Monday, September 28, 2015

SA Youth Code Jam

This Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering for the 4th annual San Antonio Youth Code Jam. Organized by Debi Pfitzenmaier and volunteers from through the San Antonio tech community, this free event brought hundreds of children and their parents together to learn about various aspects of computer science and coding. Volunteers came from a variety of San Antonio technology companies, educational institutions and corporations.

My organization, Education Service Center - Region 20, hosted the event this year and it was a great experience for all involved! To everyone's relief our WiFi was more than up to the challenges and the Service Center facilities were perfect for the participants who got to self-select from among the stations.

Stations this year included:

Boolean Logic (using Minecraft)
Build Your Own Mini Network that Works!
C Programming
Code Combat
Construct Classic
Python (using Raspberry Pi)

Here are some of the pictures from the day's events. Thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers who made the event happen. Congratulations to Debi Pfitzenmaier and her team from SA Youth Code Jam for a great job!

Enjoy this article in The Rivard Report about the event!

Monday, August 10, 2015


Earlier this summer I received notification that I had been selected to become an Affiliate Trainer for Code.Org. In July, teachers from across the country travelled to Chicago for a training summit in order to prepare to lead training sessions throughout the country. Code.Org is committed to improving access to computer science education for all children, especially at the elementary level. In support of this mission, they sponsor free classes for elementary and middle school teachers, librarians and curriculum specialists who are committed to bringing coding instruction into their classrooms and libraries.

Here is Code.Org founder, Hadi Pavtovi, explaining why computer science is for everyone:

My first two classes have been for teachers and librarians from NEISD and Northside ISD in San Antonio.

Regardless of what subject you teach, computer science is foundational knowledge for all students in the 21st century. Incorporating it in your classroom will give your students a huge leg up. This is a subject the kids love learning!

With the help of, I am providing no cost, one-day workshops for elementary school teachers interested in teaching computer science. What's in a workshop?

In-person instruction, including an intro to computer science, pedagogy, overview of the online curriculum, teacher dashboard, and strategies for teaching “unplugged” classroom activities. Over 10,000 teachers have participated in a workshop and the majority say it’s the best professional development they've ever attended.

All costs are covered by! There is no charge for these workshops. You'll also receive (at no cost to you):
  • Printed curriculum guide
  • Certificate of completion
  • Classroom supplies for the unplugged lessons
  • Fun swag
If you are interested in scheduling a class for teachers at your school or at ESC-Region 20, please contact me!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Plickers and Images

Plickers announced Friday that they have added support for images! Now teachers can insert an image with each question in their Plickers library.

Only one image can be added per question, so if you need additional images, create a 'collage' of your labeled images using an iOS app such as Pixlr Express or website such as: (click on Collage). If you would like to see a demonstration as to how to use Pixlr, go to this posting and watch the video beginning at about the 47 second mark:

Once your images are ready to upload into Plickers, open the website, go to your Library, and either edit an existing question or create a new question, see the camera image? Click on that to add your image to the Plickers question! It's that easy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Special Formatting in Plickers

I had a teacher ask yesterday about whether she could include special formatting in Plickers questions in order to mimic the appearance of state test items - especially bold, underlining and italicizing of text.

Tested it and yes - basic HTML coding works in the questions (but not in answer choices)

Check out for great formative assessment tools in a classroom when students do not have devices!

Here are directions for how to insert HTML coding to change the appearance of your Plickers questions: