Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Season's Greetings to All

The holiday season is upon us. Normally in our blog we would share with you our thoughts on educational and social opportunities/issues and provide some connected resources.  However, as we plan for the Christmas break, we would like to share with you some of our all-time favorite seasonal ‘net resources.

The Christmas Story by the Metropolitan Museum is a beautiful site where you can have the Christmas Story read to you while viewing the artwork, you can read the story yourself, or look at the Christmas Story in art.

Some may think advent calendars are a “chocolate” event, but this Advent Calendar site provides Christmas traditions - food, treats, candles, even reindeer - within the context of the bible. Make sure you click on all the links on each page to learn and hear about each tradition.

While spending holiday time with your children, visit the Norad Santa Tracker.   There is lots of information about Santa, how Norad tracks Santa, and more if you click on the Norad HQ link on the side menu. And then, of course, there is the actual tracking of Santa on Christmas Eve - what fun for kids of all ages.

For fun and a time for all adults to be child-like, we always love the Rein Deer Orchestra. This site can’t help but bring a smile to your face.  

All of these sites above and much more can be found on our Christmas Enjoy page.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the Chanukah [Hanukkah] resources we have gathered together to celebrate the eight day festival of lights.

We at wish you the best of seasons, with family and friends.  We look forward to 2015 with great anticipation of what the educational technology world will bring!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Calling All Teachers - The Hour of Code Movement Dec. 8 - 14, 2014

December 8-14 is the Hour of Code learning week. Last year hundreds of organizations joined together to create fun introductions to programming for all to learn. In one week alone more girls tried computer science than in the last 70 years and 15 million students worldwide learned an Hour of Code. This year the goal is to get 100 million participants from all across the globe.

The Hour of Code website provides a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. “The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.”

This promotional video about the Hour of Code about coding is a great place to start. Featured stars work with students and discuss the merits and opportunities in learning how to code. wants to add our enthusiastic support for the Hour of Code movement.  Here are some videos and tutorials to help get you and your students excited about coding.

The movie “ Frozen” is the basis for this Hour of Code instructional video on how to code a pattern for Elsa to skate.  

Want to try it with your students? Use code on the site to "join Anna and Elsa as they explore the magic and beauty of ice."
As well, there are some very engaging tutorials for students on the site in the Learn section to get you started.

Heard of Scratch, Kodu, Hopscotch or Light-Bot? Links to these great coding sites and more can be found in Create to help you and your students get coding!

If you are looking for some extra guidance, be sure to check out the Teacher Resources on coding, also available right from the Teacher Resource button on the page with the coding links.

If you are an Alberta school with students involved with the Hour of Code, we would love to hear your story!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Homelessness - What can we do?

So Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 was Giving Tuesday - “a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Cyber Monday. The “opening day of the giving season,” it is a day where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others.” 
This time of year is always a significant time to participate in the BIGGER sense of gift giving, as young people anticipate the upcoming holiday.

According to a recent CTV video, new numbers from the homeless count show there are more youth and families without a home.  Of the 2200+ homeless in Edmonton, there are 17% more youth and 25% more families on the street since last year.


So what can we do?

Report what you see.  The Edmonton Journal, Nov. 10, 2014 feature on “Call 211 for homeless in distress describes how the system works.   “Calling 211 will connect to the Bissell Centre’s 24/7 mobile team, allowing staff to help without unnecessarily involving police or emergency services. The staff can give out warm clothes and help people living on the street reach long-term help.”

In December, it is a tradition of the Provincial Team to collects goods for those less fortunate, from turkeys for the Food Bank to clothing for the Bissell Centre.   This year, a call to the Bissell Centre in Edmonton revealed a high need for baby formula and larger sized disposable diapers.  As well, they always need a large supply of men’s dark toques, gloves, socks and new underwear.

We know the spirit of giving is alive and well in all schools in Alberta. In your school or class, you may already be collecting for a cause that you value.  If you are a greater Edmonton based school, the Bissell list may help.  If you are looking for opportunities to give locally, contact your local support agencies (Salvation Army, Mustard Seed, Hope Mission, or churches for example).

If you are considering teaching a lesson or unit on homelessness, the Homeless Hub website has some excellent teacher and student resources for all grade levels.   

In teaching and reaching out with your students you make an impact on building that spirit of giving.

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”
[Mary Anne Radmacher]