Web Development for Homeschoolers

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

275:` Web Development for Homeschoolers


Podcast episode on Web Development for Homeschoolers

In this episode, host Meryl van der Merwe interviews Robert Walsh, an experienced web developer and educator from Excalibur Solutions Stem Academy. They dive into the fundamentals of web development, discussing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and the advantages of learning to code websites over using drag-and-drop builders. Robert shares insights on the ideal age for kids to start learning web development, free online resources, and the benefits of taking a structured web development course.

Robert Walsh was also a guest on Episode 266 where he talked about teaching students to use Tinkercad.

What is Web Development?

  • Creating content that displays inside a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari)
  • Building dynamic and interactive web pages with coding
  • Requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    • HTML = Structure
    • CSS = Appearance
    • JavaScript = Interactivity and behavior

Why Learn Web Development Instead of Using Drag-and-Drop Tools?

  • Drag-and-drop tools have limitations and may not give the desired result
  • Learning HTML, CSS allows customization beyond drag-and-drop capabilities
  • Adding custom JavaScript enables complex behaviors not possible with drag-and-drop

Age to Start Learning Web Development:

  • Middle school age (6th or 7th grade) can conceptually grasp the basics
  • Need to be comfortable with a computer keyboard
  • Ability to differentiate syntax between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Free Resources for Learning:

Benefits of Taking a Web Development Course:

  • Get feedback and assistance from experienced instructors
  • Learn best practices and coding conventions
  • Structured curriculum and guidance

Robert’s Web Development Course Offerings

Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Engaging Online Art History Resources

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Engaging Online Art History Resources273: Engaging online art history resources

In today’s episode, guest Holly Egan who teaches the Art History class for teens at show sponsor FundaFunda Academy, shares her favorite online art history resources.

Main supplemental websites for her art history class:

Smart History -Has over 800 contributors from all over the world

https://smarthistory.org/

National Geographic – great art history section with engaging articles

Art History School –  artist biographies explored by Paul Priestly

Artthropology.com– a collection of art history videos an art history teacher has put up on her site from various sources

Khan Academytheir art history videos

 

Art Museum Websites 

MoMA  

The Met 

The Whitney  

 

YouTube Channels for Videos:

National Galleries Scotland & Royal Academy of Arts – videos on movements, artists, exhibitions

The Magnificent Paintbrush – excellent, short artist bios from an elementary art teacher

Tate YouTube Channel

The National Gallery YouTube Channel 

Favorite art channel on this list is The Art Assignment. It’s a PBS Digital Studios channel uploads videos focus on contemporary art. Host Sarah Urist Green interviews the artists from around the world and the artists give an assignment to the audience.

Holly’s Art History Class

Art History 2024

Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Magic Student AI Tools

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

271: Magic Student AI Tools

This episode covers the Magic Student AI tools  from Magic School, following last week’s episode ( (Episode 270 – Magic School AI)) on the teacher tools.

Magic School Features to Explore

  • New Google Chrome extension to easily access the tools
  • New YouTube channel explaining how the different products work
  • Can  create a classroom to control which tools students have access to

Magic Student AI Tools Discussed

  • Chatbot for students called Raina (not found very helpful)
  • Writing feedback tool (fantastic for getting feedback on student writing at different grade levels)
  • Research assistant (disappointing results)
  • Create a skit tool (fun for generating skits based on provided characters/scenarios)
  • Step-by-step tool (provides step-by-step instructions for any topic/task)
  • Literary devices tool (gives examples of literary devices based on a provided scenario)
  • Joke creator (jokes not very good)
  • Study bot (helps guide students in what to study for a test)
  • Study habits tips
  • YouTube video summarizer
  • SAT reading practice test
  • Chatbot builder (create a custom chatbot on a specific topic)
  • Character chatbot (roleplay as a literary character)
  • College/career counselor
  • Rap battle (super fun to have historical figures rap battle each other)
  • Book suggestions tool
  • Coding assistant
  • Debate partner (odd/not very useful)
  • Email writer (generated overly long emails)
  • Make Relevant (explains why a topic is relevant to real life)
  • Real World Connections (connects topics to the real world)

Here are the lyrics for the Rap Battle I generated

Round 1: Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, here, dropping beats, not bombs,
From the peanut farm to the White House with calm.
Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the poor,
Eradicating diseases, who could ask for more?

Negotiating peace, like it’s my prime mission,
Camp David Accords, now that’s a vision.
Energy crisis and inflation, I faced it head-on,
A Nobel Peace Prize, yeah, I won one.

Round 2: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, the greatest, no dispute in the ring,
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, I bring.
Champion of the world, not just once, but thrice,
Against injustice and war, I didn’t think twice.

Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in Manila,
My fists do the talk, couldn’t be any realer.
Fighting for Civil Rights, stood against the norm,
Converting to Islam, sparking a reform.

Round 3: Jimmy Carter

Building hope and fighting disease, that’s my creed,
With diplomacy and compassion, I lead.
Solar panels on the White House, I was the first,
For renewable energy, I have an unquenchable thirst.

From Iran hostages to energy laws,
I dealt with it all, never paused.
A farmer, a governor, then a prez,
Always serving the people, yes, that’s my jazz.

Round 4: Muhammad Ali

I dodged the draft, said no to the war,
My fight was here, with poverty and more.
An Olympic gold medal, I threw it in the river,
For a country that practiced racial sliver.

I talked the talk and walked the walk,
For civil rights, I was the rock.
Philanthropic efforts, long after the ring,
Ali, the People’s Champ, forever the king.

End of Battle

Two giants from history with very different battles,
One fought with words, the other with rattles.
Carter and Ali, both champions of peace,
Their legacy and lessons will never cease.

So who wins this battle, it’s hard to say,
They fought in the ring and the world in their own way.
Let’s celebrate these heroes, from sports to the senate,
Their courage and conviction, limitless, infinite.

 

 

Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Magic School AI

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

270: Magic School AI

In  this episode we explore a new resource called Magic School AI, which can be used by homeschoolers to help their children retain and understand concepts, and provide engaging ideas for lessons.

In this episode we look at the tools for teachers (ie would be used by the homeschool parent). Next week we will look at the tools for students

Here are the Magic School AI tools mentioned

    • Text Rewriter: Rewrites text in different styles (humorous, matter-of-fact, ironic, etc.)
    • Question Generators: Creates questions based on YouTube videos or text input
    • Rubric Generator: Generates rubrics for writing assessments
    • Student Work Feedback: Provides feedback on student work based on grade level
    • Text Summarizer and Text Leveler: Summarizes and adapts text to different grade levels
    • Song Generator: Creates songs on any topic and tune
    • Text Proofreader: Checks grammar, spelling, punctuation, and clarity
    • Unit Plan Generator: Generates unit plans
    • Math Story Word Problems: Creates word problems on specific topics
    • Jeopardy Review Game: Generates Jeopardy-style review games with answer keys
    • Vocabulary List Generator: Generates vocabulary lists for specific topics
    • YouTube Video Summarizer: Summarizes YouTube videos
    • Real-World Connections: Suggests project ideas for real-world applications
    • Science Lab: Provides experiments and instructions using readily available materials
    • Data Table Analysis: Generates data tables and analysis questions
    • SAT Reading Questions and Practice Tests
    • AI-resistant Assignments: Creates assignments that are more resistant to AI-assisted cheating
    • Choice Boards: Generates lists of project ideas for students to choose fro

Here is the song about Simple Machines that Magic School AI generated

Simple Machines Wonderland

(Sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things” by Julie Andrews)

Pulleys and levers and inclined planes too,
Wedges and screws and wheels turning through,
Gears that are meshing and helping things lift,
These are the simple machines – what a gift!

Like a seesaw that goes up and down,
Or a wheelbarrow moving dirt through the town,
A flag pole so tall with a pulley on top,
Simple machines make our work never stop.

From a doorknob turning, to a key in a lock,
All these examples are part of our stock,
Ramps for the wheelchair or for loading a truck,
Simple machines are amazing, oh what luck!

So remember these tools that make work a breeze,
In our simple machines wonderland, if you please,
They help us each day to make tasks less tough,
Simple machines – we can’t thank them enough!

Sign up for the FundaFunda Academy newsletter to access free unit studies

 

Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Teen Podcasters Share Their Journey

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

269: Teen Podcasters Share Their Journey

Teen Podcasters Share Their Journey

 

In this episode, host Meryl van der Merwe interviews Laila Alvarez and Damien Segovia, two homeschooled teen podcasters, who share their experience starting and running their own podcast called “IKR?!”.

Topics Covered:

  • What inspired Laila and Damien to start a podcast
  • The name and focus of their podcast “IKR?!”
  • Number of episodes recorded so far and topics covered
  • Technical aspects – equipment used, editing software, posting to platforms
  • Skills they’ve learned from podcasting
  • Advice for parents/teens interested in starting a podcast
  • How they are marketing their podcast

Key Points:

  • Leila and Damien use clip-on mics and just record on a phone, showing podcasting can be done inexpensively
  • They edit using Spotify’s podcasting platform and are looking to expand to Apple Podcasts
  • Podcasting has improved their conversation skills and discipline
  • Having a podcast can be a valuable experience for college application

Where to find Laila and Damien

  • Check out Leila and Damien’s podcast “IKR?!” currently on Spotify, give it a rating/review
  • You can follow them on Instagram @ikrpod

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Comparing AI Assistants

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Comparing AI Assistants

267:  Comparing AI Assistants

In this episode you will find me comparing AI Assistants – depending on your needs your favorites may be different to mine, so I suggest you try them all out too!. Just as you probably have a favorite supermarket, you will likely have a favorite AI assistant after you try some of the popular ones out.

I am using the free version of the 5 I compare

ChatGPT

This is the “original” one that introduced the world to AI Assistants. It is still my go-to but does not have access  to current data and nor does it have the capabilities of some of the others. It is from Open AI

Claude

I like  the way Claude “writes” and use it when I want to use what it has written for show notes etc. It will allow you to upload images and it can “read” them

Perplexity

Perplexity is the one  most people feel is really good at summaries – especially of long papers. It also is sometimes used as an alternative to Google search. My favorite feature is the follow-up prompts it provides – gives you ideas on what else you might want to know. It does not require a log in – but obviously won’t be able to access any past queries if you choose not to log in

CoPilot

This is Microsoft’s AI assistant. I have been using it without logging in. It allows voice to text prompts and  you can upload  both files and images. Sources for the information it provides are at the bottom of each response. You can export the answer to Word, pdf or text. It provides clickable links and has access to current data and information.

Gemini

Gemini was called Bard and is Google’s AI assistant. It also allows voice to text, the upload of images and will provide clickable links if you ask. It  can create tables, graphs and even images (though not images with people in them)

Wrapping up

I asked each of these AI assistants to compare all 5 and many favored themselves – revealing their own bias. Also – thinks are changing so rapidly in the AI landscape  that if you are listening a few weeks after this airs, this may all be inaccurate! I hope you will try them out for yourself and see which you enjoy

FundaFunda Academy class mentioned in this episode 

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Teaching students to use Tinkercad

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

266:Teaching students to use Tinkercad

 

Teaching students to use tinkercad

 

Robert Walsh from Excalibur Solutions Stem Academy explains the why and the how behind teaching students to use Tinkercad.

What is STEM?

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Why does my child need STEM education even if they aren’t interested in a STEM career?

  1. Children do not know what they will want to do after high school, so prepare them in case they do want to pursue a STEM career
  2. There are so many benefits of learning STEM subjects that spill over into all areas of life. See
    Episode 144– Non-Tech Skills Students Learn From Coding

What is Tinkercad?

  1. Tinkercad is a free web-based application that is best known as a 3d modeling tool. You can take your models and then print them out on a 3d printer
  2. The second mode in Tinkercad is called virtual circuits mode. In this mode, you can simulate physical electronic circuits using a breadboard, which is a way to connect components together. You can create circuits, power them with simulated batteries or microcontrollers like Arduino or micro:bit. These microcontrollers are small computers available in the real world, but they are simulated almost perfectly inside Tinkercad’s virtual environment. This mode allows you to learn how to build electrical circuits, use microcontrollers, without worrying about losing or breaking components, not having the right parts, or struggling with the physical dexterity required for working with actual circuits.
  3. There’s a third mode called Code Blocks, similar to the 3D design tools, but instead of dragging and dropping components, you write programs in a block-based, drag-and-drop language similar to Scratch. However, you’re manipulating 3D objects when writing these programs. Once familiar with 3D design, you can inject programming to create models instead of manipulating them freehand.
  4. Finally, there’s a fourth tool called Physics Lab, which allows you to experiment with things like springs, motion, and other physics concepts, all simulated within the Tinkercad environment.

How can students learn Tinkercad?

  1. Many free online resources eg Youtube videos and Tinkercad provides basic training too
  2. Excalibur Solutions Stem Academy has a subscription-based program for many STEM topics and Tinkercad is included in that.

Are there other programs like Tinkercad that people might not know about?

  1. Makecode: https://microsoft.com/makecode
  2. Wokwi: https://wokwi.com

Where to find Robert online:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/excaliburstem

Twitter: https://twitter.com/excaliburstem

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/excaliburstem/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@excaliburstem

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/excalibur-solutions-stem-academy

LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-t-walsh/

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

10 Ways I am using AI in 2024

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

265: 10 Ways I am using AI in 2024

 10 Ways I am using AI in 2024

I use AI like I would a personal assistant. I give clear instructions and check the results. I use it for tasks that free me up to be creative in other areas, or to help me get started on a task. Here are 10 ways I am using AI this year so far.

  1. Podcast show notes  – I use Descript to create a transcript from the audio and then ask Claude to turn it into show notes. You could do the same with any audio you want to turn into notes
  2. Gift ideas – give the interests and age and also what the person already owns
  3. Recommendation letters – I use “voice to text” to get down my ideas on Google docs. Then I take the output and give it to Claude with detailed instructions and an example of a previous recommendation letter I have written
  4. Topics to cover when creating courses – let it generate a list of topics and perhaps also suggested resources to use
  5. Assignment ideas – explain the topic and the grade level and the type of assignment
  6. Assignment questions + suggested answers – you can input a pdf or a video url
  7. Trivia night “cheat sheet” – it provides a list what happened this day in history
  8. Titles of podcast episodes and blog posts – tip: ask for 10 or 20 options so you can select or mix-and-match
  9. Travel itineraries – you can input the criteria you are looking for and ask for suggestions, or even aa detailed plan for each day
  10. Canva AI generated graphics – Canva allows you to type what you are looking for and it will create the graphic

I do all the above using free AI tools!

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

 

The Anton App: Interactive Lessons for Kids

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

264: The Anton App: Interactive Lessons for Kids

Anton app

The Anton App offers bite-sized interactive learning opportunities for K – 8th grade. It is free and some of its features include:

  1. Works on all devices
  2. No ads
  3. Earn coins for games
  4. Covers a wide range of subjects
  5. Can customize avatars to look like oneself
  6. Games are offered as a reward for learning
  7. Groups allow you to add students,  assign specific lessons to the group, see how students are doing by utilizing reports

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Anton app for K - 8th grade

Benefits of Video Projects

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Benefits of video projects for homeschoolers

 261: Benefits of video projects  

There are many benefits of  video projects for homeschool students – and this episode unpacks some of those benefits

Main Points:

  • Kids and teens enjoy the video medium and will likely enjoy creating videos
  • Video creation is a useful skill for college and jobs
  • There are many scholarships that require videos
  • Making videos teaches various skills like planning, tech skills, editing, etc.
  • Videos are easy to share with others like family, friends, classmates

Types of Video Tools Mentioned:

  • My Simple Show – add text and it creates video with clipart
  • Built-in laptop software like iMovie
  • Screen sharing videos (e.g. explaining how a website works) Can use Zoom or Loom
  • Canva
  • Powtoon – for creating animated videos
  • Slideshows turned into videos

Potential Project Ideas:

  • Explain how to play Minecraft
  • Documentary about last vacation using Canva
  • Animated book report with Powtoon
  • Fundraiser promo video for non-profit organization
  • Tutorial videos based on child’s hobbies and interests

 

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Take a look at show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy to see what they offer for online classes and web-based unit studies.

Join our Facebook Group, especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology into your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode

Benefits of video projects for homeschoolers