New and Improved Tools for Teaching Coding

Last week your students got an upgrade to Kodable with the release of Bug World on iOS, but now it’s your turn! We’re always listening to your feedback and as a result has made some changes to your teacher dashboard that we think you’ll LOVE!

When you’re getting started teaching computer science, getting to your first class is crucial. So many teachers feel overwhelmed by all the choices, tools, and new content that they never make it to this point. However, if you make it to your first class, you’re 60% more likely to continue with computer science in your classroom. It is our priority to help teachers reach this point. Over the years, you may have received an email or call from a member of the Kodable team offering support to help you get to this point or asking questions about what stopped you.

This method has helped hundreds of teachers get started, and we look forward to many more of these conversations. Kodable has grown to be in 1 in 4 elementary schools and there are just too many teachers to reach everyone individually. We wanted to find a way to replicate this process for others who we weren’t able to reach.

 

Introducing your new Kodable Concierge

This new to do list on your teacher dashboard will point you in the right direction to find what’s next for you and your students. It’s like having a member of the Kodable team right there to guide you through every step of your coding journey.

 

Walk through each step toward teaching your first class.

Step1

Your to-do list takes you to the current lesson materials. 

LessonMaterials

When you complete lesson plans, your to-do list will tell you which one is up next.  

UpNext

 

 

Online lesson plans for easier planning

Before the to-do list, many, many teachers had no idea that we offered so many great resources, lesson plans, and activities in our curriculum. Now, each part of the curriculum is easier than ever to access. Every lesson plan is accessible in a digital format straight from your teacher dashboard!

View each concept

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Mark lessons complete, tracking what’s next

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This is the first step in our plan to make them all available inside the Kodable app. Having resources all in one place makes planning for your first (of many!) programming lesson.

Quickly evaluate what your students are learning

After teaching your first lesson in computer science there is usually a rush of emotions! The one we hear the most is excitement. However, often administrators and teachers are concerned about how to measure student outcomes. To accompany the qualitative evaluation built into each of our lesson plans, teachers have always valued our quantitative data.  Now you have easier access to all your student’s progress on your teacher dashboard.

View each of your classes

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View weekly snapshots of your students’ progress

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Our goal has always been to make teaching computer science as effortless and fun as possible for both students and educators. Therefore, we’re always listening to what they have to say about how we can improve. Enjoy the new tools made especially for you, and let us know what you think! We’re here to help and listen. Thank you for all that you do.

5 Tips for Making Purchases in Education

Education is changing! I’m sure you feel it too. You don’t have to choose between three educational content providers. There are hundreds of growing companies eager to solve challenges and needs of 21st-century classrooms. New technologies and new choices are making it easier than ever to meet the needs of all the world’s children! But now schools, educators, and companies are adjusting their purchasing processes to the 21st Century and it is proving to be challenging.

The Education Industry Association recently partnered with the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University to better understand the challenges and areas for innovation in the rapidly changing world of education. They found that only 4% of companies think that today’s ed-tech procurement processes meet contemporary needs resulting in higher product costs. The same is true on the educator’s side of purchasing. Only 36% of curriculum directors report satisfaction with time spent on procurement.

Just like in life, examining these shortcomings lead to some great ideas on how we can improve!

1. Seeing is believing!

The number one way to get funding approved is to test it in your school or classroom. Over 60% of districts rely on end user recommendations to make decisions. Once you feel confident about using this new tool, invite your principal or administrator to see the magic.  Who can deny that engagement?!

2. Start with a small pilot

As an extension of number one, remember you don’t have to start with your entire district or school. In fact, 62% of districts rely on pilots to make larger purchasing decisions.  Administrators work hard to meet the needs of everyone, and sometimes that means starting small and working your way up.

We work with districts across the country who selected 10-30% of their schools or teachers to test Kodable. Many of the districts that use Kodable now, started with one school or grade level. After a successful roll out, they decided to include more locations in the coding fun. Pilots are a fantastic way to prove the feasibility and results of a product.

3. More than an app

Apps are rarely allotted any district funds, but many companies offer far more than what is apparent in their student facing app. Check their resources and website to make sure you’re getting the most out of the product. In our experience, teachers who use the Kodable lesson plans and progress tracking are far more likely to get support from their administrators.

We often set up onboarding calls with educators to help them feel confident getting the most out of our curriculum. Do your research to see what options are available to you from the company. If you’re planning to work a new product into your curriculum, let administrators see you using all the resources it has to offer. If you know how to use the product successfully, it will be clear and you can explain the benefits more effectively.

4. Parents can help

Parents are amazing allies. If you have a supportive PTA or room parent, ask them to come watch a lesson. Talk to them about the benefits of the tool you’re using and why it is helping their children. At the very least you’ll get some support to talk to your administrator about. Some teachers have success with fundraising as a class, having a bake sale, or asking each parent to donate a few dollars.

Turning to parents has been especially successful with computer science. Parents see the benefit of knowing how to code every day at work. We have a template letter to parents available here.

5. Be proactive about purchasing

Once you make a decision to purchase, don’t let the process stall.  Everyone wants to ensure the right decision is being made, which is why research, pilots, and recommendations are so helpful. However, only 36% of curriculum directors say they are satisfied with the time it takes to make purchases. Learn about your district’s purchasing processes so you can have an impact on the amount of time it takes to implement a new solution.

I’ve spent the past two years learning about purchasing in education. There are so many ways that a great product can get lost in the shuffle. Teacher’s voices are valued and heard, but so many aren’t sure how to share their opinion.

We recently added purchase processing to the Kodable teacher dashboard. It follows the purchasing process of the majority of districts.  From there you can see exactly where you are in the process and you can keep everyone involved moving forward.

  1. Simply request a quote, then you can send it to the principal or director responsible for approving it.
  2. Your administrator can approve it and easily pass it on to the business office for purchasing.

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Each person in an organization has a role in the purchasing decision. It’s a complicated system, but we’re all working together to improve it. If you’re using Kodable with your students, check out our new purchasing page, it’s our first step toward putting purchasing power in the hands of educators.

 

Teachers – Voice your opinion to get the ball rolling.

Principals – Participate in pilots to prove results and find something your teachers will like using.

Directors and Superintendents – Identify individuals who you know will have helpful feedback on products and student outcomes when testing new ideas.

Companies – Provide resources and reliable data to your users so they can make the best decision.

 

Sources: Education Industry Association, and Digital Promise. “Improving Ed-Tech Purchasing.” Digital Promise, Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

http://www.digitalpromise.org/blog/entry/improving-ed-tech-purchasing

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!

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

Sam Patterson’s 5 Tips to ROCK the Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is an annual celebration of the ever-growing culture of programming and connected learning. The Hour of Code is an invitation to schools and teachers to bring programming into the learning space and see the possibilities. When schools dedicate themselves to the Hour of Code, they are pledging to get each student on a device for at least an hour in one week.  This alone is worth the effort.

If your school has not yet done the Hour of Code, here are five tips for having a totally successful hour of code: 

 

Think Big

Using the tools on Code.org and combining offline, tablet, and desktop activities, your school can get EVERY KID participating in the Hour of Code. Dedicating the school to connecting every kid moves this from a class activity to a community event. School cultures change from the level of community.

Unplug

Whether it is Fuzz Family Frenzy, or Cup Stacking, or dancing, get students working with code without screens. Students can code amazing things offline, explore the activities ahead of time and shape them to best fit your community.

Bring Friends

If your school already uses programming regularly, use this as a chance to share that work with the community. Consider hosting a Family Coding Day to have parents and student programming together. Read more about this idea here.

Everybody Codes

Every student, teacher, staff, and support person can code and should, at least for an hour. The world of programming is changing all the time and we can’t leave anyone out.

Don’t Stop

Once you get programming into the classroom, don’t let it out! Programming can be used instructionally in any subject and grade level to support student learning. You can connect with great teachers using programming to support student learning on the hashtags #csk8 and #kidscancode.

Sam Patterson EdD is an enthusiastic K-5 tech integration specialist, founder of #PATUE education twitter chat, and Teacher Cast Media Group Blogger. He is in his third year teaching programming to K-8 students at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, and has organized three Hour of Code Community Days with over 300 visitors. Follow him on twitter @SamPatue or read his blog here.

Teacher of the Week: Kaye Rueschhoff

Inspired by parents who were teachers, 21 year teaching veteran Kaye Rueschhoff has worked relentlessly to bring herself up to speed in the constantly evolving digital world. Kaye recently shared with us some amazing ways she’s integrating coding across content areas, and this week we are honored to feature her as our Teacher of the Week!  Kaye TOW

Congratulations on being chosen as teacher of the week! Can you start off by telling us a little about your teaching background and how technology has worked its way into what you do?

I am the daughter of retired teachers so education has been a huge part of my life.  I grew up in a small Missouri town where the school was the center of our world.  When I went away to college, teaching was not my first career choice.  However, after many detours and 20 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Technology has been an evolution for me. Our district became a “bring your own device” school a few years ago and I decided to learn everything I could about the devices and the technology in the world to support them.  I wanted my students to have the most cutting edge information and curriculum support possible, which meant that I had to learn everything I could and very quickly. I have attended every workshop, conference, and professional development opportunity possible in order to make that happen.

 What do you love most about teaching?

I have spent most of my teaching career as a first grade educator.  I love the evolution that happens with 6 and 7 year old children as they learn to read and experience many new things and topics for the first time. The challenge of finding the best way to teach and reach each individual student is one I take very seriously.  I love learning how they learn and then adapting my teaching style in order to ensure their success.

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

Coding and computer skills is the world of these students, especially first graders.  They don’t know a world without these devices.  It is very important for them to know how the devices work in order to problem solve how to fix errors and navigate situations when the software or device does not work correctly. Many of the careers and future opportunities for current students have not even been invented yet, but coding and computer science skills will always be an asset for these children.kaye TOW kids

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

I have students in my class this year that have parents that don’t speak English at home.  These students struggle with every other subject in school and often feel defeated.  They are smart kids that just don’t get the practice in English needed to keep up with their peers. Coding is something that they are successful with.  They are the leaders and helpers during our computer science time and anytime we are using technology.  This is a universal language that builds self-esteem for these kids and helps them learn in all of the other subject areas.

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

My administration supports this type of learning as long as I integrate it with other subject areas and show learning growth.

What is one coding goal you have as an instructor?

I would like to learn to code on my own.  I have started several coding classes, but it requires much more time than I can give.  When I was able to take classes, however, I was a better teacher because it helped me understand some of the foundation behind the coding programs and the language used. For my career, my dream would be to be part of a computer science school in our school district.

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

When I am not at school, I am usually in the gym.

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

I want these students to never stop learning. I want them to realize that boredom is a choice and there is always something new to discover.  Even though we can find out most everything we need to know on the internet, there is always something to be gained from human interaction and discussion.  Ideas are powerful and should be used to good.

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

I love to learn about technology and new gadgets. I LOVE sports and watch football, hockey, and baseball. I am in the gym or Zumba class daily.  Shopping is my sport.