Kodable Road Tour: Day 4

Wow, what a day! Day 4 is in the books for the Kodable Road Tour, and our sessions just keep getting better and better. On this particular day of our programming journey, we arrived in Queens, New York, where we had tons of coding fun with our good friends at the Solomon Schechter School of Queens. 

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What we learned: When choosing a robot for fuzzFamily frenzy…choose wisely! 

One of the unplugged activities that we have had great success with over the course of the Kodable Road Tour thus far is fuzzFamily Frenzy. This activity is a great starter activity for any grade level that is beginning to learn to code, and can be differentiated in a number of different ways to accommodate the skill levels of the students. We have covered sequence, functions, and everything in between in fuzzFamily frenzy so far on our tour, and the students have responded really well.

Students at the Solomon Schechter School were particularly impressed with fuzzFamily Frenzy, and the amazing Rebecca Simon helped us even further differentiate the activity for the benefit of the students. Often Grechen and I are the volunteer robots, but this time around Rebecca arranged for some of the more vocal and outspoken students in her class to serve as the robots in our activity. We found that this worked particularly well because even after the activity ended, these students could be reminded that they had been “coded” in a certain way, and that they had to live up to the expectations of their program. 🙂

This also led to a number of interesting variations of our robot program, including lots of jumping, dancing, and fist pumps.

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Plans for the future: This is only the beginning…

Solomon plans to continue with more unplugged activities, and was thrilled to hear about the new Kodable Curriculum. Rebecca is always looking for more ideas and has done an awesome job at getting more teachers at her school on-board and started coding. Be sure to follow her at @Edtechmorah to learn more about the neat stuff she is doing with coding at her school and share ideas.

Favorite Moment: What to do when the WiFi is not working?

We often talk about our greatest fear when in the classroom…and that is what to do when the WiFi is not working. For a slight moment in our visit…this fear struct all of us. However, not to worry…because we had plenty to do in the meantime! When the WiFi wasn’t working we quickly moved to unplugged, shared devices, and completed Kodable lessons together. Just because a problem comes up doesn’t mean that there is any reason to panic, and this experience clearly demonstrated this. Instead, it gave us a great opportunity to pair program, answer questions, and work together on a number of programming challenges.

The Kodable Road Tour is flying by! Join in on the fun by following our daily updates…and support the cause by buying an AWESOME Kodable T-Shirt. 🙂

Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts

Kodable Road Trip: Day 3

The Kodable Road Tour

Neal and I kicked off day three bright and early in Maplewood, NJ, where we were enjoying some great New England spring time weather. 😀

First Stop: Clinton Elementary

Welcome to Clinton Library!
Welcome to Clinton Library!

What we learned: 

We did some advanced looping with the third grade coders of Clinton Elementary. The students we talked to all showed great interest in learning to code, so we decided to jump in to loops during the unplugged activity. After doing the unplugged version of loops, we projected Kodable on the SMART board, so everyone could see how loops work in the game. We solved a couple lessons together, and talked about how these loops are different from loops they’ve done in other programs. Once everyone said they felt comfortable, we handed out the iPads for them to try on their own and in groups.

Take away: Talking about how the loops worked differently, solving a few lessons together, and preparing with discussion, helped the actual individual work go really smoothly.

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Favorite moment: During our conversation on bugs in programming, we diverted on to a science lesson on why insects are different from arachnids. Without thinking, I said arachnids were not bugs – WRONG! I was quickly reminded that arachnids are, indeed bugs. 🙂 +1 to Clinton Elementary first grade scientists.

Question for the Kodable community: Do you know any good programming books for kids?
The great Jen Latimer is looking for some titles to add to their selection and I thought our #KidsCanCode and Kodable family would be the best place to start. Leave any suggestions in the comments or tweet at Jen personally: @jenlatimer

Some ideas:

Hello Ruby” – by Linda Liukas

What do you do with an Idea?” – by Kobi Yamada (Not programming, but still great. I just bought it for my niece)

Second Stop: Marshall Hill School

Marshall Hill School
Look at all those lovely fuzzes!

What we learned: 

Conditions have always been one of the hardest things for me to explain. I’m always trying new ways to make such an abstract concept seem more concrete. Logically, it is simple to understand, “If this, then that,”  but because it is such a logical expression it is hard to make it concrete in language the littles can understand.

Today, I tried out a new way of explaining it: “When your mom is giving directions to your dad when he is driving, how does he know when to turn? If she doesn’t tell him to turn he’ll keep doing straight. We have to give the fuzzes specific instructions telling them where to turn, or they’ll keep going straight. We give them the signal to turn by using colors.”

I’m going to keep trying this as we continue on the road tour. Perhaps it will make it’s way into the next revision of the Kodable Learning Guide on Conditions. Will you give it a try? Let me know how it goes in the comments!

IMG : Expert coders working on conditions.
Expert coders working on conditions.

Favorite moment: Seeing all of the beautiful fuzzes the kids had colored for us. The walls were covered with new fuzz ideas! <3

The future: 

Everyone at Marshall Hill is on board with coding. It was wonderful to see all of the staff so engaged and excited about getting their students in to programming. Cindy Ranieri and Laura Oaks (@LauraOakes31) are doing a great job of building a community around coding, and they hope to continue that next year with more integration.

 

Kodable Road Trip: Day 2

The Kodable Road Tour

Today, the #KodableRoadTrip took us to Wilmington, DE and Newtown Square, PA, where we got a chance to visit with some awesome teachers and students preparing to take programming to the next level!

First Stop: Tatnall School

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What we learned: It’s never too early to start learning loops 

When we first began our lesson with Tatnall’s 3rd graders, we expected to cover the basics of sequence, debugging, and review/practice the specificity needed to create a detailed and effective computer program. However, once we were 5 minutes into our lesson, we realized that our 3rd graders needed more of a challenge, and were ready to take on more advanced programming concepts. Our fuzzFamily frenzy screen-free activity soon transformed into a loopy lesson, and students began explaining/demonstrating when to use a loop, how to create one, and why they are important for programmers. In the startup world, it is always important to know when to pivot when working on your product, and the same can be true in the classroom when teaching a programming lesson as well!

What’s happening in the future 

Colleen Hoban spoke with us at length about her amazing and ambitious plans to organize a Parent Tech Night for Tatnall School. Once the school completes a few wifi fixes, she plans to get started and is looking for more ideas. We did our best to offer our advice, but we would like to hear from more educators as well! Please send some tips to Colleen via Twitter @ColleenHoban.

Favorite/Most Memorable Moment: “What is binary?”

We all had a good laugh when Grechen began “reviewing” with Tatnall’s 1st graders the basics of binary. After a few confused looks, our 1st graders quickly reminded us that we had never spoken to them about binary. Grechen was a little reluctant to admit her senior moment, but I believe that one of the basic tenets as an Elementary School teacher is that 1st graders are a little like elephants, they never forget.

Moral of the story: Never question 1st graders memory.

Second Stop: Episcopal Academy

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What we learned: The importance of smooth transitions 🙂 

Our 1st grade students at Episcopal were immediately ready for a challenge once we walked through the door, and we quickly dove into the basics of functions (I know! Amazing, right?!),  even writing a detailed program in pseudocode. After 3 students successfully acted out our program as a robot, we jumped into trying a few functions lessons in Kodable. While there were many students that made this transition seamlessly, as we walked around the room, we realized that there were a few students that could have used a few more examples or some extra help. With the help and experience of the wonderful Maggie Powers (@mpowers3), we were able to help these students along and completed a very successful coding session.

Take away point: Never be afraid to walk through lessons together in Kodable after an unplugged activity. It can only help, and ensure that students have a firm grasp of a new programming concept.

Favorite/Most Memorable Moment: “Mr. Neal, is Kodable supposed to work this way?”

My favorite moment at Episcopal Academy came when a student asked me to come take a look at a problem he was having in Kodable. Now, to provide a little background, when we rigorously test Kodable in our office, many times we do not have enough time or the resources on hand to put an update through the 6-8 finger test. The 6-8 finger test generally comes into play when 3 or 4 students get so excited about Kodable, they all tap the screen at the same time, resulting in some interesting behavior. Our young student managed to find an interesting bug putting Kodable through the 6-8 finger test, and we had a great talk about how sometimes there is not just a bug when playing Kodable, but there are actual real-life bugs in the game itself. He seemed to have stumbled upon the latter, and we provided him with a sticker for being an awesome beta tester.

Memorable Moment Part 2: “Let me explain to you the details of game animation…and python” 

Sometimes, I am just amazed at what students already know. Case in point, an Episcopal Academy student explained to us the details of game animation, articulating exactly how it works, while another suggested that Python would be a great programming language to work. After moments like these, I often have to remind myself who the one is giving the presentation and who is the first grader.

Day 2 is in the books! Don’t forget to support and join in on the fun for the Kodable Road Tour and order a #KodableRoadTour T-Shirt!

Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts

 

Kodable Road Tour: Day 1

The Kodable Road Tour

Today, we kicked off the first leg of our Kodable Road Tour in Maryland and got off to an AWESOME start!

After beginning our journey eastward on Sunday at 4am local time in San Francisco…

Kodable Road Tour San Francisco
Those are some sleepy faces!

…we arrived in Baltimore ready to rock and roll. It was time to begin teaching some programming!

First Stop

The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland where we talked about loops and binary – and just how many planets the fuzzes should definitely visit!

Lots of collaboration with pair programming!

What we learned: The versatility of going screen free
I’ve always loved the Fuzz Family Frenzy, because it’s simple to explain and a LOT of fun. However, today it was even better. We took the activity a step further and created our own commands as a class to define exactly how many degrees our robot (Neal Rooney) should turn and how high it should jump.

We also talked about how the code gets redundant when you have to repeat “left foot, right foot”. That spurred a great lesson about how loops work and how they’re key to more efficient coding. I’ll definitely be adding that lesson to my tool belt. 🙂

Fuzz Family Frenzy using loops
Here you can see some of our code using loops. (and instructions to jump 2 feet!)

What’s happening in the future: Debi Krulak (@MrsKatBL) plans to integrate coding into more lesson plans as the lower school media specialist. She says knowing where everyone is at with in Kodable helps to know when to stop and spend more time talking about a concept. She had a great idea to use screen free activities as a way to asses how well students are able to apply the lessons they learn in another scenario.

Favorite moment: A comical and adorable conversation about how computers can’t understand sarcasm.

Next, we headed down to Annapolis for our second stop of the day!

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Second Stop

St. Martin’s In-The-Field Episcopal School, where we learned about the great Grace Hopper and that testing our code can prevent bugs.

Team debugging!
A deep discussion involving bugs and testing.

What we learned: Kids understand much more than we think they do

Neal and I talked to a group of first and second graders and then a group of third and fourth graders. It was interesting to see the older students grasp the concepts of sequential thinking and giving a computer commands really quickly.

The extra time gave us the opportunity to try something new and talk about concepts like variables and functions. We presented the new ideas in a simple and easy to digest way: modifying the class’s original Fuzz Family Frenzy code. We added specifics like degrees of a turn, length of our steps, an height of our jumps. We also discussed how that program could be assigned as a function and used again later by calling on the name we gave it.

We had a lot of fun with these brilliant first graders!

What’s happening in the future: Karen White and other teachers at her school are starting an iLab! She’s a firm believer in the power of playing to learn and wants her students to get their hands dirty working with a variety of new technologies.

Favorite moment: Seeing the power of Kodable as a break from testing, and getting to be the run-away robot when we had a bug in our Fuzz Family Frenzy code.

BONUS: We enjoyed a bit of down time at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Wow! It definitely made me a proud American.

Grechen
Boat selfie 😀
Neal
Look! More boats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day down and another to go! Thank you to both schools for your kindness and hospitality. We’re loving every minute so far and we can’t wait to see more schools!

Also, don’t forget to join the fun and support the Kodable Road Tour! Check out the neat T-Shirts we created just for the trip!

Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts

 

The Kodable Road Tour Starts Now

The Kodable Road Tour

The time for the Kodable Road Tour has finally come! As of this very moment we are putting the finishing touches on our packing, and preparing to embark on our journey to teach programming to schools all across the country.

Here are some quick stats for the Kodable Road Tour:

  • Traveling for 21 days
  • Visiting 15 states
  • Journeying a total of 7,967 miles
  • Holding workshops at 30 schools
  • Working with close to 1,500 students
  • Eating a year’s worth of fast food

Where in the world is Kodable?

Start: Sunnyvale, CA

Kodable Road Trip Baltimore

Destination: Baltimore, MD

Be sure to keep an eye on the blog, as we will keep you up-to-date on our progress and recount our experience at each school we visit. We will also be sharing our stories via Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, don’t forget to order Kodable gear along the way! Check out our awesome Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts.

Kodable Road Trip T-Shirts

The Kodable Road Tour

The Kodable Road Tour

Pack up the minivan, we’re hitting the road! The Kodable Team is dedicating the month of May to visiting as many schools as possible to teach programming, and we want your school to be on our list!

Fill out an application to apply and make your school one of our stops along our incredibly coding journey. Space is limited, so please only enter your information if you are seriously interested. 🙂

The Kodable Road Tour

Migrating from Kodable Class to Kodable Webinar

Kodable Class Migration Webinar

Did you miss our migration webinar? Do you still have questions about the Kodable Class to Kodable migration? Watch our migration webinar in its entirety below!

Still have questions?

Take a look at our Migration Guide or read through our Migration FAQ.  And as always, feel free to contact us at support@kodable.com.

 

 

Thank You

Thank You from Kodable

This was originally published on the Kodable blog on October 16, 2013

We started Kodable because we wanted to help prepare kids for a bright future by helping them learn a valuable skill. We are amazed at the positive impact Kodable has had on programming education in such a short time.

Since we released Kodable in the App Store last November, kids in over 70 countries have begun learning how to program. Kodable has allowed students in kindergarten all the way to 8th grade begin their programming education. The best part – over half of them are girls! Teachers are empowered with a tool to enable them to teach programming, and parents are bonding with their kids over a common interest. We are thrilled to be the first step so many take on their journey to digital literacy.

So, I’d like to thank all the parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and others who are teaching the kids they love to program using Kodable. You all are great! Keep it up! You are truly helping children form a brighter future with the concepts they learn in Kodable.

We created this blog as a way to keep you connected as we continue to grow and challenge your kids in new ways. You can come here for help, humor, programming information, Kodable news and more! We want to make this a place to learn, share and grow, so don’t be afraid to give feedback. We want to hear from you!

Grechen