Kodable Road Tour: Day 7

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

Stop #1: Chicago Jewish Day School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop #2: Middlefork School 

What we learned: Explaining conditions by testing

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

When presented with a condition:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Kodable Road Tour: Day 6

The Kodable Road Tour

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

First Stop: Downey School

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

What we learned: Know your audience

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

Take Away: Clearly explain commands as you go along 

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

Favorite Moment: Meeting girls in a coding club

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

The plan for the future: Get more girls coding

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

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

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Horace Mann Elementary

What we learned: Bring others in

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

Favorite Moment: Our Google Hangout

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

The future: More coding!

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

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

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

#KidsCanCode Chat: Debugging the Gender Gap

Code Documentary: Debugging the Gender Gap

In this week’s edition of #KidsCanCode we teamed up with @CODEfilm to discuss the ways we can debug the gender gap and help girls overcome the cultural barriers they face in CS and STEM fields.  We also chatted about the likelihood of a future Disney Princess Coding Movie. 🙂

Be sure to check out the documentary teaser: