Monday, November 24, 2014

Instructional Technology & Digital Learning Update For November 1st -7th 2014 Andover Innovation Lab & Help Desk

Parth Valecha Andover Innovation Lab Student Inducted Into National Honor Society At Andover High School

I had the opportunity to attend the national honor Society induction because one of my former students that I had at the Andover innovation lab had selected me as a teacher who had inspired them. Parth Valecha  had worked on a business project last year during his time at the Andover Innovation Lab which combined bluetooth technology for headphones and sports like swimming or boating. Parth and I had many in-depth conversations on his business plan and how he could more narrowly target his market.  It was an honor that he had invited me to this important event and selected me as a teacher.

Release Of Our Help Desk Promotional Video
With the editing of Dan Brennan and the assitance of some of our help desk students we have been able to produce a video which outlines the work we do at the Andover innovation lab & Help Desk.
Check it out below!

Math Department Head Working On Blog With Bryce Corbitt

This week Bryce Corbitt from the Andover innovation lab also began working on the Math Department website with Math Program Coordinator Katherine Richards. They were able to determine a layout that they would like to use with Google sites and also begin to conceptualize some of the content that will be included on the site.  Bryce is been a great asset to the team this year and I know he will do a great job working with Ms. Richards.  This project will probably take the next couple months to complete and will become one of his projects. Bryce has been a great resource to several teachers with his great attitude and approach to helping.

Homework Document for Google Drive

In the process of trying to simplify how to add homework in a streamlined way and Sherrett with parents and students using Aspen I have been showing the use of a Google doc with a shorten link.  On this Google doc I create a table and organize the tables according to the days and weeks of the school day this is an opportunity to keep it consistently organized homework schedule on a live document that teachers do not have to go into Aspen to edit.  This is one of the huge benefits of Google Docs and using shortened personalize the links in order to share materials.  By being able to edit the doc you can consistently update the homework assignments with those who view the consistent link located on the Aspen pages.

Best Practices for Sharing & Editing With Google Drive

I recently started having conversations with both the English and Social Studies Department members about creating a series of best practices for the use of Google Docs and the editing of longer papers.  This process requires an in-depth look at what are the best ways of using the commenting features, sharing features and add-ons that are available with Google Apps for Education.

One of the very cool add-ons that’s available is the Easy Bib for Google docs.  This add on enables students to select a piece of text in their paper and then search for a source for citation on the add one. 

The add on locates the source and adds the citation to an area at the bottom of their page and organizes the citations for the student.  This tool ultimately saves a lot of time and helps keep citations organized within a document.

Flubaroo Training-Tech Byte

This past week I conducted a training for the use of Flubaroo at the Andover Public Schools Tech Byte training. Flubaroo is a great add-on to assist with grading quizzes that are you created with the Google Apps for Education Forms documents.  I have created some tutorial videos that I will link to which shows you how to get started with using Flubaroo and how it can improve the way in which you streamline your quizzes that you provided classes. View Part 1 Of My Video Series On Flubaroo.

Pixlr Tool as Web Based Photoshop Alternative
This past week I was able to recommend the Pixlr tool to our web design teacher Mike Messina.  He was looking for a web-based alternative to Photoshop that allowed him to create graphics of different resolution and size and also enabled the ability to add different types of text and layer styles.  This tool is a great web-based tool that allows you to download any of the images that you create as well as upload images into use within the interface.  Definitely check this tool out if you're on a computer that you're not used to working on our really just need a great web-based option and don’t have Photoshop.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Glitches Everywhere

This week I ran into quite a few glitches in the game. Whether it be problems with the victory screen images or issues with some of the character animations. Some of this I have been able to fix but other aspects I have had quite a difficult time trying to solve. Going into this project I knew I would run into these kind of things, but to be honest I have found a lot more than I initially expected. It's not to big of an issue though seeing as I have fixed most of them, but there are definitely a few that I need to fix still.

Besides those few (many) issues, everything seems to be going smoothly. I think I have made enough progress to say I am officially out of the pre-alpha stage and have moved onto alpha. Seeing as most of the roster is done and the glitches are (hopefully) on the way out. Once I have all the characters added and balanced into the game, I will move onto the beta stages where I will just have to refine the existing aspects of playable characters and hopefully finish up the AI for the arcade mode. In other news I did finish up the co-op modes such as four player team battles and 3 vs. 3 battles. Last post I said I would include some video content of the game. So here it is. Both these are against another human player. Next post I will show some AI battles.                                                                        

A site for sore eyes

Last time we checked in, I had just started my new project. Now, I have gotten very far. I finished almost everything on my todo list, and my site has graduated from alpha to beta. I also decided to get paid hosting, which included a free domain, Everything is going really well. I'm redoing my Google+ and Gallery pages, and my presentation at GDG Boston was a success.

My site looks much better than it did before, and most of what I need to do now is fix everything on Firefox and Safari. I have migrated to Polymer 0.5.1, which brought a lot of breaking changes. I also cleaned up my code, and it is much easier to understand and maintain.

The End is Near


     Since my last blog post, I have finally finished my codecademy adventure through JavaScript. It was a long and hard process but I believe that it was worth my trouble. I now know how to code with boo leans, functions, for loops, while loops, if/else statements in JavaScript. Eli has been nice enough to explain to me the differences between JavaScript and Java. I have learned that they are very similar, but there are one or two very drastic differences. I needed this explanation because i will be coding in Java and not JavaScript when I start programming my first app on Android Studio. I very much enjoyed this process because it opened up my mind to code. After I finish my project I will continue to code throughout my high school experience and codecademy will be another stepping stone to different coding languages.

     I have also finally started to work with Android Studio. I have started to take the tutorial which will eventually flourish into my final project, which is to build a hello world app. So far I have already run a very basic form of my future app. Eli was once again nice enough to let me connect his phone to my laptop and run the app. The result is the picture you see at the bottom. It was a very basic pop up app that simply displayed the worlds Hello World! I hope to be able to have changing colors, and instead of hello world, i would like it to print out hello(insert name here) for each individual user of the given phone. I look forward to completing the tutorial in the upcoming weeks, and showing you all my final app.

Ari Primak, Master of the Universe

This week, I read more of the programming e-book Mr. Downs supplied me with. I also followed its example to make a Java program that displays a simple sentence using arguments.
To go into more specifics, I learned this week that arguments and variables are different. I surmise that arguments are good for defining things that rarely change, while variables are, on the contrary, good for defining things that change frequently. I'm not really sure when to utilize each of them, but I look forward to learning more about the differences between arguments and variables and the ideal situations to make use of each of their unique strengths.
Below you'll find a detailed description of what I did this week, accompanied by some skillfully taken screenshots created by yours truly (buttons are hard, man).
Here's the entirety of my program. If I don't set any arguments, it gives me an error, like so:

If I want it to run without an error, I need to fill in 3 arguments (One for argument[0], one for argument[1], and one for argument[2]). For example, if I set the arguments as "quick", "brown", and "slow grey", it will instead output this message:

If I so desired, I could change those 3 arguments to any words I wanted. The fox's very reality bows to my will! And he better watch out... or who knows what could happen?

From what I've learned this week, I surmise that arguments are good for defining things that rarely change, while variables are, on the contrary, good for defining things that change frequently. I look forward to learning more about the differences between arguements and variables, and the ideal situations to use each.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I got hacked

So... this is a bit late but my k12 account was recently having some issues so i wasn't able to make a post last week. But here it is now. Better late than never am I right? So as probably all of the other class posts said we recently went on a field trip to the MassCUE convention at Gillette Stadium. It was a fantastic experience because I don't get to go on trips like that very often. I can speak for most when I say we all enjoyed ourselves. By the end of the trip we all had a memorable moment to take back with us to Andover.

Seeing as most of my other class mates summed the trip up pretty well, I'm just going to move on to discussing my project. At this point I am in a relatively constant cycle. I create and add some new characters, balance them, and work out any glitches that remain with the added pieces. The game is definitely more than half way done at this point. I have even added a early stage of AI into the game for arcade/single player mode. It is still a bare bones game mode as of now, but in time it will be fully functioning. I still have some plans of adding a final boss for the game and getting the team modes to work. Other than that and a few other technical issues there is not much to update on. I just got to keep moving forward in the development and it will be complete before I know it. But for now it's going very smoothly and my classmates really enjoy playing it too. Below are a few pictures of new animations and other general character code. In my next post I would like to add a video into the blog.

Will Owen

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Andover Innovation Lab & Instructional Technology Update Andover High School Week Of October 27th- 31st 2014

What a great week to be back after a rejuvenating MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium! At Andover High School we are really in the flow of integrating Google Sites, Google Classroom and a variety of other technology tools into the classroom.

Class Charts Seating Chart App
 I will start off with a share that I got from researching the ability to create class seating charts online with World Language teacher Jen Deschenes. The Chrome Application which is an application available in the Chrome web store on the Chrome Browser named "Class Charts" allows you to create web based seating charts for your classroom. It is simple to use and will help you create multiple class charts in a jiffy.

Health/Physical Education Department
On Monday I had the opportunity to work with the entire Health/Physical Education Department on the creation of their Google Accounts,what it means for them and how they can begin to create,share and work with students using the tools of Google Drive.

They were a great receptive group and many had great questions about getting started in simple ways. My suggestion for many of them was just using a single doc for their continuing update of homework assignments.

Mike Messina
Diagramming for Game Development
In the Digital Learning course Game Design Michael Messina is developing lessons which encourage students to look at the format in which games are developed with HTML5 for the web. Michael Messina has engaged students on a variety of project development concepts in both Web Design and Game Development and we are excited to see his projects through the semester.

Here is Michael outlining the pixel dimensions for students of a web interface of a game.

Karen Stevens
Karen Stevens Entrepreneurship course has been delving into the creation of business plans for their projects. Karen has been developing rubrics which will help students envision their business projects in terms of the key concepts of a business plan. The students have been excited to work on their own ideas and problem solve their concept development.

Dan Brennan & Bryce Work to update iPads
The help desk has been busy updating the iPad cart for the Social Studies department and preparing their formative projects for review. Be sure to check put their most recent blog writing which includes their perspectives on the MassCUE conference and their project work.

Librarian John Berube fresh off MassCUE has been suggesting some great new tools for staff to use in addition to the many research tools such as Ebrary and Boston Public Library tools he already administers. One tool he found was the presentation tool Emaze which can be alternative to other presentation tools such as Goolge Slides, Powerpoint and Prezi. Emaze's features include a very graphic interface for content and many nice templates.

Google Classroom Interface
Tom Powers has continued to power through the use of Google Classroom engaging his students with
the assignments and the ability to submit them online. He has pioneered the use of the platform at the high school and has begun using the high school lab as a tool with classroom to submit the students audio recording as assignments through the use of web tools such as Vocaroo which enables students to record their voice online and send a link to Mr. Powers in Google Classroom.

Jen with her Memes
My week ended with a great meeting with Jen Deschenes on fine tuning who has included the use of student created memes in her classroom to have students quickly form sentences using a "meme" app on their phones. Memes are small photos with text added to give context or create communication.

Jen is also using Google Drive to store student created audio files for quick sharing within folders on her drive.