Week 6: Creating a Simple Calculator

This week I attempted to code a game with my GUI and Tkinter using the code that I have created in a different week with the text-based game that I created.  I discovered that this was actually A LOT more advanced than I had anticipated. However, the learning gained through this process was valuable.

One of my struggles last week was to figure out how to make buttons disappear when they are clicked.  That was a success.  This was due to the online forum Stack Exchange which allows people to ask questions about their code.

I am currently finding it difficult to take my code and apply the attack and heal buttons to execute the math equations that I want it to do.  This has turned out to be the current delay of the game.

I seem to be stuck in a cycle of trying to figure out why something is NOT working, as well as trying to figure out what something IS working.   In coding, there is something called Rubber Duck debugging. This involves talking through code to your rubber duck in the hopes that talking through your problem we can understand what the issue is.  As strange and silly as this may sound, this could be used in a lot of other applications.  Imagine a situation where we can encourage students to decipher and problem solve by taking the problem, decomposing the problem into smaller pieces.  Recognize patterns, filter information, and organize steps in order to solve problems. By talking through problems to my rubber duck (yes, I have one on my bookshelf next to my computer) it allows me to troubleshoot by myself, then I can take my issues to the next level asking for help. Imagine if we trained students to use this level of thinking and independence? This way of thinking also is the foundation of Computational Thinking.

However, in my frustration, I decided to take on another challenge.  Building a simple calculator.  Using the GeeksforGeeks website, I was able to discover a tool that walking me step by step into creating a working calculator.  Now, this calculator that I have created could be improved.  And I feel as I may switch gears in the future to see how I could implement something such as brackets, exponents to add on to my calculator.  My hope is that I can take these skills from this activity and apply them to complete my game in the future.

Below is my video that talks about the calculator that I have created this week using Tkinter and Python:


Week 6: Creating a GUI (Graphic User Interface on Python)

About GUIs:

This week I focused on learning about Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs), what they are and how to use them.  According to Computer Hope,  GUI us a system of interactive components such as icons, and other graphical objects that help a user interact with computer software.  A GUI is often pronounced as G-U-I or as “gooey”.

Everyone who has operated a computer has seen a GUI.  A GUI can look like the following:









The following video Crash Course video explains all about GUIs.

Learning Project using Python on my Raspberry Pi to Create a GUI:

This week was all about learning how to create a GUI within Python.  I used many different tools such as the website LikeGeeks. This website broke down all the components of GUI’s and how I was able to add widgets such as text, buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, images, menus.

Below are some of my creations for the week.

This photo highlights the code required to create a Combo box, a menu that provides a dropdown with a list.

The following shows a label, “Hello”, and a button “Click Me”.









The upcoming week I hope to take my new GUI knowledge and apply it to the game that I have created prior.  Instead of using the command line, the user will hopefully be able to interact with the screen to play the game.

On first attempt, this was proven to be difficult as I found that it is difficult to make the button provide new information and then disappear, something that sounds so simple I tried to complete for well over an hour and a half.  Hopefully by using resources such as stack overflow, an online forum, will help me troubleshoot some of my issues.

11 Reasons to Use OER Commons in Your Classroom

Definition of OER:

According to OER commons, an OER is “Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

What is OER Commons:

OER Commons is a free digital library of resources for teachers.  OER is a part of the worldwide movement that states, “Human right to access high-quality education.” Teachers can search for resources or use the Open Author tool to create lessons or documents.

Open resources are always free, but free resources do not always mean open.  For example, OER commons explains that free resources may introduce fees to access these resources.  Furthermore, free resources that may not be modified, adapted or redistributed are not considered to be OER.

Instructional Videos on How to Use OER Commons Effectively

ISKME has curated a list of How-To videos on navigating OER Commons.  This list provides teachers with the necessary videos to navigate the 30,000 resource database.

OER Commons Connecting with Each Other To Provide Cross-Curricular Learning Experiences

Why Should You Use OER Commons?

1.  Saved or shared through Google Classroom.

OER Commons allows you to create your lessons within their platform and then transfer the lessons, modules or resources to your Google Classroom.

2.  Can search by education standards (Currently only common core)

While searching for resources within OER Commons it allows the user to filter resources through searching by specific standards. Currently, you can only search by the standards used in the United States, but educators in Canada may find it useful to filter to certain standards that match to their outcomes.

3.  Can search and filter by subject area, education level, material type, language, and provider.

Due to the volume of resources that are found on OER Commons, it is important that you filter your resources the best that you can.  As it takes time to go through all the resources available.

4.  1000s of resources make it crucial to filter out resources in order to find quality resources.

OER Commons features over 30,000 resources that educators can use to meet their classroom needs.  As said previously, be sure to filter, and use the user rating to find resources that are quality resources rated by other educators.

5.  Promotes Collaboration between educators

One of the 21st century learning skills is collaboration.  OER Commons allows educators to collaborate with one another through the creation of groups.  If educators are promoting collaboration with their students, OER provides opportunities for educators to collaborate together.

6.  Educators are able to adapt for their own as the resources are through the public domain.

OER Commons should be the first stop shop for teachers looking for resources.  OER Commons allows educators to adapt their content to the needs of their students.  The ability to use their built-in lesson editor provides an easy way to alter lesson plans and resources.

7.  Access to textbooks, multimedia, and research-based practices for free.

Not only are their lesson plans available for use, but there is access to textbooks, multimedia resources, research-based practices for free.  These resources provide educators with additional resources to supplement the learning already in the classroom.

8.  Keep information current, by adapting information people can keep their information current and up to date.

Due to the ability to adapt the information in OER Commons many resources are fairly current and up to date. It is important that we are providing students with relevant information.

9.  You can take training and PD through ISKME, the group that created OER commons. View webinars and other resources.

OER Commons provides PD training and offers webinars about their services in addition to learning more about Open Educational resources in general.  They pride their PD as educators teaching educators about OER.

10.  Build your own modules, resources and lesson builder

The ability to create and share modules, resources, and lessons is built into the program itself. This provides an easy way for educators to share what they have created with other teachers.

11.  View collections of resources such as STEAM, Ancient Civilizations, and various educational textbooks.

OER Commons has curated resources around popular subjects such as STEAM, Ancient Civilizations, and countless others.  This provides educators with easy searching by providing fully indexed collections of resources.  To find exactly what educators want and need.


Week 5: Minecraft Selfies

This week in my learning project I decided to use a Raspberry Pi.  A  Raspberry Pi is a small computer that promotes teaching basic computer science in schools.

This has been my first project with the Raspberry Pi.   There are numerous tutorials online that will work through how to code using a variety of different lessons.  This week I decided to look into one called Minecraft Selfies, as I was inspired by Meeno Rami’s guest appearance last week.  I decided to buy a Raspberry Pi camera module and experiment with Minecraft Pi.  Minecraft has its own free version on the Raspberry Pi.  This plays as normal Minecraft, but I can add some code to the game.

Check out what I did this week!

Sharing and Open Education: The Why, The Where, The How

What is Open Education?

Sharing is caring. Over the last week, we have discussed Open Education.  To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what the concept of open education really was.  However, I soon learned that open education is essentially is allowing everyone access, regardless of barriers, access to quality educational materials leading to quality education.

Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

Open Educational Resources

According to opensource.com, Open Educational Resources (OERs) are learning materials that can be modified and enhanced because the creators have given permission to do so.  This can include anything from presentation slides, podcasts, syllabi, lesson plans, lecture videos, maps, worksheets, and textbooks.  These resources waive their copyright with legal tools such as Creative Commons.

Wanna Work Together? from Creative Commons on Vimeo.

 “If teaching is sharing, without sharing there is no education”

I have not been a teacher in an environment where sharing was not a thing.  As a fairly new educator, I have grown up and have relied on using other people’s ideas around everything educational.  The ability to access information is easier than ever, thus the strong connection to social media and open education.  Dean Shareski highlights the main obstacle when it comes to sharing in education.  Many teachers struggle with the “Who, where and how to share”.  This provided me with a bit of self-reflection as becoming an educator in this world I know where to find quality resources.  I know and understand the importance of why we have to share.  I also know how to share my resources with other teachers on a global level.

  Why Should We Share?

I believe that teachers became teachers to see growth, improvement, and success among students.  Thus it makes sense if we have a common goal that we help each other reach this goal.  Often times when we are sharing resources we only share these resources internally within our own building.  This is wonderful, but how can we share these resources and materials with teachers in other divisions/districts, or globally?

Below is a project that I was co-teaching with another teacher.  This project was remixed and inspired by another teacher, Brian Aspinall. The ability for me to share my learning with other teachers has inspired others to potentially remix what I have created for their classrooms.  I had the privilege to listen to Brian share his knowledge in Saskatoon at last year’s IT Summit.  Through this conference and through Brian sharing on his blog, he has not only encouraged teachers like me to try awesome projects, but through his blog, he is sharing other amazing ideas revolving around coding, and educational technology and thus continuing the cycle of sharing.


Where to Share?

There are so many places for educators to share ideas and resources.  Twitter and filtering using hashtags. Check out The Best 100 Education Hashtags for all Educators on Twitter. Twitter is one of the places I share resources, find resources, vet resources, filter resources and then curate resources.  I have begun a new form of sharing resources through Wakelet.  Wakelet allows me to curate online information so it is easier to find and share.

Dean Shareski highlights in his video Sharing: The Moral Imperative the use of blogging.  He discusses that the stagnancy of blogging starts to correspond to the stagnancy of your teaching.  I would argue that stagnancy or sharing through any means leads to the stagnancy of teaching.  I believe this because, by sharing we are able to reflect on our own teaching practices, we are able to vet and filter resources to better ourselves as educators.

How to Share?

Educators in some sense have to take a leap of faith into the technology world. Many educators are not comfortable sharing their work.  However, I also believe if we are able to share and educate educators where they can find quality OERs and content then they would be more willing to share their often coveted resources.  Resources such as blogs, Twitter, and even division websites like NESD’s Curriculum Corner provide teachers with opportunities to learn how to share.

Edutopia shared an article Sharing Your Best Work With Other Teachers.  This article highlights eight ways teachers can share.

  1. Create a Ted-Ed Lesson
  2. Post a Video to a Teaching Channel (Post your videos to YouTube!)
  3. Upload a Lesson Plan to the Internet (For free of course)
  4. Start a Blog
  5. Host a Podcast, or contribute to someone else’s
  6.  Host a Webinar
  7. Post to Twitter
  8. Serve remotely on a Teacher Advisory Committee

By sharing resources, teachers work together, form a collective and are able to reflect on their teaching and learning.

The Take-Away

Educators are stronger as a collective.  Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Saskatoon that featured John Hattie.  Hattie has done extensive research in education focusing on performance indicators, models of measurement and evaluation of teaching and learning.  One of the things that I learned is that Collective Teacher Efficacy is one of the effects that relate directly to high levels of student achievement.  Collective Efficacy has a mean effect size of 1.57, THIS IS HUGE!  The graphic to the right highlights what works best in raising Student Achievement. An important note is that: 0.40 effect size is equal to one year worth of academic material over the course of one school year.

John Hattie – Visible Learning Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) according to John Hattie

How does this relate to sharing? I believe that sharing plays a big role in Collective Teacher Efficacy.  We need to collaborate, we need to reflect, and we need to share with each other.  If all teachers had access to quality educational content without barriers, and educators had the ability to collaborate with the materials, teachers can and will make a positive difference.

Week 3: My First In-depth Program, the Twitter-Bot

This week I spent the majority of my time using Sololearn and Py to further my knowledge of Python.  However, I did end up finding a YouTube video that walks through how to create a Twitter-Bot.  This Twitter-Bot’s goal was to look up a hashtag, like tweets in order to gain followers.

Talk about digital citizenship…

I thought it was kind of a cool idea at first, but after reflecting on it for a minute I thought that this ties into my previous post titled, The Ups and Downs of Social Media in the Life of Me.  This creation that I attempted to complete in the following video was aiming to create a larger Twitter following, which feeds into the narrative that more Twitter followers the better, more popular, etc.  Near the end of the video, the creator also said that many people do this and sell it to people to become an Instagram Influencer.  This provided me with a lot to think about.

My creation

I went ahead to see if I could get this Twitter-Bot to work for myself.  Needless to say, part of it worked and part of it didn’t.  This is perfectly okay, as I am not sure about where Twitter stands on using automation in Twitter (it is probably not very popular).

Week Two in Learning the Language of Python

This week I have focused a lot on using the apps to support me using Python.  I believe that I have learned enough of the rules/syntax of Python that I can start actually diving into coding something a little bit larger.

In the following video, I take a look at the tools that I have been using so far in my Python journey.  SoloLearn, Py, Udemy, and Arduino.

Please check out my video.  Or if you have any ideas tips, tricks that you have used to learn coding please reach out. Next week I plan on focusing on using YouTube to create some cool resources.

Engaging Students Using Pear Deck

In my teaching, I often used PowerPoint to guide my instruction.  Looking back this really was not good teaching practice as it encouraged me to be at the front of the classroom lecturing.  Let’s face it, the standard PowerPoint presentation is not the most engaging way for us to teach our students. Many times, presentations focus on delivering knowledge to students.  However, this doesn’t need to be the case anymore with Pear Deck!

What is Pear Deck?

Pear Deck is a freemium tool that is an add-on for Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint that includes interactive slides that will let every student participate in questions or prompts right on their own device. Pear Deck allows teachers to view live time students’ progress within the private Teacher Dashboard.  It features a student-paced mode in which students can work through their presentation on their own.  After the students have completed the presentation, teachers can export the results to Google Sheets.

I have heard about Pear Deck, but didn’t give it much thought as much of the functionality is through Google.  Low-and-behold, they also have Microsoft integration with Microsoft Teams and Powerpoint.  This could be a game-changer as my school division is currently a Microsoft based division.

How does Pear Deck Make Learning Visible?

Pear Deck allows for teachers to enhance their presentations by allowing student involvement within the presentations they create.  Think Kahoot, built into Google Slides/PowerPoint.

This is an example of a draggable template

Teachers can include interactive slides that the students can engage with on their own devices this includes:

  • text-based,
  • multiple-choice,
  • number,
  • engage with a website,
  • draw responses
  • drag icons on the page.

This is an example of a critical thinking template

These questions are great quick, low-level Bloom’s Taxonomy questions that provide formative assessment for students.  However,  Pear Deck encourages teachers to move beyond this.  They also have premade question templates to use in any subject area, specific to Critical Thinking and Social-Emotional Learning.   The teacher can keep the work private and anonymous, or students can login with their school Microsoft or Google account.

I wanted to tap into some of my PLN on Twitter to see how they are using Pear Deck in their classrooms.  I believe getting responses on Twitter, I find that I have more success in asking in small communities, such as #ditchbook, or #codebreaker, and not so much in the big realm of #edchat and #edtech.

Pear Deck allows the educator to be able to circulate the classroom.  Again teachers need to be working with students.  Thus this is extremely handy and we do not need to be tied to the front of the room.

By providing students with the opportunity to work through the presentation themselves, and still being able to engage with the presentation allows teachers to not have to deliver the standard presentation.  We can assign this to a group of students, and students may have to work through this in a small-group instruction setting.  Students can also complete this not in the classroom. If students are away, they could still engage with the classroom and work at their own pace.

Sometimes in teaching, we need to just teach students content and knowledge.  The struggle is to engage our students in the content we are trying to teach.   Pear Deck provides the interaction that allows them to apply their knowledge from the presentation, within the presentation itself.

Matt Miller, author of the book Ditch that Textbook, Ditch that Homework, and Don’t Ditch that Tech responded to my Twitter providing a link to his blog that features excellent tips and tricks on how to apply Pear Deck in many different class settings.   I recommend to check out that site (He also has a link for free Premium Pear Deck for 3 months.)  In his blog post, 20 ways to use Pear Deck to engage students, he provides a rundown of how Pear Deck works, ninja Pear Deck tricks, and 20 ways to apply Pear Deck in many different classroom settings. Within his post, he has linked to many different documents regarding how to apply Pear Deck in all different subject areas.

How Would I use Pear Deck in the Classroom?

I would use Pear Deck in the classroom in a variety of ways:

  1. Providing student voice and engagement in lecture types of lessons.
  2. At the start of a lesson using Pear Deck for retrieval questions, to engage students at the start of the room.  (Shared by Michael Williams on Twitter @willowtuits)
  3. Using Pear Deck as a small-group instruction tool where students can work through a presentation and I can view results in realtime.
  4. Provide an opportunity for all students’ voices to be heard in a safe space.  Students are anonymous.  It shows students that it is okay to make mistakes.
  5. It provides a quick formative assessment for me. That can direct my teaching and whether or not I need to go back to reteach.

To see more amazing ways teachers are using Pear Deck in the classroom check out  Amazing #PearDeck Ideas! on Twitter.

Mindblowing Highlights

I wanted to highlight two things that I thought were mindblowing when I was researching Pear Deck.  The first being Pear Deck’s Flashcard Factory.   This is the most engaging flashcard creation tool that I have ever seen.

Now I know that some learners may not find flashcards beneficial for learning.  But the ability to teach each other, provide visual and textual responses, and then vet the responses as a class is pretty darn neat. This tool is a great review and study tool that will benefit many learners in the classroom.  Be sure to check this out!

The second awesome resource that I stumbled upon was that Pear Deck teamed up with Google to provide interactive lessons for Google’s Be Internet Awesome Curriculum.  This curriculum is excellent and relevant for middle years students in navigating our digital world.  But it has got a whole lot better with the Pear Deck integration.  Check out the Be Internet Awesome interactive presentations, by downloading them to your Google Drive account.

Bottom Line

I believe that this tool will certainly engage students, more so than viewing a normal slide presentation.  However, Pear Deck would be even better if they provided a simple way to provide feedback to students.  However, for a teacher who would use this to further my instruction based on the results, I would use this to enhance my teaching and my gathering of formative assessment.  To view what other teachers think of Pear Deck be sure to check out Common Sense Education’s reviews as well.

Let me know if you have used Pear Deck in your classroom!