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Tech Tools For Abstract Thinking, Scavenger Hunts And More

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Abstraction is the third element of computational thinking. Abstract reasoning or abstract thinking refers to the ability to identify and analyze general principles that generate the patterns we previously detected.

In activities that require abstract reasoning students are asked to interpret, analyze and evaluate information or ideas, connect the "dots", form and explain viewpoints, and draw reasonable conclusions.

There are many activities and tools that we can use with students to develop their abstract thinking skills. They can play games, take part in debates or solve puzzles and riddles.

To create puzzles, cryptograms, riddles and rebuses, you can use Discovery Education Puzzlemaker, CryptoclubRebus Generator or Riddle Generator. These tools are especially useful for online scavenger hunts.

Scavenger hunts are great to boost students abstract thinking skills. A scavenger hunt is a game that consists of a number of different types of tasks or activities.  Students …

Tech Tools For Recognizing Patterns

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After visualizing and verbalizing problems, students can now proceed to the second stage of computational thinking: recognizing patterns, detecting trends and finding regularities in data. They can use graphic organizers to identify relationships between objects, connect and classify information and recognize patterns.

Here are some tools and websites where you can find free printable graphic organizers:
Graphic Organizers by Scholastic
Graphic Organizers by Education Place
Free Graphic Organizers by edhelper
Student Handouts

On this site you can find a very easy-to-use Venn Diagram Maker. Gliffy and Lucidchart that I mentioned in my post on verbal thinking can also be used to create Venn diagrams to indicate which elements are common and which are unique in a list of things.

On ReadWriteThink there are a lot of useful graphic organizers, such as
Compare and contrast
Connection stem  and Connection Web for making connections, e.g. in a text
KWL Creator

Check out ten free downloadable graph…

Slow Twitter Chat

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Twitter chats represent an excellent opportunity for professional development.

A Twitter chat is an online conversation about a specific topic. It usually lasts for an hour during which a facilitator tweets out questions. There are usually up to 6 questions posted during a Twitter chat. The participants send out tweets, retweet other participants' tweets and reply to them to make the conversation lively and diverse. While sharing their ideas, experiences, examples of best practice, as well as links to interesting and useful websites,  they use a predetermined hashtag (#) to make it easier to follow the chat, because Twitter chats are usually "fast and furious".

So far I've facilitated a number of an-hour-long "fast and furious" Twitter chats for eTwinning teachers. In such chats, there are sometimes a lot of tweets sent out at the same time, which makes it difficult to follow. That's why I decided to  do a completely different Twitter chat - a SLOW one…

Web 2.0 Tools For Problem Finding

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Wait, what? Tech tools for problem finding? Seriously? Don't we have enough problems anyway?

Of course we do, but problems urge us - and inspire us - to come up with innovative solutions. Problem finding is one of the key components of computational thinking.

In the classroom students are usually given a problem or a challenge that they have to solve to show their learning and they usually do it in the way we want them to do it, e.g. answer a question, create a comic book, do an experiment. Why not add a bit of unpredictability or randomness to the problems and the way they can be solved? This will make students much more engaged in performing "unexpected" and randomly assigned tasks and activities to present their learning. To do this you can use tools known as learning event generators.

Learning Event Generator - LEG is a tool created by John Davitt. It functions so that it randomly generates problems (DO) as well as different options or ways how to solve that problem …

Tech Tools To Boost Verbal Thinking Skills

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In my recent post from the series on Teaching Computational Thinking, I shared some web 2.0 tools to boost student visual thinking skills. In this post I'm sharing some tools for enhancing verbal thinking skills.

However, it is important to understand that verbal thinking skills should and could by no means be separated from visual thinking skills. They do not exclude each other; quite to the contrary, they are closely interwoven. "They coexist in every mind, and creative impulses emerge when they interact. (Otis, 2016).

According to Repenning et. al (2016), informal doodling on napkins is an excellent example of verbal thinking. But doodling can also include visual elements, just like sketchnoting, a combination of verbal and visual thinking. Besides doodling and sketchnoting, students can use sticky notes to break down information, they can identify problems by writing a storyboard or they can create timelines to verbally organize information. Here are some web tools to bo…

Tech Tools To Boost Visual Thinking Skills

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As described in a previous postthe first stage of computational thinking is decomposition, or breaking down data, procesess and problems into manageable parts. This first stage of computational thinking is also known as problem formulation and it includes problem finding (Repenning et al., 2016). Both problem finding and problem formulation are crucial for computational thinking, because if we want to come up with innovative and creative solutions, we first need to identify the problem to decompose it – to break it down into smaller parts in order to create innovative solutions. 

Decomposition can be performed through visual and verbal thinking. Visual and verbal thinking help us conceptualize problems visually and verbally.  Mindmaps, diagrams, spreadsheets and simulations can be used to boost visual thinking. They help students visualize problems and visually organize information. Informal doodling on napkins is an excellent example of verbal thinking. To boost verbal thinking skill…

Computational Thinking? Yes, but how do I teach it?

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Briefly put, computational thinking is a problem solving process that combines critical thinking with the computing power and as such it represents the foundation for creativity and innovation (ISTE).   Because computational thinking can - and should be applied to all aspects of life, it is an important skill that our students need to master.   But how can we teach it to our students? Are we teaching it already without being fully aware of it? Yes, we are!

I have just stumbled upon a course by Google for Education that provides an excellent explanation as well as lots of resources on how to teach computational thinking.

First of all, to fully understand what computational thinking really means, the course authors break it down into the following four elements:

Decomposition: Breaking down data, processes, or problems into smaller, manageable partsPattern Recognition:Observing patterns, trends, and regularities in dataAbstraction: Identifying the general principles that generate these …

InstaStory-Telling

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It was in August last year that Instagram introduced InstaStories - pictures or short videos  to which users can add stickers, emojis, drawings, filters and what not. InstaStories do not appear in our Feed, but on our profile and in the row on the top of our followers' feed. Our followers can see our InstaStory if they tap on the colorful ring around our profile picture. Most interestingly, Instastories disappear after 24 hours - which is strikingly similar to Snapchat and for which Instagram gives credit to Snapchat. With many new features added to InstaStories on a weekly basis, it has  now become more popular than Snapchat with more than 200 million users per day.

We can save InstaStories and prevent them from disappearing forever. Our followers can post comments to each InstaStory and we can reply to their comments.

I discovered them only recently and immediately fell in love with them. Not only that, but I think InstaStories have huge potential in the classroom. Our students…

FCL Summer Academy

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From July 3 - 7, Bart and I designed and led a new course in the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels. The course FCL Summer Academy focused on the enhancement of creativity and innovation in the classroom. There were 34 participants, teachers from 9 European countries.

We have just received course evaluation results and we are delighted and proud of the fantastic feedback given on the course and our expertise by the participants.

Read more about our FCL Summer Academy on our  course blog: Enhancing creativity and innovation in my classroom and on the FCL website: A week full of creativity, innovation and joy of learning.


https://fclsummeracademy.wordpress.com

Dancing With Teachers In Milan

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On Saturday Bart and I gave a keynote on Global Networking at the SMILE conference in Milan. We were invited by Italian educators Mariella Brunazzi and Elena Fusar Poli, who organized the conference that marked the closing of their multinational Erasmus + project SMILE.

There were 300 educators from 8 countries at the conference. Our keynote was very interactive and involved a lot of activities that the audience had to do. We even made them dance and they greatly enjoyed it.

Padlet is now even more awesome!

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I just discovered that Padlet introduced some excellent new features which are definitely going to make  our teacher lives so much easier. Besides creating a Padlet as a blank page, it is now possible to choose from one of the eight different templates (BTW, more templates are about to come and what's more,  the kind Padlet folks will even create a new template if you tell them what you want!).

My absolute favorite template, one that I've been dreaming of for many many years is the interactive KWL chart! It's easy, it's user-friendly, it's intuitive and it takes just one click to create - simply put, it's perfect. And you can add as many columns as you wish!



The other templates that I'll no longer be able to teach without are Q&A, To Do List aka Kanban Board and Storyboard! Moodboard, Bookmarks, Video Playlist and Org Chart will come in handy too!



Another thing that Padlet recently introduced are formats! There are no layouts anymore (Stream, Freeform,…

Typeform - a nice tool for surveys, forms and quizzes

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On my Croatian blog The Fellowship of Twitter, I write about new tools that can be used in the classroom. Today I wrote about Typeform, a very nice, user-friendly and intuitive tools for creating forms, surveys and quizzes, but as  Wordpress.com is very restrictive regarding embeds, I embedded my sample Typeform here. You can read my post about Typeform here.





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