This week in Room 108, I tried something new... Something that made me a little nervous because it was foreign to me, something that I have no prior knowledge about ... #coding.
Since joining Twitter in 2014, my teaching practice and my lesson repetoire have developed immensely. There are so many great things happening out there in education and much of it is being shared in the #Twitterverse. That's where I learned about #tdsbHOC.
During the week of December 5 - 11, 2016, schools and classrooms across the TDSB are encouraged to "spend as little as an hour of their time - and inspire a lifetime of wonder".
So, I thought - why not?! I visited the website to learn a bit more and I selected one activity for our grade 1/2 students. That was my goal - something small and simple, something students could do independently, also something accessible that students could take home to share with families.
I picked Lightbot - because who doesn't love 🤖?!
It's an educational video game that introduces some simple principles of programming. Students get to practice concepts like sequence, conditions, and loops without actually typing out lines of code, BUT! they use the same problem solving skills to complete each levelled challenge.
On Monday, I modelled the program on our Smartboard and we completed Part 1 together. We took about 45 minutes to learn The Basics:
- using positional language such as straight, left, right (math curriculum),
- explaining the procedures, step by step, start to finish (language curriculum),
- communicating clearly and logically (language curriculum)
- actively listening to each other (language curriculum)
- collaborating and acheiving group goals (learning skills)
And we were only just getting started! Click this link to see our Day 1 Video Tweet!
On Tuesday morning, I was so excited to hear some of my students tell me about their Lightbot challenges they'd done at home that night! "Hey Kelly, I got to the next level. I got to use P1!" They couldn't wait to get started on Part 2 together.
Again, we worked together to solve the new puzzles and this time, we made the connection that using Procedures was a lot like using Patterns as a shortcut.
If our 🤖 wants to repeat the same move over and over, such as
"straight, straight, straight, jump, turn right, light" ➡➡➡⤴ ↩💡
then we could name the Pattern Core 🅿1⃣
- patterning (math curriculum)
It got a little tricky though at level 6. We were failing and couldn't figure out the steps for a puzzle. We tried two or three different ways, but couldn't get it. So we decided rather than get frustrated and upset, we'd take a break. I assigned it as homework for the students and their families (*I also wanted to encourage even MORE of my students to logon and try the game at home)
On Wednesday morning I was pleasantly surprised to be handed this! Not only did one of my grade 2 students go home and play Lightbot, or simply try to pass the level on his own - he took the time to write out all the steps, all the codes for us, so that we could pass the level together at school!
He explained it to us on the Smartboard and we were able to finish Procedures together, as a whole class.
Click this video link to see how we solved the puzzle! We never thought of travelling across the blocks from side to side like that; we were trying to go around the groups of squares!
- persevering and showing self-regulation when faced with a challenge (learning skills)
On Wednesday, we continued with our final stage: Loops. Taking P1 and now adding a P2 (a second pattern) that can be looped into P1.
It took a lot of patience and perseverance, but as a class, we worked through all of Part 3 together on the Smartboard.
Thursday, our Day 4 of #HourofCode, was by far the most exciting! I took a quick poll and was so happy to see that more than half of the class had been playing Lightbot at home with their families. They were ready.
After lots of modelled and shared practice together as a group, we signed out all of the Chromebooks from our school's shared cart, so that each student could now independently play Lightbot.
Wow was the 🔊 level high!!!
👍 Check out this 😄 Video of our Independent Practice 😄
⌛ They were on-task and engaged for an entire hour . . . in the afternoon! 🕧 🕐 🕜
They were problem solving, collaborating, reaching their goals - but some were also failing 🙁😖😞
We've done a lot of work on The Power of Yet, reminding ourselves that it's OK to fail, because we're still just beginning to learn A LOT of new and exciting things - me included!
Later that afternoon we partnered up with our grade 7/8 Learning Buddies and WE taught THEM how to code and play with Lightbot. We learned something new and could teach it to others; we were the leaders and took pride in our new learning, our new understanding, our new #coding and #programming schema.
👍 Check out this 😄 Video of a grade 1 teaching a grade 8 how to use Procedures 😄
What I will take away from this experience and remember most about this #tdsbHOC week was a moment on Wednesday ...
We were ready to start Part 3 - Loops, but I reminded the students about our 1st Failure the day before, when we couldn't figure out that last Part 2 - Procedure. I was trying to set them up, to be prepared if we couldn't figure it out again . . .
But the comments that came from them made me 😍
"It's OK Kelly, we'll just try our best." - M.R.
"We're still learning how to play." - C.B.
"We'll work as a team! We'll have #GRIT! We won't give up!" - O.S.
"Yeah!" ~ agreed everyone!!!
Their willingness to take risks and to try! Their sense of wonder, pure excitement and hard earned success when they accomplished their goals! Definitely one of those #Ilovemyjob moments. I'm glad that I took a risk and tried out #tdsbHOC because #coding is now something that, thanks to the #Twitterverse, I am going to integrate into my teaching practice and lesson repetoire 🔄
Play Lightbot on your 📱 or on your 💻
Join the TDSB Hour of Code event! Hour of Code is a global movement led by code.org. Its goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of learning coding in elementary and secondary schools beyond the Computer Studies curriculum.
In our Room 108 Classroom Community, we foster an engaging, respectful and caring environment. I aim to balance a consistent program with flexible responsiveness to students' individual needs.