Teacher of the Week: Episode 3

As a student, what I loved most about school was knowing I was loved and appreciated by my teachers. The experiences I had being cared for as a person by my own teachers shaped the way I interacted with my students when I became a teacher. I was reminded of this last week, when I spoke with Marilou Schantz, of Washington Elementary in Clinton, Oklahoma.

Marilou emanates compassion and love for every student she crosses paths with, and I was inspired remembering how a deep care for students as people can be a driving force in the work of an educator. Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.04.46 PM

Congratulations on being chosen as teacher of the week! Can you start off by telling us a little about your teaching background?

This is my 9th year teaching. I’ve taught 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade “Gifted and Talented”, and after following my daughter to her school to teach 6th grade, I’m in my second year of 5th and 6th grade science at Washington Elementary!

What do you love most about teaching?

The kids; just getting to love them. I always tell them, “You’re mine, you’re mine forever.”

Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn how to code and develop 21st century technology skills?

To keep up with the world around them. I want to see my kids be able to do anything, and to know that they can do anything. My class motto is, “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ because you admit you’re not trying. Believe you can, no matter what.”

What is one of the most exciting things you have seen happen with coding in your classroom?

They don’t want to stop! They want to do it all of the time.

What are some challenges you have had implementing coding in your school?

Not everyone wants to do it just yet. There’s always an element of being afraid to try it, with anything new. For me, I just dive right in. I’m not afraid- whatever it is, you have to just try it. I tell my kids that and I do it; I show them you have to just try.

What is one coding goal you have as an instructor?

For kids to take it home and show their parents, their friends. Share it, show someone else, be excited about what we’re doing.

We have to ask: How do you make time to take care of yourself during the school year?

I run marathons! I run, I get kids to run with me. I’ve had a few kids do 5ks with me. You have to make time between the time you don’t think you have- you have to do it.

What do you think is the most important thing for kids to take away from their education?

For them to believe that they can be anything, and to believe it whole heartedly. To know that they’re loved, every single one of them. In here, in my classroom, they are all loved and appreciated and they know it.

Lastly, what do you like to do for fun outside of teaching?

I have two daughters, I like to hang out with my girls whenever we  can. We like to watch movies and be together.

Thank you, Marilou! We are inspired by the love you have for your students and the expectations you have for them to reach their potential.

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Teacher of the Week: Episode 2

jen gilbert imageMeet Jen Gilbert, Kodable Teacher of the Week

Our featured teacher this week is no stranger to Kodable. Jen is an active contributor to our weekly #KidsCanCode Twitter chat, and was one of the awesome classroom hosts on our Kodable Road Trip tour last year.

I got a chance to chat with Jen this week and learn about her unique teaching path that includes higher education, frisbee dogs, and working relentlessly to get kids coding!

Congratulations on being Kodable Teacher of the Week! How did you get into teaching and when did coding become a part of the work you do?

I began my teaching career in Chicago, and after a few years decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Science Education at Depaul University. I took time off to focus on Frisbee dog work and travel, I was doing shows, and decided that I didn’t want to return to Chicago. I took a local K-3 technology assistant position and it’s now year three for me at Middlefork. Coding at Middlefork started with the hour of code, and I realized we could make it into a before-school coding club. I teamed up with our PE teacher and had the support of the entire staff and administration. From coding club, coding has grown to be the work I want to do with students.

What do you love most about teaching?

Elementary is new for me and I just love the age group. The kids are the best part of being a teacher, they’re why I do it. This age group is so awesome and fun, they make the experience for me.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn how to code and develop 21st century technology skills?

Technology Encourages curious nature and problem solving skills. It’s a vehicle to engage students.  There’s so much excitement around robots, apps, Kodable. Using skills for this kind of work and engaging in challenges prepares kids for the next step in their education.

What is one of the most exciting things you have seen happen with coding in your classroom?

Seeing it become a part of the school community and culture. It’s become part of the conversation around what we’re doing at our school. A culture around technology and code has grown from something we did in the morning to something we do. I get stopped by parents and siblings in the neighborhood and they’re excited about it. Younger siblings are coming into the school excited about getting to do what their brother or sister has done, and that’s exciting to see.

What is one coding goal you have as an instructor?

Integration. We can continue to do amazing things and grow the club, but we’ll really feel like we are making it when we can embed activities into the work teachers are already doing.

We have to ask: How do you make time to take care of yourself during the school year?

I do work with dogs. I try to make it a priority over the summer. It can be consuming to be doing webinars, teaching, and Professional Development. On the weekends when I do my work with dogs, I can recharge and set everything on a shelf for a day two. Jen Gilbert blog image

What do you think is the most important thing for kids to take away from their education?

Self confidence. Seeing kids realize they can take on any challenge is so important. When I see kids asking questions on their own, away from school, I think we’ve done our job.

Lastly, what do you like to do for fun outside of teaching?

I do a little bit of work in design and I’m trying to learn new maker projects. Any project that I can get absorbed in, it’s for me.

 

Thank you, Jen! We are grateful that you shared your experience with us and that you’re equipping so many students with 21st Century technology skills!

Join Jen and the thousands of teachers using Kodable to bring 21st Century skills to their students. 

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Introducing Kodable Teacher of the Week : Episode 1

 

 

Kodable Teacher of the Week

Teachers are absolute rockstars and the world doesn’t hear enough about it. We know how hard our teachers are working to get their kids coding and developing 21st Century skills and want everyone else to know, too.

We’re excited to announce we will be introducing you to a new, code busting teacher each week. It is our goal to spotlight teachers bringing coding to their schools, and to let their stories inspire others.

Meet Brian Adams, our first ever Teacher of the Week!

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Brian is a Pennsylvania native, with 20 years of teaching under his belt.  Mr. Adams is the Instructional Technology teacher and coach for k-3 students at Ridge Park Elementary School in Conshohoken, Pennsylvania.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Adams before he embarks on year 21, and learn about how he has successfully implemented coding in his school.

Congratulations on being chosen as teacher of the week! Can you start off by telling us about your teaching background and how you got started with teaching code?

My first nine years of teaching were spent teaching second grade. I switched to k-3 Technology, and a few years ago we started a really big transition with iPads. I had heard about different coding apps, but was looking for more than just “drill and practice” and I really wanted my students engaged with the content. I found Kodable and played through the whole thing; I fell in love with it. We started with 24 students sharing 14 iPads, but once the web version was released I could get all of my students on at once. We currently have our 1st and 2nd graders using it, and 3rd graders trying to come back and log in to do more!

What do you love most about teaching?

I love seeing the students engaged and enjoying what  they’re doing. It’s really great to be able to see their excitement and willingness to take it as far as they can.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn how to code and develop 21st century technology skills? 

I’m really drawn to the problem solving aspect. We’ve used Kodable individually and collaboratively with our students. Our 1st graders have  started off working with a partner, because it’s a new way of thinking for them. For them, it’s huge getting their fuzzes through the maze and learning to be persistent. They have to learn how to try and retry- maybe even 10 times. It forces kids to ask, “how can I learn from my mistakes and improve?”

What are some challenges you have had implementing coding in your school?

There haven’t been too many challenges. I’m fortunate that my Administration has always been on board and supportive from the beginning; they’re a group of progressive thinkers. Early on, we struggled with limited devices but the Web has allowed us to get all of our students on at once.

What is one of the most exciting things you have seen happen with coding in your classroom? 

I had a mom come into the classroom and see the poster that showed skills kids were building with coding. She was a math major in college, and to see her simply in awe really felt good. I had my own perspective on it, but then to have a workforce perspective come in was awesome. With students, I had a 2nd grade student log in at home and complete everything in a few weeks. I couldn’t believe that he had successfully worked through it that fast, I kept double checking him in class and he could explain every concept. I brought him to the parent council meeting for the district. He sat with parents and iPads and explained Kodable and problem solving to all of them. He was able to explain the value of it to parents, and that was really special.

We have to ask: How do you make time to take care of yourself during the school year?

Sometimes, it’s just saying the day is over and putting school aside. The to do list can wait. I make sure I make time to exercise. For fun, the Phillies! 

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What do you think is the most important thing for kids to take away from their education? 

It sounds cliche, but a love and enjoyment for learning. Things can pile up; tests and papers. It’s important for them to find the part of it that they enjoy somewhere in there.

Thank you, Mr. Adams, for your 20+ years of serving students, and for being our first Kodable Teacher of the Week! 

Register your teacher account today and get your students coding! 

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Kodable Road Tour: Day 10

After 2 great days in Minnesota, we headed south to Sioux City, Iowa where we spent the day with Loess Hills Elementary doing PD sessions and programming workshops with a wonderful crew!

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What we learned: Connecting coding to the common core

Loess Hills spoke at length with us about their desire to continue expanding their coding curriculum, but also their plans to integrate it with the common core. We spent our PD session brainstorming and demonstrating how Kodable can be integrated with the CCSS. It also taught us the importance of making this connection easier in Kodable, and this is something that we plan on adding in the future. As of right now, we have a list of the common core standards that Kodable aligns with, but many of these are math standards. After our PD sessions and workshops, we realized that we should work on making Kodable align with more reading standards, and we came up with some great ideas together to make this a possibility in the future. So thanks to the team at Loess Hills, look for many more exciting changes to come!

Favorite Moment: Functions??!

When we began our lesson with Loess Hill 2nd graders we planned to cover loops at the most to challenge them, but we quickly saw that they were quite advanced and ready for functions! After we wrote our first line of code for our robot and went to write a second, one of the students immediately responded that a loop would be appropriate in this situation. In addition to this, another student countered that a function would probably make more sense given what our goals were for the program. Wow! Needless to say, we were very impressed. 🙂

The Future: Curriculum integration and making more time for coding

Loess Hills is doing great with teaching coding so far, but thanks to Polly Meissner (@libraryPolly), Layne Henn (@sctechbuzz), and many others, they plan to expand this in the future. This means more time spent coding, and further integration into the school curriculum with more teachers onboard and taking part.

Thank you everyone for the warm reception at Loess Hills! We hope to get back to check in again in the future. 🙂

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Off to Texas!!

Kodable Road Tour: Day 9

We had such a great first day in Minnetonka that we decided to stay for round 2 the very next day! Today’s stops included: Clear Springs Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary.

Stop #1: Clear Springs Elementary

In the morning we met up with our great friend Jeremy (@JEngebretson75), and got prepared to start a fresh day of coding with some students.

What we learned: A new way to teach students to count loops

Yesterday, we spoke to many students about how important it was to use loops in the right manner, and not just use the simply for the extra boxes to take up space. Today, we helped students understand and identify how many iterations are needed for a loop, so that they can begin to use loops more efficiently. In order to determine the number of iterations, we helped the students count the corners of each maze with two fingers. By placing two fingers on the corner of each maze and counting the number of times this occurs, students were able to easily figure out the number of iterations needed for their loop. This made things much easier, as many students tend to eyeball and then guess the number of iterations that they need. Furthermore, since they had discovered a way to easily identify the number of iterations, these students tended to use loops in a more efficient manner, and discarded their old methods.

Highlight of the day: Rating understanding with thumbs up/thumbs down

During our sessions at Clear Springs, we encountered one of our favorite rating systems, the thumbs up if you understand, and thumbs down if you are still confused rating system. This immediate feedback was very useful for our lesson to help gauge if the students understood the material, and we ended up using this a number of times to help explain some of the more difficult concepts such as binary code, translating code, and how exactly loops work.

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With this visit we concluded our time in Minnetonka! Thanks so much to everyone who made it a great two days of programming. 🙂

Stop #2: Cedar Ridge Elementary 

For our last stop in Minnesota, we headed over to Cedar Ridge Elementary where we met up with the awesome Jen Heyer and her students. 🙂

What we learned: Let the students be the experts

We have already talked a little about the ask 3 then me rule on our trip, which has worked very well so far. But in today’s class we also saw the importance of having students be the experts. In this session we had several students who were flying through the game, and some others who were finding some of the challenging levels a little bit difficult. When we paired those who were struggling with those who had already finished a particular level, the results were phenomenal.

Take away: Many students will move quickly through lessons while others will be more challenged, and quite a few students will play at home and finish Kodable as well. Since there are often many students who are on several different portions of the game, it can sometimes get tricky if you want to complete a lesson that many students have already finished. Instead of forcing these students to red0 levels they have completed or let them move far ahead of other students, instruct them to help others, and teach the concepts to their fellow classmates.

Favorite moment: Watching kids learn loops in a matter of minutes

Jen’s class had limited experience with loops, but that did not stop them from picking it up very quickly. We had put aside several minutes of discussion for loops, but in a matter of a few minutes, all of the students had firmly grasped the concept and were ready to move on to using loops in Kodable. Instead of holding them back, we move straight to loops lessons and watched them get busy coding!

The future: Coding during Fall Science

Jen shared with us her awesome plans to teach Computer Science….as an actual science next year! In place of teaching other Science topics, Jen plans to make time for Computer Science during these units, and make it a staple in her classroom curriculum. We can’t wait to hear more about how her ambitious plans work out next year!

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And we are off to Iowa! Stay tuned for our blog about our visit to Loess Hills Elementary.

Kodable Road Tour: Day 8

After a long drive from Chicago, we kicked off Day 8 in Minnesota (said in MN accent) ;P. Today, we visited 3 schools!! Wow, what a jam packed day…but so much to share!

Our First Stop: Deephaven Elementary

What we learned: Kodable works to perfection when you set up a class beforehand

Most times when we finish our screen-free activity and move to setting up students with iPads, there is a little confusion and it takes some time to get students set up. Not in Minnetonka! Thanks to Jeremy Engebretson (@JEngebretson75) and the amazing teachers at Deephaven, the students were already organized into a class on Kodable, and were very familiar with the login procedures. In less than 2 minutes, each student was playing Kodable and the workshop was moving along again.

Take away: Organize your students into a class to save time and the headache

Since each student was already in a class, they could easily sign in on their iPad and did not have to waste time searching for the correct iPad or creating an account. Each student was able to begin exactly where they left off, and were quickly engaged without any distraction. This made for a seamless transition, and minimized the amount of time students could disengage for the lesson. The time spent adding students to a class led to an enormous amount of time saved down the road during lessons. This makes a huge difference when you have a limited amount of programming time and every minute counts.

Memorable moment: Let’s test our code!

Throughout the course of the workshop we watched many students input a small amount of code and begin testing to see how far the fuzz would roll before they received an error message. This reminded us the importance of trying and testing our code, as well as not being afraid of failure. This is a concept that we want to try to stress in Kodable, as it is immensely important for programmers when they are writing a program or debugging.

What’s down the road?

Coding coordinators at Deephaven are making a coding curriculum/plan for each grade level. This past year has gone so well that they are planning on doing even more in the future, and making coding an even bigger part of their everyday curriculum.

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Our Second Stop: Glen Lake 

What we learned: Lessons can be applied at many ages

In Glen Lake we switched things up and completed a Kodable workshop with a class of 6th graders! Fresh off a morning of working with 1st graders, we were a little out of our element at first, but quickly hit our stride once we began talking with the students. This experience taught us that any programming concept can be adapted for older students, and can work quite well. We had great discussions surrounding programming, fielded a number of difficult questions, and also learned a lot while playing Kodable.

Memorable Moment: Complete a challenging level together and hearing the cheers as the fuzz attempted to roll through the maze each time

In this particular session, we decided to complete one of the most challenging levels of Kodable together, and see if we could encourage our students to program the fuzz through the maze using the most efficient code possible. This turned out to be an exhilarating experience as the fuzz almost made it through the maze a number of times, but not quite. Eventually we got it, and we were very happy that we chose to do a level together.

What’s next?

Colette Kastner’s student’s were very interested in how we got started and involved with Kodable, and the route we took to get there. Many of the students asked how they could begin to learn to code on their own, and we provided them with a number of resources such as our How I Taught Myself to Code series where they could find some things to get started. Looking forward to hearing how things continue to progress into the future. 🙂

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Our final stop: Groveland Elementary

What we learned: Explain thatlLoops are not just for adding more spaces

Many students when working on loops levels in Kodable simply like to use the looper to add more boxes so that they can complete their code. To avoid this, we spoke a lot to the students about identifying patterns in each of the technomazes in Kodable. When working with a student, I would always start off by asking them if they noticed any patterns in the maze in front of them. If they did, I would instruct them to then look at the number of boxes available in the command bin. If there did not seem to be that many boxes, then I loop would most likely need to be used.

Additionally, we also stressed utilizing iterations for each of the loop. Each loop should never be used just once, but should be used at least twice. When we showed many of the students the benefits of tapping on the looper and increasing the number of iterations, many abandoned the previous methods and started utilizing the loops in a more efficient manner.

Memorable Moment: Seeing the students learning and communicating in Spanish

While we were visiting Groveland, we were fortunate enough to visit one of their Spanish immersion classes, where…you guessed it…all of the students spoke Spanish! This was the first time that we had ever taught programming in another language, and we were a little intimidated at first. However, Grechen and I tried our best to use our limited Spanish language knowledge to fit in and help the students as much as possible.

 

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What a whirlwind of a day! Check in again to hear more about more of our adventures in Minnetonka tomorrow. 🙂

Kodable Road Tour: Day 7

After finishing Day 6 of our #KodableRoadTour in Boston, we decided to switch things up a little bit and flew to Chicago to check out what was happening in programming education in the Midwest! Today’s stops included: Chicago Jewish Day School and Middlefork School.

Stop #1: Chicago Jewish Day School

We arrived in Chicago late Monday night, and were ready to get started coding when we were warmly welcomed to Chicago Jewish Day School on Tuesday morning. 🙂

What we learned: Ask 3 then me rule is a lifesaver

As the students progress in Kodable, it can get challenging. Sometimes, when a student first looks at a level, they turn to look at you, and immediately feel that they are going to need help. Most time however, this is not the case! At Chicago Jewish Day School we found that the ask 3 then me rule worked to perfection, and students worked even better when they collaborated with each other to solve a Kodable lesson. When a student asked me for help, the first thing I would ask them is if they had consulted a friend first. After this, all of them were eager to go to their classmates for help, and this turned out to be an amazing learning experience for all.

Favorite moment: Labeling your iPads by state and animals is a fantastic idea

When we were helping Alex pass out her students iPad’s at Chicago Jewish Day School, we noticed that some sported the names of states and others had animals names on the back/front. When calling out and asking the students whose iPad was West Virginia, we realized that this was a great idea to organize the iPads in this way. Students were asking for the names of various states and animals while receiving their iPads to begin coding, making for a great learning experience. We are always coming across some amazing techniques as we travel to classrooms across the country, but this one was particularly original and also quite funny. Never thought I would see a student calling out for Oregon or searching so hard for California.

The future forecast: Sunny, with a chance of more coding!

Alex and her students were excited to complete the unplugged fuzzFamily frenzy activity, and were also thrilled to do more with Kodable in the future. We were really excited to be able to stop by and see how far they have gotten already with coding. We are always so impressed by our young learners, but especially the students we met at Chicago Jewish Day School.

Stop #2: Middlefork School 

What we learned: Explaining conditions by testing

While at Middlefork School we discovered a great new way to help teach conditions to your students in Kodable. Conditions can be tough, and we often are brainstorming and trying to find new ways to explain them to our young learners. However, Grechen and I found during this particular session that a good way to help the students learn is by helping them first go over their options and test.

When presented with a condition:

First, instruct the student to simply not use a condition, and watch what the fuzz does when it rolls. 

Next, instruct the student to try the same segment of code when using a condition, and discover what happens then. 

We found that presenting students with all their options really clarified the function of conditions, and cemented in the idea of when it was necessary to use a condition, and when one was not needed.

Another good way to present conditions in Kodable is as a decision making tile. Does your fuzz need to change direction? If yes, then you need a condition, if no, then a condition is not necessary.

 

Favorite moment: At the end of our workshop we met with Jen’s coding club for a great question and answer session. And we for sure were not disappointed! One question we received from a student very interested in coding was particularly impressive, and even had us talking for awhile after the workshop concluded. This particular student was a 3rd grader, and asked us if “we chose to code Kodable in Java because it is platform independent?” From a 3rd grader! It just goes to show that the sooner that students are introduced to programming the sooner they can start doing and learning amazing things. I never thought in my life that I would hear the words Java come out of a students mouth when speaking about programming.

The future: Much more things to come courtesy of Jen Gilbert! (@msgilbertrocks)

Jen always stays super busy and has a number of projects in the works. 🙂 Jen hopes to increase the amount of time that her students are able to program during the week, as well as add more resources and tools to her growing programming curriculum. Jen has a very successful coding club and has generated a lot of interest amongst her students, but she hopes that she can also continue to expand this, meeting more and taking on more coding projects/challenges. And of course, Jen plans to continue using Kodable! 🙂

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Thanks so much to our Day 7 teachers, students, and schools!

Kodable Road Tour: Day 6

The Kodable Road Tour

After a weekend to recharge, we ventured off to the Boston area for Day 6 of our programming road tour. Today’s stops: Downey School and Horace Mann Elementary.

First Stop: Downey School

At Downey School we met up with Judy Kress and an eager group of Kinders/2nd graders who were more than ready to get started coding.

What we learned: Know your audience

As we continue to work on and improve our workshops, we started out with a great learning experience at Downey. When running through our fuzzFamily Frenzy activity and programming our robot, we lost/confused our audience midway through the activity. We challenge our young students in the activity by introducing them to new terms, and concepts. This includes programming terms such as coding and binary, as well as concepts such as rotating/spinning a certain number of degrees when coding our robot. Today, our kinders/2nd graders were a little confused with the concept of rotating a certain number of degrees, something they had not gotten to cover in class just yet.

Take Away: Clearly explain commands as you go along 

We learned that it is important to make sure that all of the students have a firm understanding of new terms and concepts before moving ahead. When writing code on the board for our fuzzFamily frenzy activity, it is important to make sure that students are clear on the code being used, as well as the basic functions of our robot. In retrospect, we should have explained the concept of rotating, talked more about degrees, and made sure that these difficult concepts were clear before moving on. Or even better, we could have described them in simpler terms, or talked about rotating our robot in a way that they would better understand.

Favorite Moment: Meeting girls in a coding club

We had the wonderful opportunity of meeting girls in a coding club who couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was. It was great to see their passion and interest, as well as their desire to continue learning more coding concepts. These girls were clearly really smart, and we all would benefit if they continue with coding.

The plan for the future: Get more girls coding

Downey has plans for a girls coding club, and is also looking for suggestions for Technovation. Help out with some ideas! @judykress

Thanks to Judy and the rest of the crew we met at Downey for all of the awesome pictures! Check out our amazing slideshow below of our morning.

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Horace Mann Elementary

What we learned: Bring others in

When we visited Patti and her students at Horace Mann, we were certainly not alone! During our programming session were were joined by many other teachers and parents who wanted to learn more about programming. This served as a great opportunity to get others on-board, and advertise how awesome coding can be for our young students. It also did not hurt to have extra volunteers to help the students along in our workshop, and made for a wonderfully collaborative experience. By the end of the session everyone was super impressed, and we fielded tons of questions about continuing coding and where to learn more for the future.

Favorite Moment: Our Google Hangout

In our last session with Horace Mann 5th graders, we brought in expert help from our team member Marc, who helped us out with answering some complex technical questions. Our students put him to the test, asking him some tough programming questions about best practices in programming and Kodable’s code base. This discussion turned out to be very informative for everyone, and I would suggest that every class speak to a programmer! Sharing thoughts, projects, and ideas is always a great way to get students excited about coding.

The future: More coding!

Horace Mann plans to continue to use Kodable and develop their programming curriculum. We were truly amazed at how much coding knowledge the students had by 5th grade, and we are looking forward to seeing them expand in the future!

Also, Patti decorated the whole library with Kodable fuzzes before our arrival! One of the highlights of our trip was walking in to giant welcome signs and Kodable fuzzes hanging from the ceiling. Props to Patti for taking the time to make us feel welcome. 🙂

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And that is all for Day 6! On to Chicago next. 🙂

#KodableRoadTour: Show Everyone Your Programming Skills

Kodable Road Tour Swag

The #KodableRoadTour is moving at lightning speed! We have already visited over 20 schools in 10 states, and we don’t plan on slowing down. 🙂

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Were you a stop on the #KodableRoadTour and want to show off your programming skills? Or do you just love Kodable and want to support the future of children’s programming? Get some #KodableRoadTour Swag!

Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts

Be sure to also check out our daily blog posts from all of our stops to learn more about our adventures, as well as what other classrooms are doing with coding around the country.

 

Kodable Road Tour: Day 5

Today, the Kodable Tour stopped in Greater New York, where we visited two awesome schools that shared with us all the progress they have made in their coding curriculum. Oh yea..and they helped us learn a few things as well. 🙂

First Stop: Highland Falls Intermediate School

What we learned: bugs happen; it’s okay to talk about them.

We used the web version of Kodable during our first session with Kristen Magyar, and discovered an issue with the way the cursor was appearing on their desktop computers. The graphics cards were having issues rending the cursor correctly and there was a bit of a lag. Naturally, the kids clicked furiously in an effort to get the mouse working correctly.

This was a great moment to have a discussion about bugs, why they happen, and how we can react to them. After talking about the bug, students showed great patience and everything worked well. We were fortunate to have a few iPads available as a back up for the students who didn’t want to continue with the issue.

When the second group came in, we talked about the bug with them before they got started. This made things work much smoother and they showed great patience while working with the issue.

Take awayIf you discover a bug, talk with students about it. Turn what could be a stressful situation in to a learning opportunity. You can model patience and good trouble shooting behavior for the students, as well as discuss it with students to prevent impatience before it starts.

Favorite Moment: I had a great conversation with the 5th graders at Highland Falls Intermediate School about creating an app, how to get started, and some other technical questions.

It was a lot of fun to discuss this with them, and see their eagerness and excitement at the idea of creating technology for others to use.

The future: Kristen Magyar and the team at Highland Falls are moving more into coding next year. She already has students thinking about vocabulary with words like “loops” and their definitions written all around her lab. The principal is very supportive as the technology team begins increasing the amount of coding done at Highland Falls.

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After a quick lunch, we scooted over to Lakeland schools to visit Linda Brandon.

Second Stop: Benjamin Franklin Elementary

What we learned: Smooth Transitions – brought to you by explanations.

When you go in to someone’s classroom it is a lot like visiting someone’s home. I feel a bit like I’m imposing, and want to be polite and do things “their” way. This always stopped me from being decisive about how to transition from a lesson to iPad time. Every class has their own way of handing out the iPads and giving sign on instructions. However, it usually ends up getting a bit chaotic if I don’t review how to get signed on to Kodable with the students.

On this trip, I’ve learned I can ask a few review questions before saying the magical word (iPad) that sends everyone in to frenzy and make the lesson-to-iPad transition go easily. They’re listed below, and work like a charm!

What app will we be using? (Kodable)

What does the icon look like? (Yellow with a blue fuzz)

What do we do when Kodable opens? (Press play)

Do we press play if we don’t see our name on the play button? (No)

How do we switch? (Press the button with people on it “Switch Profiles”)

What do we press next? (Our class name)

What do we press when we see the list of names? (Our name)

Favorite moment: It’s always fun to see how much students learn in a small amount of time during our coding sessions, but to people who haven’t seen the power of coding with a live class of students it can really have an impact. There were a lot of visitors in our session at Benjamin Franklin. People from all over the district were there to learn and watch our session. I loved seeing the recognition of how much learning was happening when “playing” coding.

Thanks to Linda for creating this awesome Animoto!

The future: Everyone in the Lakeland school district is interested in coding. It was wonderful to see so much support coming from district administrators. People came from a variety of schools and positions to watch our sessions, and were eager to learn more about implementing coding.

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What a day! Keep reading to learn more about our adventures on Day 6. 🙂