We had such a great first day in Minnetonka that we decided to stay for round 2 the very next day! Today’s stops included: Clear Springs Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary.
Stop #1: Clear Springs Elementary
In the morning we met up with our great friend Jeremy (@), and got prepared to start a fresh day of coding with some students.
What we learned: A new way to teach students to count loops
Yesterday, we spoke to many students about how important it was to use loops in the right manner, and not just use the simply for the extra boxes to take up space. Today, we helped students understand and identify how many iterations are needed for a loop, so that they can begin to use loops more efficiently. In order to determine the number of iterations, we helped the students count the corners of each maze with two fingers. By placing two fingers on the corner of each maze and counting the number of times this occurs, students were able to easily figure out the number of iterations needed for their loop. This made things much easier, as many students tend to eyeball and then guess the number of iterations that they need. Furthermore, since they had discovered a way to easily identify the number of iterations, these students tended to use loops in a more efficient manner, and discarded their old methods.
Highlight of the day: Rating understanding with thumbs up/thumbs down
During our sessions at Clear Springs, we encountered one of our favorite rating systems, the thumbs up if you understand, and thumbs down if you are still confused rating system. This immediate feedback was very useful for our lesson to help gauge if the students understood the material, and we ended up using this a number of times to help explain some of the more difficult concepts such as binary code, translating code, and how exactly loops work.
With this visit we concluded our time in Minnetonka! Thanks so much to everyone who made it a great two days of programming. 🙂
Stop #2: Cedar Ridge Elementary
For our last stop in Minnesota, we headed over to Cedar Ridge Elementary where we met up with the awesome Jen Heyer and her students. 🙂
What we learned: Let the students be the experts
We have already talked a little about the ask 3 then me rule on our trip, which has worked very well so far. But in today’s class we also saw the importance of having students be the experts. In this session we had several students who were flying through the game, and some others who were finding some of the challenging levels a little bit difficult. When we paired those who were struggling with those who had already finished a particular level, the results were phenomenal.
Take away: Many students will move quickly through lessons while others will be more challenged, and quite a few students will play at home and finish Kodable as well. Since there are often many students who are on several different portions of the game, it can sometimes get tricky if you want to complete a lesson that many students have already finished. Instead of forcing these students to red0 levels they have completed or let them move far ahead of other students, instruct them to help others, and teach the concepts to their fellow classmates.
Favorite moment: Watching kids learn loops in a matter of minutes
Jen’s class had limited experience with loops, but that did not stop them from picking it up very quickly. We had put aside several minutes of discussion for loops, but in a matter of a few minutes, all of the students had firmly grasped the concept and were ready to move on to using loops in Kodable. Instead of holding them back, we move straight to loops lessons and watched them get busy coding!
The future: Coding during Fall Science
Jen shared with us her awesome plans to teach Computer Science….as an actual science next year! In place of teaching other Science topics, Jen plans to make time for Computer Science during these units, and make it a staple in her classroom curriculum. We can’t wait to hear more about how her ambitious plans work out next year!
And we are off to Iowa! Stay tuned for our blog about our visit to Loess Hills Elementary.