Retelling through Code!

Using technology in a meaningful way is the key to success in the classroom.  As a former kindergarten teacher and the current reading specialist, it is so very important to use technology in an authentic way that meets the needs of students and their learning targets.

In our book, Now Classroom: K-2, we lay out how to move from basic coding with online apps and websites (such as Code.org),  to unplugged coding (without a device), and then coding with coding toys such as Bee-bots, Ozo-bots, Sphero or Puzzlets.  These toys allow  for coding through play.

Recently, our school librarian and resident technology specialist, Sandy Kampman, had the students retell a story using the  .  She had been working with the first grade students on a unit about Robert Munsch.  She had read and introduced many books by Robert Munsch.  The culminating activity was coding Bee-bots to land on parts of the story and retell it as the Bee-bots moved.

Working in small collaborative groups, different stories were given to each group to retell.  Students had to work collaboratively to determine the proper coding sequence to make the Bee-bot move appropriately.  Then the students had to also retell the story as the Bee-bot moved.  What a powerful retelling lesson!  Mrs. Kampman seamlessly taught coding through the use of authentic text that was meaningful to the students.  

Activities such as this example create a powerful lesson for the students.   Lessons such as this help them to internalize both literacy and technology.  I hope you will take some time to try this lesson with your students!  Please share anything you do with us at #nowclassrooms on Twitter so we can see how you are integrating technology with learning in your classroom.

Beth Hatlen

Author Now Classrooms K-2

Reading Specialist

@MrsHatlen

 

Coding in Kindergarten IS Possible

 

Kindergarten kids coding? What? Is that possible?

A few years ago I would have said no way!  In fact, about two years ago when I got an email from the district about teaching coding, I said to myself and out loud, “Now I have to teach kids how to code?  Are you kidding me?”

But, a funny thing happened.  I tried an app and I discovered all kinds of amazing things!

I was introduced to the app Kodable.  I took it home and gave it to my own kindergartener and she was thrilled to try it!  To her it was just a really cool game!

I even Tweeted the picture above.

That next week on Monday, I introduced this program to my students and they were hooked too.

This year, my teaching partner and I had a more solid plan of attack to teach coding.

Here is what we did:

First, we showed our students two videos from the Hour of Code website (code.org).  They were highly interested when we showed the Star Wars and Frozen videos that highlighted how creators used code to program the puppets and cartoons.

We then asked the students to “code the teacher” from the door of the classroom, to the rocking chair at the rug.

When we began, they simply said, “go forward.”  That led me to walk straight to my outside door and through the door.  The class erupted in laughter.  When students were settled down, they realized they needed a more specific plan.

Together they came up with this:   Coding a Teacher

Later that day, we then did some sandbox (free exploration) playing with the apps Bee-Bots and Kodable.  Students were given the opportunity to play and practice how to use the coding apps.

We were also able to invite our local library to our school.  They have purchased Bee-Bot coding toys.  The students had to work together to code the Bee-Bots.  They also realized the importance of working together as a team to problem solve.  When students realize that they need to work together to solve their coding problems, they soon discovered that they could solve the puzzle sooner and faster.

Once students played with the toy Bee-Bots, we showed them a bit more about the apps and how they worked.  Students also realized quickly, that when they are stumped, they can ask a friend for help

When I realized that coding also teaches problem-solving skills, I was hooked on the value of it for the kindergarten level.

So, my advice to you…try it!  You will also realize the high level of critical thinking skills the students have and how truly smart they are!

Beth Hatlen

@MrsHatlenK