Kodable Road Tour: Day 8

After a long drive from Chicago, we kicked off Day 8 in Minnesota (said in MN accent) ;P. Today, we visited 3 schools!! Wow, what a jam packed day…but so much to share!

Our First Stop: Deephaven Elementary

What we learned: Kodable works to perfection when you set up a class beforehand

Most times when we finish our screen-free activity and move to setting up students with iPads, there is a little confusion and it takes some time to get students set up. Not in Minnetonka! Thanks to Jeremy Engebretson (@JEngebretson75) and the amazing teachers at Deephaven, the students were already organized into a class on Kodable, and were very familiar with the login procedures. In less than 2 minutes, each student was playing Kodable and the workshop was moving along again.

Take away: Organize your students into a class to save time and the headache

Since each student was already in a class, they could easily sign in on their iPad and did not have to waste time searching for the correct iPad or creating an account. Each student was able to begin exactly where they left off, and were quickly engaged without any distraction. This made for a seamless transition, and minimized the amount of time students could disengage for the lesson. The time spent adding students to a class led to an enormous amount of time saved down the road during lessons. This makes a huge difference when you have a limited amount of programming time and every minute counts.

Memorable moment: Let’s test our code!

Throughout the course of the workshop we watched many students input a small amount of code and begin testing to see how far the fuzz would roll before they received an error message. This reminded us the importance of trying and testing our code, as well as not being afraid of failure. This is a concept that we want to try to stress in Kodable, as it is immensely important for programmers when they are writing a program or debugging.

What’s down the road?

Coding coordinators at Deephaven are making a coding curriculum/plan for each grade level. This past year has gone so well that they are planning on doing even more in the future, and making coding an even bigger part of their everyday curriculum.

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Our Second Stop: Glen Lake 

What we learned: Lessons can be applied at many ages

In Glen Lake we switched things up and completed a Kodable workshop with a class of 6th graders! Fresh off a morning of working with 1st graders, we were a little out of our element at first, but quickly hit our stride once we began talking with the students. This experience taught us that any programming concept can be adapted for older students, and can work quite well. We had great discussions surrounding programming, fielded a number of difficult questions, and also learned a lot while playing Kodable.

Memorable Moment: Complete a challenging level together and hearing the cheers as the fuzz attempted to roll through the maze each time

In this particular session, we decided to complete one of the most challenging levels of Kodable together, and see if we could encourage our students to program the fuzz through the maze using the most efficient code possible. This turned out to be an exhilarating experience as the fuzz almost made it through the maze a number of times, but not quite. Eventually we got it, and we were very happy that we chose to do a level together.

What’s next?

Colette Kastner’s student’s were very interested in how we got started and involved with Kodable, and the route we took to get there. Many of the students asked how they could begin to learn to code on their own, and we provided them with a number of resources such as our How I Taught Myself to Code series where they could find some things to get started. Looking forward to hearing how things continue to progress into the future. 🙂

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Our final stop: Groveland Elementary

What we learned: Explain thatlLoops are not just for adding more spaces

Many students when working on loops levels in Kodable simply like to use the looper to add more boxes so that they can complete their code. To avoid this, we spoke a lot to the students about identifying patterns in each of the technomazes in Kodable. When working with a student, I would always start off by asking them if they noticed any patterns in the maze in front of them. If they did, I would instruct them to then look at the number of boxes available in the command bin. If there did not seem to be that many boxes, then I loop would most likely need to be used.

Additionally, we also stressed utilizing iterations for each of the loop. Each loop should never be used just once, but should be used at least twice. When we showed many of the students the benefits of tapping on the looper and increasing the number of iterations, many abandoned the previous methods and started utilizing the loops in a more efficient manner.

Memorable Moment: Seeing the students learning and communicating in Spanish

While we were visiting Groveland, we were fortunate enough to visit one of their Spanish immersion classes, where…you guessed it…all of the students spoke Spanish! This was the first time that we had ever taught programming in another language, and we were a little intimidated at first. However, Grechen and I tried our best to use our limited Spanish language knowledge to fit in and help the students as much as possible.

 

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What a whirlwind of a day! Check in again to hear more about more of our adventures in Minnetonka tomorrow. 🙂

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. 🙂

Kodable Road Tour: Day 5

Today, the Kodable Tour stopped in Greater New York, where we visited two awesome schools that shared with us all the progress they have made in their coding curriculum. Oh yea..and they helped us learn a few things as well. 🙂

First Stop: Highland Falls Intermediate School

What we learned: bugs happen; it’s okay to talk about them.

We used the web version of Kodable during our first session with Kristen Magyar, and discovered an issue with the way the cursor was appearing on their desktop computers. The graphics cards were having issues rending the cursor correctly and there was a bit of a lag. Naturally, the kids clicked furiously in an effort to get the mouse working correctly.

This was a great moment to have a discussion about bugs, why they happen, and how we can react to them. After talking about the bug, students showed great patience and everything worked well. We were fortunate to have a few iPads available as a back up for the students who didn’t want to continue with the issue.

When the second group came in, we talked about the bug with them before they got started. This made things work much smoother and they showed great patience while working with the issue.

Take awayIf you discover a bug, talk with students about it. Turn what could be a stressful situation in to a learning opportunity. You can model patience and good trouble shooting behavior for the students, as well as discuss it with students to prevent impatience before it starts.

Favorite Moment: I had a great conversation with the 5th graders at Highland Falls Intermediate School about creating an app, how to get started, and some other technical questions.

It was a lot of fun to discuss this with them, and see their eagerness and excitement at the idea of creating technology for others to use.

The future: Kristen Magyar and the team at Highland Falls are moving more into coding next year. She already has students thinking about vocabulary with words like “loops” and their definitions written all around her lab. The principal is very supportive as the technology team begins increasing the amount of coding done at Highland Falls.

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After a quick lunch, we scooted over to Lakeland schools to visit Linda Brandon.

Second Stop: Benjamin Franklin Elementary

What we learned: Smooth Transitions – brought to you by explanations.

When you go in to someone’s classroom it is a lot like visiting someone’s home. I feel a bit like I’m imposing, and want to be polite and do things “their” way. This always stopped me from being decisive about how to transition from a lesson to iPad time. Every class has their own way of handing out the iPads and giving sign on instructions. However, it usually ends up getting a bit chaotic if I don’t review how to get signed on to Kodable with the students.

On this trip, I’ve learned I can ask a few review questions before saying the magical word (iPad) that sends everyone in to frenzy and make the lesson-to-iPad transition go easily. They’re listed below, and work like a charm!

What app will we be using? (Kodable)

What does the icon look like? (Yellow with a blue fuzz)

What do we do when Kodable opens? (Press play)

Do we press play if we don’t see our name on the play button? (No)

How do we switch? (Press the button with people on it “Switch Profiles”)

What do we press next? (Our class name)

What do we press when we see the list of names? (Our name)

Favorite moment: It’s always fun to see how much students learn in a small amount of time during our coding sessions, but to people who haven’t seen the power of coding with a live class of students it can really have an impact. There were a lot of visitors in our session at Benjamin Franklin. People from all over the district were there to learn and watch our session. I loved seeing the recognition of how much learning was happening when “playing” coding.

Thanks to Linda for creating this awesome Animoto!

The future: Everyone in the Lakeland school district is interested in coding. It was wonderful to see so much support coming from district administrators. People came from a variety of schools and positions to watch our sessions, and were eager to learn more about implementing coding.

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What a day! Keep reading to learn more about our adventures on Day 6. 🙂

#KidsCanCode Chat: What Are You Doing for the #HourOfCode?

Hour Of Code #KidsCanCode Chat
The #HourOfCode is almost upon us!  Are you ready?  This week we talked about how are preparations are going, potential activities, and our experiences from last year.  Oh yea, and how awesome it is! Check out the chat below for some awesome ideas.
Join us every Tuesday at 8pm EST for our #KidsCanCode Chat!