All posts by Doug Mawrey

Self Taught Programming

Hold on, this is going to be a long one.

When I decided I was interested in making games and programs, I was in elementary school. I started in Scratch, a relatively new program at the time that my dad found for me and helped me pick up.

I started in Scratch by simply messing around with the various scripts available. I built a myriad of different projects from a drawing tool, my first project, to mouse maze games and short RPG games. All of them were very simple, but by the time I had finished them all, I had a basic understanding of basic programming principles such as how if statements worked and what they are used for, what variables are, and how various problems would be solved conceptually.

Scratch works well as a kind of pseudo-like code, and it works as a perfect stepping board to a real programming language. From Scratch I moved to Flash and Action Script 2 with the hopes of making a flash game and putting it online. I followed various tutorials and picked up things little by little, and at one point I was tutored by Mr McGowan after school. During this time I built one game and one weird project, hangman was the game and a collection of random mouse cursors was the project. I built hangman with Mr McGowan but the strange mouse cursor project was my first attempt at Flash and I did it solo, following an online tutorial instead.

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Bibliography Tabbing in Google Docs

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1. Begin by highlighting all of the entries in your bibliography.

 

 

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2. Move your mouse up to the ruler above your paper. If you do not see this ruler, it can be activated in the menu under View > Show Ruler.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 9.23.55 AM3. Drag the blue triangle to the larger mark on the ruler half way between where it started in the gray section and the 1″ marker.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 9.24.53 AM4. Drag the top blue rectangle back 1/2″ to the left where it started, between the white and the gray.

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5. Voila! Your bibliography is now tabbed correctly.

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Editing Essays: The Easy Way

A quick tutorial on the different features of Google Drive, this tutorial shows the basics of how to edit an essay using the suggestion tool. The video shows how one user would go about editing his or her own essay as well as the steps that would be taken in order to share an essay with a friend to edit.

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CS in Education – Scratch Clubs

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An example of a powerpoint slide

Over the course of the last few years I have been teaching Scratch Clubs after school for students in the Middle School grades 6-8. At these clubs, students follow my powerpoint lesson and learn the basics of programming in MIT’s Scratch, a visual coding language designed to teach kids the basic practices of programming. My lessons bring students through from start to finish on a simple game, and in the past I have covered a racing game, asteroids clone, and space invaders clone.

The actual powerpoint contains an explanation of what needs to be done on each slide as well as screenshots that show any code or other functions that need to be performed. The slides are accompanied by a verbal explanation of what is being done as well as troubleshooting that is done by myself and two friends who come to help make sure the class goes smoothly.

The classes usually run for a little over an hour once a week after school for a series of 8 weeks. Attendance for the class has grown over the last few years and rose to nearly 20 students for the fall class this year.

I think this class is a great opportunity for Middle School students. Many students do not get any exposure to programming until at least High School, and this class often sparks the interest of students who may not have known that programming is something that they may be interested in pursuing.

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Evernote in the Classroom

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Evernote is the notebook for the internet connected generation. Its use for organization is its primary draw, and tightly integrated features allow for use wherever you are.

Evernote works as a virtual binder. Inside, organizational sections can be created under the name of Notebooks. Inside of notebooks, you can create documents, upload pictures, and save web links. Evernote can be accessed through the app, web interface, and desktop application.

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A collage of the different Evernote user interfaces

The iPhone app is well polished and is my preferred interface, followed by the website and lastly the desktop application. All applications allow you a similar feature set, and information is synced seamlessly between devices.

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Google’s Search Operators

Many people know how to search Google. Its easy, right? Just navigate to Google.com and enter what you would like to learn about. What if I told you that the way you have been searching is wrong. How? Well, by using Google’s Search Operators, you can more accurately and more easily find the information that you are looking for.

Say you want to find a line from a song, speech, book, or other line of text. You may not remember the title, but you go and search: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Wrong. Now, lets try it with Google’s Search Operators. Using quotes around your search query tells Google to search for that phrase in its entirety. Lets try it again: “it was the best of times it was the worst of times”. Much better, now you are searching more accurately. Continue reading

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Educreations Tutorials for iPad

itunes-app-store-logo1Educreations Interactive Whiteboard is a tool that students and teachers can use to create lessons using images, text, drawing, and voice. It is a free app that is easy to use, and allows you to record yourself writing and speaking. It may be most useful for teachers who want to make tutorials for subjects such as math that students can follow along at home. It is easy to use, however an account is needed to make tutorials, but a Google Account can be used. You are able to add photos to draw on as well as pause and play recording, allowing the user to make more complicated tutorials. Continue reading

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