Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Integrating Digital Storytelling into the Curriculum

          For my gifted fifth grade Language Arts students, I would assign a digital storytelling project as part of a genre study. For example, if we’re studying mysteries, they would read at least one mystery, identify the required elements of a mystery, identify optional elements of a mystery, and then craft a digital mystery story using these elements. This same project could be done with any genre. This assignment would demonstrate mastery of the elements of that particular genre. This would require them to access all levels of Bloom’s for completion.

           At the beginning of this unit, I would familiarize students with web resources such as Powtoons, PowerPoint, Animoto, Voicethread, Crumbles, and Zeega. I would also have them watch tutorials such as: What is Digital Storytelling? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXfNzsFFgQ4&spfreload=10) and Digital Storytelling Tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sgMEFJUpqI&spfreload=10). Ideally, I would try to find an expert in digital storytelling to speak to the class. This unit will require access to computers in school, so use of a computer lab will probably be necessary. I would also prefer that each student have a jump drive so their work can be saved and they can continue working at home.

           As this unit is for gifted learners, much of it will be self-directed with the teacher acting as facilitator. In the final product, I would be looking for a complete story (beginning, middle, and end) as well as a minimum number of elements usually found in the genre. These elements should be fairly easily identifiable in the final product.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Is computer coding a foreign language?

Should coding be considered a foreign language for high school credit requirements? I found an interesting article linked here from U.S. News and World Report. The article shares the different points of view on this topic. Believe it or not, Florida actually tried to do something first! Florida Senator Jeremy Ring submitted a bill to allow students to choose computer coding over the traditional foreign language requirements. The bill passed the Florida Senate, but then died. In speaking to the Senate, Ring said, "We can be the first state to do this, or we can be the 50th state to do it. It's our choice. It's going to happen."

I found this to be an interesting debate. The concept is that coding is a foreign language, allowing us to communicate with computers. Critics say that speaking a foreign language is a great advantage in the world marketplace. As someone who took the required two years of a foreign language, I can tell you that I am in no way fluent in Spanish, so I don't see the current requirements as beneficial.

I do think that coding courses should be considered a foreign language. Sure, maybe speaking Chinese will be a marketable skill, but communicating with computers? No doubt that this is a skill that will be needed more and more as technology continues to grow exponentially. Our students today are digital natives, so they should have the chance to learn the language. All the computer hardware in the world won't do us any good if we can't tell the computers what we want them to do.

Galvin, Gaby (2016). Some Say Computer Coding is a Foreign Language. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved on 10/14/16 from http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2016-10-13/spanish-french-python-some-say-computer-coding-is-a-foreign-language.