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