Today, the #KodableRoadTrip took us to Wilmington, DE and Newtown Square, PA, where we got a chance to visit with some awesome teachers and students preparing to take programming to the next level!
First Stop: Tatnall School
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What we learned: It's never too early to start learning loops
When we first began our lesson with Tatnall's 3rd graders, we expected to cover the basics of sequence, debugging, and review/practice the specificity needed to create a detailed and effective computer program. However, once we were 5 minutes into our lesson, we realized that our 3rd graders needed more of a challenge, and were ready to take on more advanced programming concepts. Our fuzzFamily frenzy screen-free activity soon transformed into a loopy lesson, and students began explaining/demonstrating when to use a loop, how to create one, and why they are important for programmers. In the startup world, it is always important to know when to pivot when working on your product, and the same can be true in the classroom when teaching a programming lesson as well!
What's happening in the future
Colleen Hoban spoke with us at length about her amazing and ambitious plans to organize a Parent Tech Night for Tatnall School. Once the school completes a few wifi fixes, she plans to get started and is looking for more ideas. We did our best to offer our advice, but we would like to hear from more educators as well! Please send some tips to Colleen via Twitter @ColleenHoban.
Favorite/Most Memorable Moment: "What is binary?"
We all had a good laugh when Grechen began "reviewing" with Tatnall's 1st graders the basics of binary. After a few confused looks, our 1st graders quickly reminded us that we had never spoken to them about binary. Grechen was a little reluctant to admit her senior moment, but I believe that one of the basic tenets as an Elementary School teacher is that 1st graders are a little like elephants, they never forget.
Moral of the story: Never question 1st graders memory.
Second Stop: Episcopal Academy
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What we learned: The importance of smooth transitions :)
Our 1st grade students at Episcopal were immediately ready for a challenge once we walked through the door, and we quickly dove into the basics of functions (I know! Amazing, right?!), even writing a detailed program in pseudocode. After 3 students successfully acted out our program as a robot, we jumped into trying a few functions lessons in Kodable. While there were many students that made this transition seamlessly, as we walked around the room, we realized that there were a few students that could have used a few more examples or some extra help. With the help and experience of the wonderful Maggie Powers (@mpowers3), we were able to help these students along and completed a very successful coding session.
Take away point: Never be afraid to walk through lessons together in Kodable after an unplugged activity. It can only help, and ensure that students have a firm grasp of a new programming concept.
Favorite/Most Memorable Moment: "Mr. Neal, is Kodable supposed to work this way?"
My favorite moment at Episcopal Academy came when a student asked me to come take a look at a problem he was having in Kodable. Now, to provide a little background, when we rigorously test Kodable in our office, many times we do not have enough time or the resources on hand to put an update through the 6-8 finger test. The 6-8 finger test generally comes into play when 3 or 4 students get so excited about Kodable, they all tap the screen at the same time, resulting in some interesting behavior. Our young student managed to find an interesting bug putting Kodable through the 6-8 finger test, and we had a great talk about how sometimes there is not just a bug when playing Kodable, but there are actual real-life bugs in the game itself. He seemed to have stumbled upon the latter, and we provided him with a sticker for being an awesome beta tester.
Memorable Moment Part 2: "Let me explain to you the details of game animation...and python"
Sometimes, I am just amazed at what students already know. Case in point, an Episcopal Academy student explained to us the details of game animation, articulating exactly how it works, while another suggested that Python would be a great programming language to work. After moments like these, I often have to remind myself who the one is giving the presentation and who is the first grader.
Day 2 is in the books! Don't forget to support and join in on the fun for the Kodable Road Tour and order a #KodableRoadTour T-Shirt!