5 Ways to Blast Back to School with Kodable!

A new year is here! We hope you had a great time chillaxing by the pool.

It’s time for another great school year. Kodable has tons of resources to help you get ready for the new year of teaching coding to your class!

 

Deck out your classroom! 

 

Inspire coding excellence. We have dozens of images, posters, and coloring sheets to decorate your class.

Image pack download ->

“5 Reasons to Teach Coding” Classroom Poster

Fuzz Coloring sheet

Back to School Kit 

All the resources you need to tell your school community about your plans to help your students learn to code are included in this post about “5 Tips for Back to School Night”.

Read the full post here ->

Back to School Webinar

Whether you’re new to Kodable or returning for another year of coding in your classroom, Brie Gray is here to help you have a successful launch! Brie walks you through setting up your classes, teaching your first lesson, assigning content to your students, as well as recapping some improvements we made over the past year.

3 Back to School Lesson Plans

The wise and wonderful Brie Gray prepared three lesson plans specifically for introducing your students to your classroom and to prepare them for your management style.

Exploring Digital Citizenship with Coding

K-2 Back to School Procedures Mini-lesson

3-5  Culture Team Builders + Code

Tools to Share with Parents

Parents are an important part of your classroom culture. Help them understand what their child is learning and why it is important!

Send home a letter that tells them all about how you’ll be teaching their child to code. Edit it however you like! Letter to Parents ->

Let your students continue learning at home. You can print instructions for them to access Kodable at home. Parent Instructions ->

When students master a concept, share the celebration with their biggest cheerleaders! Send home a snazzy certificate. Just go to the current unit you’re teaching and click Print Student Certificates ->

Full Implementation: Step 4 to Implementing Computer Science in Elementary

This is the final piece of our 4 part series covering each stage of implementing computer science in elementary school, based on thousands of conversations with educators. 

Full implementation- it’s go time! You’re ready to implement computer science in elementary schools when you’ve found a program that has proven benefits and met your goals. Testing the program out in the form of a pilot with a small sample group helps you analyze outcomes to better understand your long term goals. At this point you are ready to roll the program out on a school or district level and fully offer computer science to your students. HOORAY!

What Does Full Implementation Mean?

  • What is full implementation? Full implementation is the adoption of a new program or curriculum at a school-wide or district-wide level. This is what you’ve been building up to!
  • Who is involved? Administration, teachers (tech and general education), parents, and at times the Superintendent. This is an all-hands on deck situation; shiny and new! Everyone has a different role with varying degrees of involvement when full implementation is happening post-pilot. Expect the technology teacher, general classroom teachers, and administration to be on the “front lines.”
  • Logistics: You should already know how and where computer science fits into the daily schedule (for each class, grade, and the school) from testing the waters during the pilot stage.  The progression of the program is clear.  You have an actionable plan to meet goals and move students through the program successfully.  Pilots are often free or less costly, but moving to full implementation almost always includes purchasing. Get our purchasing tips and helpful funding ideas and don’t forget to share pilot data with decision makers!
  • Goals, learning objectives, and data: Results (qualitative and quantitative data) from the pilot stage have been analyzed and goals have been clearly defined for a full rollout of the program. Objectives are clear and the entire team is prepared to collect data during the first few years of implementation. It’s important to note that full implementation takes time to evolve beyond year 1-set goals for years 1-5 and each year adjust the structure accordingly
  • Staff Involvement: Every school or district is different! However, across the board we see professional development as a key ingredient to success. Teachers need to be prepared and have access to any and all resources that will ease the transition. It can make or break the implementation process!

4 Tips for Fully Implementing Computer Science

1. Prepare the Team!

Implementing a new program of any kind requires getting everyone on the same page and feeling confident.

  • Make sure teachers have the knowledge they need through proper staff training, professional development (ongoing!) and resources to implement computer science.
  • Help general classroom teachers understand the program if computer science is going to be specific to technology class. Get them involved by inviting them to your classroom
  • Allow collaborative planning time for staff . This will help students have consistency across classes and classroom teachers to integrate computer science into math and ELA. Need collaborative planning ideas? Get them here!

2. Show, Don’t Tell

Don’t talk about it, show it! The pilot is going to be a key factor in showing the value of implementing computer science in classrooms and setting the tone for those getting started.  You can talk about something great until you’re blue in the face (or your audience is falling asleep). The magic comes when people see and interpret the value on their own.

  • Have photos, data, and student work examples available for others to see (in the classroom, hallways, website). Read about one of our star teachers, Brian Adams, and how he shared the value of computer science with his students’ families!
  • Present to other teachers and parents at meetings or family nights.  Older students can show their work, demonstrate how to use the program, and display what they’ve learned!
  • Create opportunities for new computer science teachers to watch others; specifically teachers who gained experience during the pilot stage.

3. Goals, Goals, Goals

Use the pilot experience to show the importance of goal-setting and help you set long-term goals. Model for other teachers how to set computer science goals and think beyond just one year.

  • What do you want students to be able to do?
  • How do you want to integrate computer science across content areas?
  • How do you want to see students apply what they’re learning?
  • What academic results are you looking for?

Thinking beyond one year will allow you to see big-picture goals and think about the ultimate, end goal you have for all students. The second half of setting a goal is keeping up with it! Successful implementation means monitoring your goals. Check in with teachers and students regularly and iterate if necessary.

4. Include Parents!

 

According to 90% of parents in the U.S., computer science education is something they want their kids to have as part of their schooling. More often than not, families want to be included and help in some way.

Not sure how to get parents involved? Here are some favorite ways our Kodable teachers have shared with us:

  • Communicate: Be transparent and equip parents with the knowledge needed to be a part of it! Send home letters from both teacher and student, share about your school implementing computer science on your school or class website, and give parents the opportunity to see it in action.
  • Homework: Send home information about the program and how students can practice at home. Homework can be fun!
  • Family coding night: Students act as teachers and show parents how to code! This can be exciting for everyone and really empowers students and gives them ownership.
  • Family conferences: Students lead the conference and talk about their progress, challenges, and successes. Teachers act as facilitators and students lead the conference.

Have you gone from piloting a computer science program to fully implementing in your school or district? We want to hear about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Piloting: Step 3 to Implementing Computer Science in Elementary

This is part 3 of a 4 part series where we will cover each stage of implementing computer science in elementary school based on thousands of conversations with educators.

After casual exposure and experimentation with multiple options, you’ve had your “WOW!” moment and you’re ready to pilot one program with structured goals and meaning. When piloting anything new with goals of expansion down the road, you likely have the support of administration and colleagues and are no longer the lone wolf. We’ve worked with thousands of teachers and administrators in this stage of implementing computer science in elementary.  Here are some tips to successfully move from a small-scale pilot to full implementation.

What does a pilot look like?

  • What is the  pilot stage? The pilot stage comes after casual exposure and a structured experimentation and is the initial launch of one specific program. The pilot stage is the final step before a full, school or district-wide implementation and serves as a “test run” to prepare and learn from.
  • Who is involved? In the pilot stage, school administration is involved, as well as at least one teacher participating in the pilot. At the district level, a superintendent may be involved as well, and parents are aware of the pilot programming happening in the community.
  • Logistics: School-specific logistics are hashed out in the pilot stage. This includes who is teaching, how often, where the program fits into the daily schedule, what resources are used, what devices are being used and how.
  • Goals, learning objectives, and data: Goals and learning objectives are clearly defined, and a method of data collection is established to evaluate the results of the pilot. This is essential moving forward, as data-driven results will drive instruction and support the value of the program you’re piloting before implementing on a larger scale.
  • Training: The teacher or teachers piloting the program are prepared and have taken the time to get to know the tools they’ll be using. At this stage, teachers should feel confident and supported.

5 Tips for Piloting a Computer Science Program

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Set clear, measurable goals.

Leading up to a pilot, you’ve experimented with different programs and your goals have developed or shifted accordingly. When kicking off a program pilot, your goals need to be clearly defined and measurable in order to evaluate data or results that demonstrate student outcomes. This is essential to move forward; your administration will want and need to see data that proves results and supports the awesome anecdotal proof you’re gathering in your classroom.  We suggest sitting down and writing out your goals for the year before getting started with your students! Feeling ambitious? Set goals for the next 5 years! You’ll get anidea of where you want to end up.

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Start small.

School districts start small by piloting programs in a few schools before adopting a district-wide program. At the school level, we often see pilots beginning with one class or grade (depending on the school size). Then you can expand to include the whole school. By starting small, you have a more focused sample size that you can work with intensely, establish logistics, and flexibly bend as you learn during the pilot.

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Let people in on the magic!

To go from a pilot to a school-wide program, you need support from administration, colleagues, and parents. You want everyone to be excited about the learning process and potential. Help everyone understand the extent of what you’ve started!

Invite administration, colleagues, and parents to see you teach a lesson. If you can’t (or your colleagues can’t) find a way to witness it live:

  • Record a lesson and ask for time to present at PD or a school event like Open House or Coding Night.
  • Share documentation and photos on your classroom walls, bulletin board, or class website.
  • Have students present and talk about the work they are doing and show parents and staff how to use the program.

Having support and excitement during the pilot is a catalyst for full implementation and will get everyone excited about computer science in elementary.

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Have a scalable plan.

Consider logistics that will affect the whole school before starting the pilot:

  • What devices will be used and are there enough?
  • Does the school have security or firewall issues that will need to be resolved?
  • Is there opportunity or time to train staff?
  • Will it be isolated to technology or integrated with the classroom teachers?
  • Is there a plan to purchase (budget money set aside, grants written, funding secured) and is everyone on board?
  • How will it work in the schedule (daily, once a week, used during one quarter or semester, etc.)?

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Being prepared is half the victory.

It is important that the teacher or teachers piloting the program are prepared. Take the extra time to review the program with everyone participating, and offer training to those who need it. Contact the program or software company to see if they offer professional development or support to teachers piloting the program. Being prepared will pay off in the long run!

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Fail forward.

You will fail. Failing forward is about embracing failure as a learning experience. Utilize the opportunity to be better next time, knowing the purpose of a pilot is to learn and prepare. At times, you may feel like you’re in over your head or you may not see the immediate value in what you’re doing but approach the experience ready to fail forward. It will have long-lasting benefits personally and professionally!

Have you conducted a pilot in your school? Tell us about something you learned in the comments! 

Experimentation: Step 2 to Implementing Computer Science in Elementary

This is part 2 of a 4 part series where we will cover each stage of implementing computer science in elementary school based on thousands of conversations with educators.

An iPad loaded with all of the latest and greatest coding apps can make you feel like a kid in a candy store: you want to sample everything before making a decision. Thousands of teachers started using Kodable as part of a “try it all and see what sticks” experimentation, are now implementing a computer science curriculum in their elementary schools. We have learned a lot from teachers about the experimental stage of computer science education and how it can lead to piloting one CS program school-wide and we’re excited to share our favorite tips!

What does the experimental stage look like?

  • What is the experimental stage? The experimental stage comes after casual exposure to coding and programming education in the form of apps, games, or unplugged activities not necessarily aligned with any objectives.  This stage is centered around exploration and experimenting with what will work, answering the question, “How can we implement this with more meaning?” Experimentation often takes the form of small-scaled structure around coding; usually after school coding clubs, lunch clubs, or coding in an after school setting.
  • Who is involved? At the experimental stage, it’s often one teacher (usually the technology teacher), after school staff, or volunteers getting their feet wet with coding. Sometimes the administration is leading the charge, or has programming on their radar but not ready to fully implement a clear structure for the school yet. The experimental stage is monumental in laying the groundwork for a strong support system and eventual large-scale rollout.
  • What resources are used? Teachers start with what’s free. Once it’s clear that a program has enough value to be purchased, schools find a way to get funding or include it in the budget. We almost always see teachers start with free content, trial periods, or free programs and once the benefits are clear the purchasing process begins. Closer to the pilot and implementation stages is when the financial investments for full computer science programs happen over  apps and free trial lessons.
  • What logistics are on the radar? During the experimental stage, the nitty gritty details aren’t quite hashed out but are important to be thinking about. Teachers are trying different things to find the best structure, where coding can fit into the schedule, and thinking about how to implement a fully structured program with meaning.
  • Where do goals and learning objectives come into play? Goals are essential to rolling out any new academic program, and computer science is no different. Without objectives, there won’t be meaning or a way to measure student outcomes. At the experimental stage, goals are unclear but exploring various options helps teachers define their goals. Seeing different possibilities and potential allows teachers and administration to define clear goals and eventually dive deeper into one program that is aligned with desired student outcomes.

So, how do you decide on which program you want to pilot?

Identify Benefits

During the experimentation stage, a lot of the decision comes down to potential. From the little bit you’ve seen, is there potential for academic value? Are students engaged? Does the program offer useful tools that you will need as a teacher and school to fully implement (content,resources, training for teachers, opportunities to learn, ability to track student data, etc.)? Once you can think about all of the different options, you should be able to answer which will have the most benefit for students and teachers to set everyone forward on a path to computer science success.

Assess Academic Value

There’s a huge and important difference between playing and learning. It’s important to consider which apps are unstructured and leave room for students to play without learning. Learning for elementary students can and should happen through playing, but the play needs to be structured and grounded in logic.  Choose an option that teaches and requires students to apply fundamental programming concepts.  Noting which apps seem to be rooted in logic and content that is supported with pedagogy will really help you make your decision- and will likely help you secure funding to implement on a larger scale.

Evaluate Feasibility

To move forward toward piloting a program, feasibility must be considered. Which program is one that provides proper resources, training, and professional development and permits staff to carry it out? Are there enough devices (iPads, Chromebooks, computers, etc.) for the programs you’re exploring or unplugged lessons to make it work? Can the staff commit to set up, training, and getting started? Answering these questions will help you see if there are any major roadblocks with the programs you’re exploring or minor bumps to iron out before piloting with one specific program.

Observe Collaboration

Programming is a unique subject area as it lends itself to (and at times depends on) collaboration. Consider which option allows for students to work together, share their work, talk about what they’re doing, or explain programming logic. Which option allows for teachers to seamlessly work together? Is there a program you’ve seen that has potential for students and teachers to learn and collaborate with each other? A program that encourages students to work in isolation and doesn’t teach them the language they need to practice metacognition or outwardly piece together what they’re working on may not be the right path to go down.

As you get ready to move into the third stage of implementing computer science in elementary, piloting a CS program, you’ll need to really start thinking about your goals and what program aligns. Once you do that, you’re ready to run with it! We’ve seen some amazing teachers narrow in and roll out successful pilots, and we’re excited to share their stories with you in parts 3 and 4 of our blog series next week.

Have you been experimenting with a variety of computer science programs? We’d love to hear how you narrowed in on a program that works for you and your school- leave it in the comment section below!

Casual Exposure: Step one to implementing computer science in elementary

This is the first in a 4 part series where we will cover each stage of implementing computer science in elementary school based on thousands of conversations with educators.

Getting started in teaching computer science can seem like a daunting task. Many educators never start out thinking they will make it a long term thing. Many of the trailblazing educators who are now implementing a complete K-5 coding curriculum started out with one hour in December three years ago. This was their first introduction to computer science and the magic it can bring to an elementary classroom. It marked the beginning of the first step in implementing computer science in elementary with casual exposure to programming concepts.

 

What does the first step to implementing computer science in elementary look like?

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Who is involved?

Everyone is aware that there is some coding happening. Usually on a specific day or at a scheduled event. Teachers are often mildly interested until they see the spark of creativity, engagement, and collaboration happening in their students. Parents are also involved at this point through PTA volunteers or a special interest.

 

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What resources do people use?

Schools often download and install dozens of apps, tools, and resources for their students to play with and explore. This phase is characterized by unstructured learning through play. Don’t be afraid to try everything until you find what sticks!

 

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How much time is spent on coding?

Since this is a step characterized by exploration, many educators allow students to code during free-choice time and keep an eye on what tools are being chosen the most and what they’re learning from the exploration. Allow students to play in their own time, but don’t be afraid to schedule 30 minutes a week for free coding.

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What are the goals?

Since this step starts with a casual interest, there often aren’t defined goals. However, you will find that as you and your students spend more time coding, you’ll begin to get ideas about goals for your future in computer science. Keep these in mind, because they will be crucial to your progress in later steps.

 

Moving forward and implementing computer science in elementary

We see a lot of teachers get their start with Kodable through casual exposure- events like the Hour of Code, an iPad loaded with a variety of educational tools and apps for free time, or hearing about us from other teachers. So, how have our teachers run with this type of CS exposure and turned it into a full programming curriculum at their schools?  Here are some tips from our champion teachers.

 

  • Set Goals
    It’s hard to know what the best fit is without clear computer science goals for your school. Think about what you want everyone to get out of it- then you can move forward to find your best fit.
  • Test multiple programs and apps
    There’s a lot out there! How does each program or app you’re using align with your goals for student outcomes? Can you combine a few for the ultimate year of elementary CS? What will best fit with your schedule and make the most sense for you?
  • Get student feedback
    Are students not only loving the programs you’re using but learning and excited about learning? What are parents and other teachers hearing students talk about and engaged with? Talk to students about what they like, how it is helping them learn, and what their own goals are moving forward.
  • Drive your decisions with data and engagement
    If you notice student engagement like you’ve never seen before and it’s trickling into other content areas, run with the momentum! Maybe math scores are improving and critical thinking skills are shining- clear signs to see what benefits could lay ahead.

Moving to Step 2: Structured Experimentation can take some time, but keep working at it. There’s no one size fits all solution. We are all still figuring out how to implement computer science. Stay tuned for the next part of our series. We’ll dive deep into Step 2 and discuss tips and characteristics of the phase.

 

Does this sound familiar to you? Tell us how you got started with coding! Have you moved to step 2? Share your tips in the comments!

The 4 Steps to Implementing Computer Science in Elementary School

This is the kick-off post in a 4 part series where we will cover each stage of implementing computer science in elementary school based on thousands of conversations with educators.

While the month of June brings a lull to the toil from the school year, we’re working hard to set you up with the resources you’ll need this summer as you prepare to do it all over again. Over the next four weeks, we’ll be taking the lessons we learned from our teachers this school year and sharing their coding implementation stories from beginning to end.

Over the past 3 years, computer science in elementary has come a long way. Trailblazing schools who were just getting started, have now fully integrated Computer Science into their curriculum. While the majority of schools are on their way to that point. At Kodable, we focus on talking to as many people as possible and working hard to meet their needs regardless of the stage of implementation. In these thousands of conversations, the four stages of implementing computer science in elementary school have become very clear.

The 4 Steps to Implementing Computer Science in Elementary School

Casual Exposure

The first step in teaching computer science in elementary school is often prompted by a colleague or community interest in the Hour of Code or other event promoting computer science awareness. The engagement and clear benefits of programming sparks further exploration. Schools often download and install dozens of apps, tools, and resources for their students to play with and explore. This phase is characterized by unstructured learning through play. Teachers are intrigued but apprehensive about doing more than proving the resources to their students. Students, however, are extremely engaged and encouraged to pursue whatever resource they choose. These are both important steps leading to the next phase of computer science integration.

Structured Experimentation

After testing the waters with various apps and tools, teachers have a “WOW!” moment with one (or a few) and decide to think seriously about how to use it in a structured way. Teachers start to think about how it can be used to further student learning, and how they can seriously make it part of their work. Not yet ready to hash out the nitty gritty details or objectives, teachers are mostly narrowing in on what seems to be the best fit. A lot of schools establish a club, after school, lunch or recess program for their students to test the conclusions they made in the Casual Exposure phase. This paves the way for teachers and admins to begin thinking about more goal-oriented programming experience for students.

Goal-Oriented Piloting

In this stage, teachers have seen clear benefits of a program or tool and are committed to finding a way to make it happen in their school. Clearly defined goals and objectives come in here, and a curriculum is tested with results that can be shared with others as an example. In the pilot stage, we often see one classroom starting the implementation, and then rolling the program out fully at the school or district level after seeing positive results. Some things to consider during this stage: Scheduling, devices, big-picture structure, and teaching time dedicated to programming.

Clearly Defined Implementation

After piloting, benefits and engagement are clear and the program is ready to be rolled out school or district-wide. A 1 to 5 year plan is in place, with support from administrators and key stakeholders. There is a clear momentum around programming education and the direct connection with academic achievement- this is an exciting time! As the program rolls out beyond the pilot, the number of students gaining access to programming education gradually expands.

It feels nice to FINALLY document all of this learning so that other educators can know what to expect in each of these phases. In this four-part series, we will dig deep into our knowledge banks and cover each stage in detail for you to use as a reference while your school forges ahead down this new path.

You can read more about the first stage here: Casual Exposure – the first step in elementary computer science.

What do you think of these four stages? Do you see similar things in your school or community? What stage is your school at?

The Kodable Programming Curriculum is LIVE!

It’s been awhile in the making, but we are proud to announce that the new Kodable Curriculum is now LIVE and can be accessed right from your Kodable Teacher Dashboard! To explore these exciting new changes simply:

1. Visit Kodable.com

2. Login to your Teacher Account in the top right hand corner:

3. And voilà! Welcome to your new Kodable Programming Curriculum!

Kodable Programming Curriculum Dashboard

What’s included in the new Kodable Programming Curriculum?

Thousands of educators have been teaching their students basic programming concepts with Kodable for over a year. The focus of the new Kodable Programming Curriculum is to make teaching these coding concepts even easier.

Organized by concept, the new Kodable Programming Curriculum is a step-by-step guide to teaching your students the basics of programming.

Teaching Programming by Concept

Kodable Programming Curriculum: Sequence

The Kodable Programming Curriculum covers the most important programming concepts for beginners:

  • Sequence
  • Conditions
  • Loops
  • Functions
  • Variables (Coming Soon!)

Teaching programming concepts can often be intimidating, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to start.

Don’t worry! 

In the new Kodable Programming Curriculum we divide each programming concept into digestible and time efficient units. These units are also chock-full of teaching resources to help you along the way:

  • Concept Learning Guides
  • Unplugged Activities
  • Kodable Lessons
  • Lesson Answer Keys
  • Concept Vocabulary

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Brand New Programming Lessons

To supplement the new Kodable Programming Curriculum we have also added brand new Kodable lessons for the following programming concepts:

  • Sequence
  • Algorithms
  • Debugging

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More coming soon!

Over the course of the next few months, we will be adding resources and making improvements to the curriculum. So keep an eye out for future updates!

Kodable Web

#KidsCanCode News: Using Classroom Tech Effectively

Join us for KidsCanCode every Tuesday

A BYOT plan can be challenging.  However, Michael Mills outlines some essential ideas for successfully using the power of technology for learning, regardless of your school’s budget. (via MindShift)

Kids using the ipad using a BYOD plan

 

Instead of traditional activities at camp this summer, these young Girl Scouts designed and constructed a cabin for their entire staff. (via CBS13 Sacramento)

 

Sam Patterson has never met a teacher who began teaching because of what they didn’t know.  Experienced in English, rhetoric, and poetry, Sam is now a K-5 technology teacher that encourages us to put aside our fears, and reframe technology as a medium. (via My Paperless Classroom)

2 myths about programming in primary 

Offering “pay what you want” enrollment and utilizing a BYOT plan, Digital Harbor has been able to offer young students the opportunity to become active producers of technology this summer. (via Philadelphia Public School Notebook)

This year, Great Britain begins its mandatory programming curriculum.  What does this mean for coding in the United States?  Christopher Mims explores how established and available online curriculums can effectively serve both teachers and students. (via Wall Street Journal: Digits)

girlswhocode is a program that steers high schoolers towards programming

 

Interested in learning more about programming in the classroom?  Join us on Tuesdays at 8pm EST for our #KidsCanCode Twitter Chat!