Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chromebooks Become Billboards

Our kids have ChromeBooks. Our district uses Google Apps for Education (GAFE). All the kids' Chromebooks are managed through our GAFE account. So what does that mean? It means we get to set the "Wallpaper" on their devices! This is extremely valuable real estate in an environment where communicating a message to all students typically relies on an intercom, a text message or, unfortunately, a sheet of paper. Well, now we can communicate whatever we need to right in their face on the device that they use throughout their day at school and home. At first, the students weren't too excited about the loss of their ability to personalize "their" ChromeBook wallpaper. But that grumbling faded quickly as the wallpapers being pushed became interactive with challenges that encouraged action on their part. From requesting their ideas and stories on kindness to having them submit their own original "Fall Photos" through a Google Form, participation has been excellent. Students seem to enjoy the spontaneity of it all while the teachers appreciate the fact that they don't have to police the inappropriate wallpapers that some students were choosing. We plan to keep using the wallpaper to engage, challenge and reach our students in creative ways right where they are. What ways can you think of for how this wallpaper can be used to engage kids? Please share in the comments. See some examples of past wallpapers below.

Fall Leaves Photo Contest 
This challenged kids to submit their original Fall photos with one student's photo being chosen as the wallpaper for the next week. Over 60 submissions were made!

Below is the student photo that was chosen. The student's name has been removed for this post.

Wallpaper to gets kids curious about the Hour of Code

Student Wallpaper-Monday 8am 1 week before the Hour of Code

Student Wallpaper at 3pm the same day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kids learning computer science through the #HourOfCode

Every Hoover City School is participating on some level in the Hour of Code this week as part of National Computer Science Week. The Hour of Code is considered largest single learning event on the planet with over 15 MILLION students participating in "computer coding" activities during the week of Dec 8-14, 2014. is the catalyst behind this initiative and provides most of the activities that students can do in order to learn the basics behind computer coding. The site offers tutorials and activities for "learners ranging from 4 to 104." Our students are using their chromebooks, ipads or even doing "unplugged" coding activities where they learn the logic and steps involved in coding without an actual computer. The goal of the Hour of Code is to expose kids to computer science through fun, engaging and challenging coding activities. As one of the fastest growing career fields in the U.S., we are hoping to generate an interest in our students and inspire those that enjoy computer science to learn more about it.