Make aMAZE-ing Mazes with your students

Creative challenges allow students to express themselves and engage with new subject matter in a whole new way. Creative projects also help you, the teacher, understand how well students can apply information. Students can now customize, create, and solve their own mazes to challenge themselves and the class!

Build a maze and get creative with friends.

Apply knowledge of coding concepts learned along the Kodable journey.

Share creations with the class. Give love to your favorite mazes! 

Modify mazes from your classmates.

Return after more experience and exposure to see what new coding concepts have been unlocked.

5 Kodable Maze Maker Mini-Challenges

  1. Have students draw out and plan their mazes on paper before rolling through the online Maze Maker. Make sure if students are using conditions to write their “if-then rules” for getting through their maze.
  2. Students can practice writing instructions or “rules” to their maze so others will know what to look for.
  3. Tie-in math by counting how many squares were used in specific parts of the code or exploring and drawing shapes. 
  4. Create & design a maze with a partner. Switch devices to solve (and save!) the unique mazes. Have students make and solve at home!
  5. Allow each student to write a review of another student’s maze, then modify it to make a second iteration.

Visit your ship’s control panel to start exploring ->

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 ->

Beginning with Robotics!

Often the best way to introduce new computer science concepts to students is with tangible examples. The Kodable curriculum is full of such lessons and examples. Today we’re excited to be able to expand our curriculum with a truly tangible branch of computer science: robotics!

 

Why robotics is important

We often hear of teachers combining Kodable with a unit on robotics because it allows kids to explore functional hardware while learning about the more abstract concepts behind it all. Especially in lower elementary, kiddos start thinking about the world around them. Kodable Director of Curriculum, Brie Gray says, “Robotics gives students an opportunity to question how things work and dig deeply into the role individuals can play in creating, controlling, and working with machines.”

 

Kodable does robots!

Since we’re new to the world of robots, The Kodable team collaborated with Wonder Workshop to come up with a style of learning both teams felt would give teachers and students the strongest introduction. Brie’s goal was to, “help teachers see how easy it is to teach robotics and programming, separately and together! Both of these areas can easily be integrated into everyday life, and into core classroom subject areas.”

Robots work off of the same logic as computers and software. There are core constructs to the code used to control them.  In many ways, the lessons are reinforcing concepts students learn in other units of Kodable. The lesson structure and style follows the same three part (I do, we do, you do) model found in the rest of Kodable, but now there’s a physical object involved! The lessons still have independent practice on-screen for students, but include guided practice in Wonder Workshop’s Blockly app, and of course, Dash!

The robotics unit covers hardware and software, sequence, algorithms, loops, events, and functions. Followed by a four session (minimum) project focused on Design Thinking, which Brie says, “I honestly would love to participate in myself!” The priority is students learn while having fun and experience learning in a setting that allows them to ask questions, be wrong sometimes, try new things, and work together.

Robotics naturally lends itself to inquiry based learning, projects, and Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a method of minimizing the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging users through a series of prototypes to learn, test, and creatively refine concepts. Design thinking is a process we use daily at Kodable and I’m sure you follow in your own life as well.  The four part assessment encourages design thinking to foster and encourage creativity and collaboration in the classroom and the real world.

 

You don’t need robotics experience to get started!

Even if you have zero programming or robot knowledge, you still have all the information and materials needed to teach the lessons. Everything you need is included! The lessons are scripted, so Brie suggests, “read right off them if needed, or use them as a template for building your own if you find it doesn’t fit your style!” Most of this is new to everyone, so don’t be afraid to just dive in and learn along with your students! You’ll be rewarded with hands on engagement and a lot of learning.

Build Classroom Community with Coding Team Builders!

Back to school means old faces, new faces, and getting to know each other in a new classroom community. We know fostering collaboration and building an emotionally supportive environment positively impacts academic achievement and developing a community from the start is key.

Team building activities that promote critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving are a great way to kick off the year with your students and develop a strong sense of community that works together from day one. Traditional team builders like “The Human Knot” are great, but what if we could use coding and computer science concepts to get to know each other?

Here’s how:

Variables

In programming, variables store information in a program. The information is referred to as values, and can be either text or numbers. You can think of a variable like a container with a label that stores related items inside.

Strings

A string is a variable that stores values that are groups of characters, like a word or phrase. A great example of a string variable is a name: a name is a value that is used to identify a person.

Name Games: Back to school name games that help students get to know each other are a great opportunity to introduce string variables. Explain to students that they represent a variable and their name is a string that is a value associated with them. There are tons of name games out there, get creative and have fun!

A simple and silly name game that can get students thinking about string variables can be as basic as students going around a circle and choosing a word that goes with their name (their favorite food, sport, a rhyme, or a letter that matches the first letter in their name). For example, “Ashley Apples” or “Mike Bike”. Everyone says their own name and the names that came before to help get to know each other!

Integers

Integers are values that are written and stored as numbers.  Integers are variables that store values just like strings, only the values are numbers and not words.

Paper Bag Share:  Each student has a paper bag and labels the bag with a word or topic that describes something about them. The topic must relate to the student and needs to be something expressed in numbers. Get students thinking about things they have that will tell a little bit about them.

An example would be labeling the bag “Siblings” or “Pets”.  Students would write on a piece of paper how many siblings or pets they have (0, 2, 4, etc.) and place the value inside the bag. You can have students choose any topic  to represent a variable and have them place a related value inside.

Arrays

Arrays are ordered lists of variables that include both strings and integers. Arrays keep related values organized and in a specific order.

Time Capsule: As a class, make a time capsule for the year that represents an array.

  • Name the array based on the grade or class name, like “4th Grade.”
  • Students write down their expectations and goals for each month of the school year on separate pieces of paper.
  • Students place each of the 10 “values” inside the time capsule in order from September to June, keeping the values organized chronologically in the time capsule.

Object-Oriented Programming: Objects, Classes, and Properties

Objects and Classes

Classes hold information about an object and allow us to create new, individual objects based on these details. A helpful way to explain classes and objects to students is to think of basic classification: grouping objects based on their similarities and differences.

Activities that allow students to explore their similarities and differences will help students understand classes and objects in programming while getting to know each other.

Properties

Properties are special types of variables that are attached to an object and describe it.

Students can think about themselves as an object and things that they have as properties. Any team building activities that allow students to describe themselves and each other will help students understand properties and objects in programming.

We’ve gone ahead and created a sample activity for you that will help students in grades 3-5 learn about variables and properties while engaging in back to school team building.  Get it here:

DL Team Builders Here

Like what you see or have ideas? Leave it in the comments below!

Code your Back to School Procedures!

An elementary classroom without clear procedures for daily routines means chaos. As you head back to school and get your classroom operating like a well-oiled machine, consider including some coding concepts to make it fun and frontload computer science lessons you’ll teach later in the year!

How do classroom procedures relate to coding concepts?

Every transition throughout the day requires clear, rehearsed routines that keep everyone safe and in an efficient learning environment. Procedures help us avoid wasting precious time, keep students on track, and allow for 30+ humans to function together in one room- a miraculous feat when you think about it.

Procedures require order, rules, and often silly names that direct students to perform a certain set of actions (think “Criss-Cross Applesauce,” “Put a bubble in,” etc.). These are all elements of programming concepts used in programs to direct a computer to carry out tasks- making them perfect examples of how we can relate programming to real life for our students.

Sequence

We know that in programming, sequence is the order that commands are executed by a computer which allows us to carry out tasks that have multiple steps. In programming, we direct the computer to perform multiple steps in the correct order and it allows us to carry out a task.

In the classroom, students have to perform multi-step tasks as well, such as washing their hands, transitioning to lunch, or coming in from recess. Think about some routines that are specific to your classroom and how they are a sequence of steps put together: this is just like how a computer carries out tasks and will help students understand this process for computers.

Conditions

In programming, conditions are basic “if, then” logic statements that modify how code is executed; making them a key part of the decision-making process for computers. Conditional statements are basic cause and effect: “If this, then that.”

In the classroom, students experience conditional statements daily as they follow classroom rules and guidelines (or break them!).  Using conditional statements will help students think about and set classroom norms together, and make conditional statements easier to understand in programming down the road. Integrating conditional statements into classroom procedures will help students understand how stories can alter and the role programmers play in changing a computer program’s path.

Functions

Criss Cross Apple Sauce Function

 

In programming, a function is a named sequence of steps that can be reused and easily called on over and over again.

 

Classroom management strategies are a great example of a function: teaching students a sequence of steps and giving it a silly name that you can say without having to direct students through each step in the process, every time.

In the classroom, functions can be a lifesaver! Getting students to do a series of tasks in one motion by calling out a  name can keep things in order and on task; which is what we all want for a productive learning environment.

We’ve taken the time to make k-2 example mini-lessons that you can easily tailor to your own classroom procedures:

Download Mini Lessons Here

To help yourself understand the programming concepts and how they can be used with your back to school procedures, watch our videos and share your ideas in the comments below!

Social Emotional Learning via Digital Citizenship Lessons

The most important lessons we learn in life center around social-emotional learning and becoming safe, responsible, and respectful adults. As 21st century citizens and learners, it has become essential for schools to teach social skills that will keep students safe online and allow them to thrive as learners using digital tools.

Before taking to the internet, iPad, or any educational app, create a structure in your classroom that will prepare students for the online learning world. Here are some quick tips to set the digital tone and some of our favorite resources for teaching digital citizenship:

Teach a Device-Free Lesson First

Not only will it double as a team-builder and improve your classroom culture, but teaching a lesson on digital citizenship without being online has huge benefits when students eventually get online. Just as you would define clear routines and structure in your classroom, the online classroom needs the same level of attention. Priming your students for what’s to come will prepare and excite them when it’s time to try out that new program, app, or online lesson.

DigCitLP

Have Students Make Real Life Connections

Engage with your students in a class discussion around safety in real life. Get students to think about how they are safe, responsible, and respectful when face to face with others. This will help them understand the internet as a giant collection of very real people and things (including consequences); even though they can’t always see what’s on the other side.

Take Advantage of Resources

Although the need to explicitly teach digital citizenship is recent, there are already resources just a few clicks away. Some awesome teachers have shared their digital citizenship lessons on personal blogs, and there are even companies working to create material that saves you the planning time. Check out one of our favorites, Common Sense Media, which will give you access to all of the materials you and your students need to stay safe online- for free!

The internet is an amazing resource, and we’re seeing students rise to new levels with access to so many programs and opportunities. As educators, it’s our job to teach our students how to live in the digital world and make sure the internet continues to be a place they thrive.

Have ideas or opinions on digital citizenship? Leave it in the comment section below!

4 Earth Day Activities to Empower Your Students

Earth Day is quickly approaching. We can all take advantage of this chance to highlight what it truly means to take care of our planet.  Particularly in a time where every day seems to bring a new challenge for the human race.

There’s something extra special about seeing our students excel as human beings as well as academically. The proudest memories I had as a teacher go far beyond my students growing 3 grade levels in reading in one year. They include the not-so-small moments when I saw my students becoming awesome people.

Empowering our students to shine outside of the classroom is essential. It is also an excellent application of the critical thinking and problem-solving mindset we work so hard to cultivate. 

What on EARTH does this have to do with coding?

Computer Science is a living example of the 4 Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity). Coding gives limitless opportunity to innovate for the Earth’s well-being. Below are some tips to get students using their skill sets on Earth’s big day:

Share stories of inspirational (kid!) innovators.

This is a great way to cover some Common Core ELA standards, depending on what grade(s) you teach! Have students research and present on green energy and green technology inventions- we particular enjoy some of these kid inventor’s ideas.

If you’re up for renting or purchasing, check out the Code Girl documentary with a wide range of inspiring ideas to better Earth and humanity.

Use current events to encourage and inspire.

Share relevant issues that our Earth faces, tastefully presenting global issues that we can work together to solve in small (or big!) ways.

Some great places for kid-friendly current events are here and here. The National Education Association also has awesome lesson plans and activities that address current issues.

Give students a challenge!

Present an issue that Earthlings face today (one your students can understand and think critically about). Challenge students to apply the 4 Cs to come up with a creative solution—let them run with it! For Kodable’s Earth Day coding challenge, get our lesson plans and activities!

2

Lower Elementary Earth Day lesson (k-2)3
Upper Elementary Earth Day lesson (3-5)

Encourage teamwork and unity.

Caring for our planet is a responsibility we all share equally; one that holds us together despite our differences. As we look to better our planet, there is nothing more important than each of us sharing our talents and ideas in a productive way. Imagine what we can do by sharing, listening, and learning from each other? Try some of these awesome Scholastic team builders to promote working together on Earth Day and every day. “Recycled Goods” is great for PBL on Earth Day!

 

Whatever you decide to do on Friday, Aprill 22nd  to celebrate our planet with your students, we THANK YOU for equipping the future with humans who will have the skills needed to continue to innovate, invent, and take us for many more wild trips around the sun.
We want to hear and share about your Earth Day festivities! Send pictures, artwork, and activity ideas to 
brie@kodable.com.

 

 

 

 

Learn JavaScript with Kodable

It is a big day at Kodable! For the past three years, we have been working toward one goal: making it as easy as possible to teach programming in elementary school! Now we provide a complete K-5 programming curriculum to elementary schools. The Kodable 4th and 5th grade curriculum, Bug World, is now available!

harry-potter

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.51.55 PM

Your 4th and 5th grade students will journey with the fuzzFamily to the arid world of the bugs. They must use real JavaScript and learn about Object-Oriented Programming concepts such as Classes, Subclasses, Properties, Methods, and more!

With the release of Bug World, Kodable is now the world’s first all-inclusive programming curriculum for elementary schools taking students from learning to think like a programmer in Kindergarten to writing real code by 5th grade.

To celebrate, we’re making our 4th and 5th grade curriculum available for you to try with your students for FREE for the rest of the 2015-2016 school year!

 

Where this fits

Bug World is the first part of Kodable that teaches actual syntax, no blocks here! We seamlessly transition from our earlier, symbol-based lessons into JavaScript. In fact, if you look closely, you might see a few familiar things!Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 2.39.23 PM

The Bug World lesson plans and student content we are teaching advanced concepts often included in the first semester of college for computer science students. These concepts are not out of reach for your students, however, is intended for upper elementary students, or those that already have a solid foundation in our earlier content.

 

 Your 2nd graders having completed earlier parts of Kodable should already code on a 5th grade level.

The United States has already moved toward making coding a part of every child’s education with the recent CS for All Initiative. Bringing CS to every student has always been our goal, and our complete K-5 Programming Curriculum makes it that much easier for schools to begin teaching their students computer science in Kindergarten. By completing their study of JavaScript in 5th grade, students can explore other areas of computer science in middle and high school.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.10.59 PM

 

What it teaches

Our Object-Oriented Programming Curriculum teaches real computer science in a way that makes it accessible for young learners. To make this learning process as smooth as possible, we highly recommend following our lesson plans before moving to on-screen content.

We know that teaching computer science can be intimidating, but our mission has always been to make it as accessible to teachers without previous coding experience. This has never been truer than in our new content. The good news is that we’ve created some incredible resources, designed from the ground up by teachers, for teachers.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.12.07 PM

 

Each lesson plan includes vocabulary, learning objectives and a collaborative off-screen activity. You do not need any previous JavaScript or programming experience to teach and learn with your students.

 

 

 

 

 

Your students began their programming education on Smeeborg by learning about foundational coding concepts in isolation, such as:

  • Sequence
  • Conditions
  • Loops
  • Functions
  • Debugging

In Asteroidia, your students learned all about Variables, including:

  • Strings
  • Integers
  • ArraysScreen Shot 2016-02-19 at 1.44.57 PM

Our Object-Oriented programming curriculum (Bug World!) prepares students to write real, dynamic programs with actual programming syntax. Bug World revisits foundational concepts while teaching four new concepts:

  • Classes
  • Properties
  • Subclasses
  • Functions

Students will learn about these concepts off-screen and then take to their devices for independent practice. Your class will write classes, modify properties, make subclasses, and work with functions to engage in an exciting and dynamic program.

 

Why we chose JavaScript?

JavaScript is the most widely used language in the world, and powers virtually every website you visit. It is also the easiest language to get started with and see real results – which is incredibly powerful for captivating young learners. You and your students are going to learn an incredibly powerful technology that powers some of the biggest websites in the world, including Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.

Improvements in JavaScript recently (specifically, ECMAScript 6) has made it a viable, and powerful teaching tool for students.

 

What it means for you

Our curriculum and lesson plans are available now on your teacher dashboard. As with every other concept in Kodable, we have included complete, scripted lessons that you can dive into with your students.

Feel free to give it a whirl this spring! It is available to everyone from now until June 31st, 2016.

Get Started with your students

If your school is considering implementing coding on a K-5 scale, please feel free to reach out to us (support@kodable.com) about the scope and sequence of the Kodable Curriculum We’re happy to help you determine if it can fit your goals.

5 Tips for a Successful Back to School Night

Back to School Night is an exciting time to engage with families and start building relationships that will benefit students throughout the year and beyond.  Back to School Night typically comes after a full day of teaching, sometimes with a staff meeting sandwiched between the two.


Here are 5 tips that helped me with 5 successful Back to School Nights when I was teaching:

1. Set yourself up for success – Put out sign in sheets

In addition to having a main sign in sheet available when parents enter the room, placing one at every table proactively mitigates missing names and contact information for anyone in attendance. Sending an appreciation note, text, or e-mail the next day to those on the list is always a great starting point for parent communication.

2. Everyone likes to know what to expect – Give your guests an agenda

Having hard copies of the agenda on tables allows parents to relax, take their eyes of the clock, and engage with your presentation. No one really likes surprises, especially when little ones are in tow, dinner is waiting at home, or preparation for a busy tomorrow is looming.

3. Get organized – Recruit students to help set up your classroom

Intentionally organize your classroom for the evening and have materials ready (recruit student help!). Important, often overlooked details to keep in mind:

  • Chairs available for extra seating
  • Space for activities that require movement (icebreakers, classroom tours, time to mingle)
  • A designated area for parent belongings
  • Handouts and resources printed and easily accessible
  • Writing utensils for filling out forms, notes, etc

4. First impressions are important – Save time with a Presentation Template

Plan and set up your presentation in advance. A successful presentation is:

  • Timed. Make sure you run through it beforehand and it isn’t too short or too long!
  • Clear
  • Collaborative: allows for parents to ask questions, actively engage, and supports a strong, parent-teacher team.
  • Student-friendly. Have students participate by handing out materials, assisting parents in demos, and available as guest speakers to talk about their classroom.
  • Compatible with the technology you will use to present
  • Tested in advance- there is nothing worse than a presentation that won’t load or sound that won’t work with a room of silent parents looking at you!

    *Note: We’ve gone ahead and designed a presentation for you to use on your Back to School Night. We hope this eliminates the time you would spend planning, and we hope you’ll share it with other teachers! All you need to do is click the image below to download the Kodable Back to School Night Resource Kit. Enter your school/classroom information and fill in your agenda.

    Copy of EST. 2015

 

5. Have fun!

Back to School Night is an exciting opportunity to start building relationships with families. Let parents mingle, get to know each other, and get to know you! Include parents in your focus for the year and communicate clearly that this is a team you’re excited to be a part of it.