Friday, December 23, 2016


The Windsor-Essex District School Board has been buzzing these past few weeks with students engaging in Hour of Code activities.  The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. 

Keep reading to enjoy some of the highlights.

Immaculate Conception and St. Louis Elementary School
Shared by: Jacqui Gaffan

A total of 15 classes from grades JK-5 at Immaculate Conception and St. Louis participated in the Hour of Code between December 5-9. We discussed important terms such algorithms and debugging, and got right to coding. The students were so excited and dove right into using blocks to code various games such as Minecraft (student fav), Moana, Angry Birds, and Flappy Bird. When they were stuck on which blocks to use, they did an excellent job at problem-solving with a partner, and never gave up. They were also pumped to receive certificates for their hard work. Students at both schools loved coding so much that we will definitely go beyond the Hour of Code and explore other coding opportunities in the new year.

Some comments from students and teachers.
"I love coding, wish we could do this every computer class."
"I like using the blocks to help the Angry Bird move to get the pig, it's so easy!"
"I want to do this when I grow up."
"I wish I learned this when I was a kid." - Teacher

"I think it's amazing what you are doing with these kids, what a great way to move them into the future of technology." - Teacher

St. James 
Shared by: Vince Fracia

Students in Mr. Fracia's Grade 3 class led the way at St. James.  Once they were finished their hour, they assisted in other classes as well.  

After completing the Hour of Code, students at St. James are continuing their learning using Scratch.

H.J. Lassaline
Shared by: Joumana Tawil


St. Mary's French Immersion
Shared by: Jeremy Schiller

Thursday, December 15, 2016

First Lego League - Windsor Regional Competition

There was a lot of excitement at St. Clair College as the First Lego League held their Windsor regional competition on December 3 and 4th. 45 schools competed from Windsor-Essex County. Among the participants were 12 schools from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.  

These include: Cardinal Carter Middle School, H.J. Lassaline, Holy Cross, Holy Name, L.A Desmarais, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Sacred Heart, St. Anthony, St. Pius X, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Joseph and St. William.

This year the theme was Animal Allies.  Students were invited to roar, bark, quack or squeak as this year the competition was all about furry, feathered and finned friends.  Each team demonstrated their coding, creative and collaboration skills.  Each team was judged on their robot design, FLL core values and their solution to an issue related to human/ animal interactions.

The WECDSB is excited to share that the following 4 teams will be advancing to the provincial championship which will be held in Waterloo on February 4 2017:

Highlights from our four teams that will be heading to regionals:

Cardinal Carter Middle School
Robo Chicks Cardinal/Leamington Livewires
(Teacher:/Coaches: David Kostanjevec, Ida Ricci-Minaudo, Rima Mastronardi)

As a new school, this robotics experience was cited by our team members as a unifying opportunity to meet new friends. Both teams put countless hours before school, after school and weekends getting ready for the big competition. The boys team won the 1st place champions award.

The girls team placed 3rd in addition to winning a presentation award. Both teams now advance to the provincial championship at the University of Waterloo. We’re very proud of these kids and the hard work they continue to put in.

H. J. Lassaline Lightning

(Teacher Coach: Carrie Gagnier/2nd Coach: Jeff Gagnier)

Lassaline competed for the first time this year, so we were a rookie team and did not know what to expect. The students spent every lunch recess and after school to learn and perfect their performance.

Our team was the first team in Ontario to complete the Animal Conservation Mission. We placed 2nd overall and are off to Waterloo to compete on February 4th. Our team's motto, "We're all in this together". ​

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Master Builders
(Teacher Coach: Brian Angus)

We competed Saturday and enjoyed the day.  Our team had many failures and successes throughout the day, but ultimately ended up doing very well.

The student's project was selected as the Most Innovative Solution.  We also qualified for the Provincial West qualifier in Waterloo for Feb. 4th. 2017.

Our highlight has to be the surprise 80 points our robot earned during the competition. (Special thanks to Lassaline here) This truly put us over the top.

Coding Craze @ Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School

This week, the entire student body at Notre Dame Elementary School, JK - Grade 8,  participated in Hour of Code activities.   When I stopped in to check out all the excitement, I quickly realized that Coding at Notre Dame was much more than an activity, it is a movement.  In addition to coding with their Grade ½ and Grade 8 class, I had the pleasure of spending time with two members of their Coding Club, Antonio and Gabriel. These two coders blew me away with their knowledge, passion and ability to create and share games online.  I encourage you to take some time to read their journey below.

Notre Dame Coding Club
When we first announced coding club we had a lot of students interested.  During coding club we all go into the Hub and we get devices and start working.  Some kids are working in, some play on Lightbot and some of us are making games.  

The coding club meets once a week, but we like to come as often as we can.  

Last year Mr. Hooper and Ms. Ouellette put out a Game/App Creation Contest for the Coding Club.  We (Antonio, Gabriel, Hunter and Massimo) not only made a game, we made an entire gaming site, called Arcade Mania. We created games called Tap Band, Brick Breaker, Pong and Tappy Road. We modelled our games after existing games, but this year we made our own from scratch.  

We created a survey to see how people like our games and what their favourite games are.  Our survey currently shows Tappy Road is our most popular game and our least popular is Brick Breaker.  We would appreciate it if you could try out our games and take our survey.

My favourite game is the Pizza Simulator. I spent a lot of time making it and it is one of our newer games.  I like this game because it looks nice, it has music in the background and is fun to play.  People who play this game get to make pizzas. They earn money from each pizza they make and can use it to build their restaurant.  

My favourite game is Santa’s Christmas Adventure.  For this game you drive Santa through the air and drop presents into chimneys.  You have a certain amount of presents that you can deliver within 90 seconds.  The game ends when you run out of time, you run out of presents or you crash into a house.

I learned to be patient and a better problem solver because when something in a game doesn’t work, you have to keep trying to fix it instead of giving up.

Antonio, Gabriel, Massimo
I’ve learned something new as I never knew how apps games worked.  Now I can make simple games, websites and I hope to learn more in the future.  

I would suggest other schools have coding clubs because it is a good opportunity for students to try something new and different.  If all of the schools did coding then we could connect school and have game making competitions.


I would recommend a coding club as it helps to teach kids math, to be patient and problem solvers.  It also teaches us how to work better in groups especially when you get together to make games like we did.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Global Maker Day / Cardboard Carnival

Global Maker Day / Cardboard Carnival

in Mrs. Sidi's Grade 3 Class

** this blog post has been written by Mrs. Sidi's Grade 3 students**

We were doing genius hour one Friday and we watched Caine’s arcade video.  We thought that was pretty cool. We decided one day in November that if you make a game or toy out of cardboard you could bring it in and everybody would go around and get to try your game.  We set the date for November 24th.

In the meantime Mrs. Clement came in to visit and tell us about Global Maker Day.  Mrs. Clement brought in about a million boxes and we got into groups and made games out of them.  

My game started out to be a creeper but the green paper wouldn't cover it so we made the a random game covered in green paper.  You had a tape ball in the top.  It was three levels and you had to get your ball through 2 holes and if you made it to the third level you would win.  I liked that sometimes if it goes through the first hole it might not always go through the other holes.  If I could improve one idea about that original game I would try and put the hole on the side a little so it would be harder.    (Written by: Eamon, Grade 3 student at St. Rose Catholic Elementary School)

Now back to carnival.

After Global Maker Day we went back to making our own games at home with our families help.  I got my idea from an actual arcade.  They have ball tosses called Skeeball so I decided to make a ring toss.  When my dad showed me a box we could use I thought it was too big because my friends told me how small their boxes were.  The next day me and my dad started making my game.  My dad said that box was good because if you build a big game kids will go crazy.  So we decided to use the big box.  

We cut holes and put toilet paper rolls in to make the ring toss and we taped them down.  Each post was a different colour and a different point value.  My game was so big I could climb inside.  My teacher and five other students could probably fit in there as well.  

After students played my game there was a little slot and I pushed 2 or more tickets out.  The number of tickets depends on where your ring toss landed.

Today we finally got to bring our games in.  Once I set up my game everyone lined up to play.  I could not believe that many people would want to play my game.  People kept coming back to play again and again.  That made me so happy!

This morning when everyone came to school it was so exciting.  We were all going crazy and telling Mrs. Sidi that they were so excited they could not sleep last night.   When I looked around I was really proud of my friends for making such great games.  We all did really good.   The best part of the game was playing each others games.  (Written by: Vanessa, Grade 3 student at St. Rose Catholic Elementary School)

Student Reflections:

1. Do you think the cardboard challenge is a valuable classroom activity? Explain why.

  • Yes, it gives kids a chance to be creative and be excited and learn. ~ Neil
  • I think the cardboard challenge is valuable because it allows us to do something freely.
  • Yes, because it gives every kid a chance to make their mind creative.
  • It's a good way t use cardboard instead of recycling you can reuse. You get to be creative and it can give you more ideas. You are also reducing waste. ~ Tate
  • I think it's valuable because it's really fun when you get to try other games and other kids who do cardboard carnival will like it. I learned how to problem solve when I was making the game. ~ Eamon
2. What are all the things you learned by doing the cardboard challenge?
  • I learned that it might be easy on a piece of paper but it is harder with your hands
  • The first thing I learned about doing it was that it looks good in your mind but it is really heard to make in real life. Also it takes a lot of work. ~ Lindsey

3. What reasons would you give to convince another teacher to have a cardboard carnival?

  • I would tell them that it's really fun and it gets kids to learn when they don't realize it. ~ Neil
  • I would tell him/her that the brains will work more and maybe their students are going to turn genius. ~Fady
  • I would tell (him or her) that their having so much fun they don't even no they are learning. ~ Lila

Monday, November 28, 2016


Facebook, Google, and Twitter have recently been accused of promoting fake news stories. Depending on your sources and who you believe, fake news played a role in the 2016 presidential election. However, fake news is misused in a number of ways: Propaganda, trying to influence opinion
Direct attacks on a political opponent
Stock manipulation scams
Shock people into clicking and infect their machine with malware (celebrity deaths)
Sell advertising So, how do you protect yourself against this type of scam? The very first thing you need to do with any kind of internet message you see is this: CONSIDER THE SOURCE. Meaning you ask yourself the following questions: Where did this come from? Who wrote it? What is their agenda?

There are a large number of false, misleading, clickbait, and/or satirical “news” sources you need to watch out for. Here are 8 Tips to analyze news sources and make sure you do not fall for their scams: Avoid websites that end in “lo”, for example Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts”.

Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources, and strange or unusual domain names are a big red flag.

If other known and reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story, that is a red flag.

If it is an anonymous story and there is no known / trusted author, it's suspect.

Some news organizations are letting bloggers post under their banner, but many of these posts are opinion and not facts, make sure you note the difference. (Examples are: BuzzFeed, Forbes blogs.)

If you are in doubt because of bad design or grammar/spelling, check their “About Us” tab or look them up on Snopes for verification of that source.

If the story makes you upset or angry, it’s a good idea to keep reading about the topic using other sources to make sure the author wasn’t doing that on purpose (with potentially misleading or false information) to generate shares and ad revenue.

It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, which allows you to spot bias in reporting and confirm information with other sources before you decide to take action. To summarize, consider the source, double check if the data is correct using other reliable sources, and especially with "fake news"... Think Before You Click!"

Posted with Permission from:

Stu Sjouwerman
Founder and CEO, KnowBe4, Inc.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Hour of Code is coming during Computer Science Education Week: December 5-11!

** The latest information from Hadi Partovi at

Have you signed up your event yet for this year? In a world where technology is changing everything, you’ve helped the Hour of Code introduce over 100 million students to computer science. Help us reach every student in 2016 with critical 21st century skills.

What’s new for this year?

We’re very excited to announce that our list of Hour of Code activities has just been refreshed with new content, an updated look, and a filter tool that will allow you to find the best activity for your classroom.
Some cool things about this refresh:
  • We’ve expanded our selection to include over 200 tutorials and lesson plans that introduce students to computer science in a variety of ways. Have fun exploring!
  • Has your class done the Hour of Code before? Maybe they’re even experts at certain puzzles. No problem. Use our new filters to discover more challenging activities that fit all grade and experience levels!
  • There are tons of other ways to filter activities, too: find offline tutorials, and activities that work with robots, iPads, Androids, and whatever other hardware your class has!
  • Want to connect computer science to social studies, math, or another subject? Use the new topic filter to find subject-specific activities. And encourage other subject area teachers at your school to sign up and try it in their classrooms too.
  • There are more updates to come through November, including a few surprise activities that your students will love. Follow @teachcode to get the latest!

For those who have never done the Hour of Code before, the basics of the campaign are still the same: Anybody can learn, no experience required, and it only takes an hour. But for veteran teachers, there are now lesson plans that let you guide students through more complicated activities.

We hope that our broad selection of activities will enable both newcomers and veterans to get the most out of their Hour of Code. This year, make an Hour of Code that is truly your own!