Scratch Your Projects With Dr Scratch!!!


I know there a lot of schools out there who have started or are about to start their coding journey using the visual programming platform Scratch. This post may be of some assistance. Dr Scratch is a great complimentary site to Scratch that allows teachers and students to analyse their Scratch projects and dig deeper into their programming ability through a report/rating on a number of categories such as flow control, data representation, abstraction, user interactivity, synchronization, parallelism and logic.

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The Dr Scratch analysis tool also suggest ways for users to improve the back end of their Scratch program and get a better rating. It identifies when a sprite or costume hasn't been given a unique name or way of identifying the game asset other than “sprite 1” or “costume 2” this is a common mistake made by students and it is also a sign of a lazy programmer.

To use the Dr Scratch website simply copy your Scratch project URL and paste it into the anaylse by URL feature on the Dr Scratch homepage. When I tried to login and create an account the website crashed a number of times so I wouldn’t bother getting your kids sign up, you don’t really need it.

The Dr Scratch website isn’t the answer to all your Scratch problems, it doesn’t debug the programming and identify the exact errors you might want. But it is still a great resource to add classroom discussion/reflection and improve student and teacher understanding of what does  “best practice” coding/programming look like. Check it out you have nothing to lose!!

Omegle - A Serious Cyber Safety Risk To Your Students!!


New sites and Apps that pose a Cyber Safety risk to our students are released daily however Omegle is a site that has slipped under the radar for years now and it is frightening!!!

Omegle can be best described as a free online website that allows users to socialise via text or video without the need to register or identify yourself. Students love the anonymous element to Omegle as they are referred to as Stranger 1 or Stranger 2. Pedophiles also love these features!!!

You must be at least 13 years old to create an Omegle account and parental permission is suggested for people under 18. But hey, most kids ignore this anyway just have a look at how many under 13 year olds have Facebook or Instagram accounts it is alarming. Omegle doesn’t store your personal information/chats or details so you can easily play the “stranger” card and that’s the “hook” for Omegle. An additional feature if you choose is to provide your Facebook details such as likes and topics allowing you to connect with people of similar interests.

What makes Omegle appealing to students is the ability connect with so called “strangers”. The  “stranger” experience and thrill students/Kids get from Omegle can be amplified when they provide their email and filter the strangers via .edu domains. This is really popular in some of the schools I support. Students are using Omegle on their school network and text chatting with other students using their school domain but they don’t know each other’s identity unless they disclose it. The students I spoke with think this is safe and a lot of fun! I could only imagine the types of conversations being had on this type of service. The message I convey to these students is "Just because it is anonymous doesn't make it safe". In fact I think people would be more willing to chat about inappropriate content or bully others when they are anonymous!

The real threat Omegle presents to our students and kids is the random video chat feature. Especially when the site itself highlights on their home page “PREDATORS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO USE OMEGLE SO PLEASE BE CAREFUL”!!! Gees I can’t wait to sign my kids up to that website!!!! 

 Screen shot taken from the omegle homepage. Please note the highlights "Predators have been know to use omegle, so please be careful"

Screen shot taken from the omegle homepage. Please note the highlights "Predators have been know to use omegle, so please be careful"

The live video chat is has the same concept as the text feature. Any user can randomly connect with a stranger via video and begin a conversation. Strangers can be filtered via common interests and wait in a room to be connected to a like minded stranger, pedophile, nudist, lonely person, prankster, catfish or scammer.

I spent sometime online waiting in the so called monitored Omegle video chat rooms to see the types of people who I would connect and also see how random this website really is. I was shocked with what I found, from a group of boys in the US looking to trash talk anyone and everyone just from their appearance to seedy blokes who appear on screen with their shirts off then exit the chat as soon as they see another adult male. I also found Omegle is  a gold mine for  lonely and bored teenagers looking for something and someone to talk to. This could be a good thing for some students/kids however I think the potential harm is greater.

Omegle also has an 18+ Adult section. I will let your imagination guess what happens here. What I was surprised with was how easy it would be for a person of any age to enter this section of the site. No verification, no security it is just open slather. Omegle also warn that the adult 18+ area is a not moderated and you are also more likely to encounter sexual behaviour!!! Happy Days!!

 Screen shot of the Warning you get  when you click on the adult 18+ section of Omegle

Screen shot of the Warning you get  when you click on the adult 18+ section of Omegle

Parents and teachers please be aware of Omegle and discuss the cyber safety dangers and risks when using such a service with your children and students.

Banqer - Financial Literacy Platform


Banqer essentially transforms the classroom into a virtual economy where kids can learn to earn, save, spend and invest in a safe and engaging way. It is designed by teachers, for teachers, is well supported with comprehensive resources and, as well as improving students financial capabilities, it is an effective class management tool.

I recently met  with Liz Phelan (Operations and Sales) from Banqer and she gave me a demo of the platform. I was really impressed with the cross curricula links and the classroom management element.  This took me back to the days when I was a 5/6 classroom teacher. The students were so motivated towards learning and absolutely loved the opportunity to simulate real life scenarios by buying,  selling and saving through a program called Money Matters. Banqer is basically new and improved version of Money Matters or you may also remember a similar program called Earn & Learn. What separates Banqer from other financial literacy packages available today is that is online, easily accessible and certain elements have been automated to remove the forgetful teacher component.  Meaning students trust the integrity within the  system and know they are going to get paid (virtually) as a reward for their effort.

Real life financial scenarios are played out through the Banqer platform in modules. These modules can be released gradually as the students develop their financial competency.  Students simulate the grow of their wealth portfolio through their Banqer online bank account.

Students experience;

  • paying bills
  • purchasing a house
  • saving and receiving interest
  • tax
  • insurance
  • superannuation contributions
  • online transactions
  • financial disasters/emergencies
  • receive e-payments as classroom rewards

Student’s data and privacy are safe within the Banqer platform. The set up is all done in a few easy steps by the classroom teacher and is not linked to students email accounts. All data is stored in Sydney and is safe and secure.

Who is it for?

Students as young as Level 2 (year2) right through to Secondary age students are using Banqer to develop their financial literacy skills!! Teachers all over the world are using Banqer to create engaging classroom dynamics and classroom management practices while learning more about what makes the world spin "MONEY".

How do I get started with Banqer?

Banqer is free by clicking the 'Get Sponsored Now' link on the website and follow the guided process to getting your classroom economy set up. Alternatively you can contact Liz Phelan