetings on a post on the school blog which we wrote in the week before Christmas (http://conventprimarynenagh.scoilnet.ie/blog/2011/12/21/christmas-in-miss-murnanes-3rd-class/). Animoto is a great web tool which is very easy to use and produces great results.
Saturday 17th December was party time at Coder Dojo Limerick. We had more than 20 kids and nearly as many parents on the day. We decided to have the junior and senior groups in the same room as the plan was to connect with the Dublin and Cork Dojos on the day. The vibe on the day was very relaxed – it was decided to go for a much less structured approach than normal – it was a party after all It was great to see the older group continue on work on Robocode under their own initiative. The younger group were happy to happy to just potter about – some working on Scratch projects or checking out what the older group were up to.
We began a Google+ hangout to connect with other Coder Dojos. After a few false starts we connected with the Dojo in Cork. It was great to hear from the Cork group about 3D printing. After a while the aroma of pizzas wafted into the room so all work was abandoned for a while. The pizzas for the party were donated by Dominos Pizza (http://www.dominos.ie/). That wasn’t the end of the donations – smoothies and crisps were kindly given by Wild Orchard (http://www.wildorchard.ie/) and drinks and sweets by Hummingbird Learning Centre (http://www.hummingbirdlearningcentre.com/). As well as the food and drinks donated by local companies, the kids came bearing delicious homemade cookies, crisps, sweets and drinks. I think it’s fair to say that the emphasis on Saturday was more on the food and less on the coding
The Limerick Dojo is taking a break for the holidays and will return on Saturday 21st January 2012. Looking forward to it already
Last week saw the the end of classes for this term so the mood at work was lighter than normal and it was decided to put up the Christmas tree in the office. Once the tree was assembled there was discussion about whether to put on the lights first and then decorate or to decorate and then put on the lights. General concensus was lights first. Then of course there was the discussion about whether to start at the bottom or the top. I personally start at the bottom and either run out of lights before the top of the tree or run out of tree before the end of the lights The latter then involves draping the remainder down the tree and not being able to find the end when January comes!! So now we have the lights up and talk turns to how to put on the baubles. In my naivety I presumed we would just be putting them on in a reasonably haphazard fashion and then moving a few as necessary to make sure it looked ok but apparently this wasn’t to be. It seemed that the baubles were to be put up in bunches of three. To say I wasn’t convinced doesn’t even come close. There followed much discussion about why the baubles would look better in groups of three so groups of three it was. Even though I took to it with gusto I still wasn’t convinced but I have to say that the final result did look good for an office tree.
When it comes to decorating my own Christmas trees the term ‘more is more’ definitely applies. We have two Christmas trees – our grown up’s tree and our children’s one. While I love the grown ups tree, if I could only have one tree, the children’s tree would win every time. This is the tree that has our lives in memories and now the memories continue as we all work together to put up the tree, put the lights on and decorate the tree. There are lots of decorations on that tree with a special meaning. The most precious ones to me are the decorations which hold pictures of both my children on their first Christmas Day. Of course it’s probably only my son and I who remember that the pictures have been swapped around in the frames over the years :-)
Then there are the many decorations with special memories such as the angel from the top of our first tree which was a teeny three foot one, or the decorations we bought on our trip to New York when I was pregnant with my son who is now 12.
Then of course there are the decorations which are special to my son and daughter, such as the Buzz Lightyear decoration which my son loved when he was younger (and still does if truth be told!). The house resonated to the sounds of “to impinity and meyond” which shows how young he was at the time. He gets the honour of putting the Buzz decoration on the tree every year. He was sick this year when my daughter and I began decorating the tree. Once he recovered he lost no time in letting me know that he was not happy with where we placed Buzz and promptly moved him. For my daughter, her favourite decoration at the moment is Pinocchio. Her favourite changes over the years but I think it was the letter to Santa which swung it in Pinocchio’s favour for the past few years Winnie the Pooh decorations also feature heavily on our tree and are some of the first decorations which she puts on the tree every year.
There are so many decorations which I love on my tree that I could write multiple blog posts about them. I’ll leave you with two last pictures of decorations made by my son and daughter, which for me, are what completes my tree
So all of the baubles and all of the memories come together as …
We were back at Coder Dojo in Limerick today after missing the last two weeks. Since my last post we have been working to get the Dojo on a more organised basis as more and more people get involved. We have two groups – the junior room and the senior room and today we had 29 kids at the Dojo. This means we need four mentors every Saturday and need to plan out where we want each of the groups to get to in the short and medium term. It’s great to see so many people getting involved as mentors because I think ultimately the kids at the Dojo will benefit from getting different perspectives. What’s also great to see, is that as more people get on board, the types of things that we get involved in continues to grow. Through my involvement with teaching the younger group Scratch I decided to sign up fully as a mentor. I’m really enjoying it to be honest and would encourage anyone who has a spare Saturday to come along and see what’s going on and maybe get involved. Even if you don’t feel that you could lead a group we’re always looking for people to just generally help out. You never know – you might even learn something along the way For more details about Coder Dojo Limerick check out http://www.coderdojolimerick.com/.
So, what’s been happening in the junior and senior rooms at the Dojo for the past few weeks? The junior room has continued with Scratch, building paddle games, maths multiplications games, explosion game and today we started to make a Pacman game. We usually have a prepared game to give a focus to the session. Once the kids have a basic game created we then discuss ways to improve the game which allows them to take the game in the direction that they are interested in. We often have new people joining so one of the mentors will usually bring them through the basics and help them to get up and running. The senior room meanwhile have worked on the Coder Dojo Limerick website (see link above) in the last while and have now moved on to Robocode. ”Robocode is a programming game, where the goal is to develop a robot battle tank to battle against other tanks in Java or .NET. The robot battles are running in real-time and on-screen.” ref http://robocode.sourceforge.net/. The group started by making straight forward changes to pre-existing tanks which come with Robocode and have now moved on to making their own tanks. The mentors decided that the senior group should come in to the junior room today to get everyone involved in Robocode. For the last hour the mentors took a back seat and it was great to see the seniors showing what they knew to the others. They helped with setting up Robocode and then showed how to run battles and make changes to the tanks. Tank colours were being changed, victory dances were being coded and all without input from the mentors. The kids were so engrossed they didn’t seem to want to go home
So if you like the sound of what’s happening at the Limerick Coder Dojo, come along some Saturday from 12 – 3pm (full details on the website above). There are also Dojo’s in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Drogheda and London with others planned (details can be found at http://coderdojo.com/).
The connected classrooms community (#ccGlobal) have come together to celebrate Christmas by sending cards to each other. This has generated lots of excitement around the world. Each class is creating an electronic Christmas greeting, creating a QR code to access the electronic greeting and sending the QR code in a card to participating schools. Classes are working furiously to create cards and get them in the post and already cards are being delivered to a flurry of great excitement. So far 27 classes are signed up to the project from Ireland, UK, USA, Hungary, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia. For more details check out http://connectedclassrooms.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/christmas-message-exchange-advent-calendar/. For anyone interested in getting involved in #ccGlobal follow the invitation here http://ccglobal.ning.com/?xgi=0tLIMvZdpS2Lmp.
I was in my daughter’s school today to show the girls how to scan the QR code and access the message – they had received two cards in the post this week, one from Holycross and one from Shankill. We had great fun looking at the messages, seeing the children from the other schools and listening to the Christmas songs on the greetings. We took photos for their greeting and I have my instructions on the style and the music for the girls greeting. I will be using Animoto to create the greeting. Animoto allows you to quickly create a greeting by choosing a style, uploading pictures and then choosing music. Then I just need create the QR code and print them ready for posting on Monday.
Besides sending the cards an Advent calendar has been set up so each class will get their day in the limelight. The calendar was launched yesterday with a greeting from Australia – there was great hilarity at the Australian take on ’Jingle Bells’ from the girls today. Day 2 was a message from York in the UK so the girls can’t wait to see whose greeting is next. We’ve signed up for Tuesday 20th. I can only imagine what the excitement will be like on that day