Hour of Code

This year’s annual Hour of Code is scheduled for December 7-13. Teaching students coding skills promotes critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and teaches critical computer science skills. In my middle school computer education classes, my students work on their coding coursework for approximately 45 minutes weekly. I think teaching students how to code is one of the most critical skills we can teach our students to prepare them for the workforce and to equip them with 21st century skills.

Sign your class up at code.org to join the Hour of Code movement. There are even prizes!

Code.org has released new coding tutorials in the past few weeks based on Minecraft and Star Wars. My classes tried them out on Friday and loved them. Check them out for yourself at Code Studio.

Any other ways you plan on using coding skills in your classroom?

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.
This post is not a sponsored post. I just love and use the resources at code.org and promote their use in every classroom!

Teaching our students about the Paris attacks

I came across this article from Common Sense Media about how to talk to our kids about what they see in the news about the Paris terror attacks. The article provides some useful tips for talking to kids about what they see in the news in general. I like the handy tips that I can use with my students for addressing these news issue in a matter that makes sense to them and is developmentally appropriate.

It is awful that we have to have these conversations with our students. But these useful tips will certainly come in handy.

Peace for all.

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.

Engaging the Community

Our schools should be the centers of our communities. They provide the foundation for the children in the community. Therefore, it is vital that we engage all the members of the local community in our schools.

Here are some ways to engage your families and community members in your schools:

  • Curriculum nights: Family Reading Night, Science Fairs, and Math Nights are great ways to have the students and families join together in learning.
  • Service projects: Service projects are a great way for the students to give back to their community and the people who have supported them.
  • Events in the community: Find opportunities for the band to perform at a community event. Hold the student walkathon at the local park. Hang student artwork in local cafes and restaurants.

Getting the students out in the community will allow the community members to witness the good our students are doing! 

Any other ideas? Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.

Obama’s New Testing Action Plan

President Obama has released an open letter to the parents and students of our country. In this letter, he addresses his plans for new, smarter testing for students instead of more standardized tests. He calls on the need to have new and diverse measures of academic progress. He points to the fact that we don’t need more standardized testing; an issue this nation’s teachers have been saying for years! This plan is a step in the right direction.

Read the letter here.


Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.

Digital Citizenship Week

This week is Digital Citizenship Week! Digital citizenship is about more than Internet safety. In my middle school computer classes, I teach a unit on digital citizenship to each of my 6th-8th grade classes. We cover topics such as our digital media lives, how we present ourselves on social media, copyright laws, and Internet research. Of course, we also cover typical topics associated with Internet safety, such as recognizing online predators and  safe and securepasswords. Cyber bullying topics are also part of the curriculum. 

What topics do you teach in your digital citizenship unit?

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here!

Managing Screen Time

In our 21st century world in which everyone is glued to their cell phones and tablets, we need to do better at managing our screen time for ourselves and our children and students. I am a big proponent of technology and the ways it makes me life easier and provides for leisure activities. However, I also think it is important that we spend some time away from our screens. It is key that we incorporate exercise and active play into our students’ days as well as the screen time.

Read this article for some additional tips on managing screen time.

What are your ideas for managing screen time? Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.

Another school shooting

When will the madness end?

Read this article. It is an editorial about how we address school shootings in our schools.

Teaching our kids to hide in their classrooms if a shooter enters is the sad reality of our world.

We must do better.