Friday, December 9, 2016

Coding Collection 2016

It wouldn't be another year in the innovation lab without celebrating the annual Hour of Code. Similar to last year, my teaching partner and I decided to expand that one hour into 4-6 weeks worth of hands on coding activities. This is usually always one of the favorite projects in the lab, hands down.

Here is our menu of activities for this year:
1. Minute-to-Win-it = This idea was taken from the task cards found on the Spark Website HERE We slightly modified it to the students recording how long it took them to complete a challenge with a partner as opposed to trying to complete the challenges in one minute. Instead of using the Spark app, we had the students use Tickle.

2. Coding Collection - we provided a wide variety of apps for students to code and explore. Choices for this activity included: Swift Playground, Tynker, and Lightbot.

3. Wonderopolis - Students had to code Dash, using the Wonder app Blockly. In teams, students took turn catapulting the ping pong ball down the walkway. Students placed number markers on the floor to then measure and compare distances after each member went.

4. Unplugged - students decoded messages following algorithms of Down, Right, Left and Up.

5. Ollie's Obstacles - always a favorite of students! However to allow more students hands on time with coding, I had prebuilt accessories for the course that students were then able to assemble the way that they desired. They then had to code Ollie, using Tickle, to maneuver through their course.

6. Scratch - students use the Macbooks to explore the famous website. They were able to free code or follow one of the provided tutorials from their online site.

During the coding process, students were to continuously reflect on their experiences using Numbers to document their data, challenges and interests.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

3D Journey Around the World

We are going into our 3rd year of luckily having our 3D printer in the lab. As each year approaches, my teacher partner and I try to design lessons that will allow students to challenge their 3D design skills.

Our 3D design program of preference is Tinkercad. This makes login seamless with our district Google Accounts and it is useful that it is web based, allowing student to work off of any computer. My only wish, would be for this program to be functional on our student iPads. I really like the creative freedom that this website allows students to experience as opposed to apps that you can download.

We began our project by introducing students to what 3D printing is and for those that experienced a similar lesson last year, we used this as a reflection session. We also took the time to create expectations for this project using Padlet. The results from our student feedback created the rubric for our project.

We then challenged the students to recreate images from our 3D program boot camp. This gave 4th graders the opportunity to learn new skills and for 5th graders to review.

The overall theme for this project, was with the summer Olympics in mind. We had students brainstorm and select an internationally known landmark to use as their inspiration. From there, the designing and creativity was at their fingertips. Overall, I couldn't be happier with their progress and the hard work they are contributing to their final design.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is always an event that my students and I look forward to. This year, we were lucky to have some additional resources that allowed us to expand the coding experience past using websites like Code.Org and Tynker.

I'm very lucky to have a co-teacher that is excited to try new activities, like myself. We work very well when planning and smashing some of our ideas together to create a unique experience for our students.

As always, we began Hour of Code this year with the recent video. The kids always love looking into the world of code from the professional side, especially when it relates to the anticipated movie of Star Wars, the Force Awakens.

For this particular project, students were placed into groups of 4 or 5 depending on class size. I like to use our seating chart generator in Power School, just to really mix the members of the groups up after allowing them to pick their own groups for their previous project.

We then introduced our coding activity using a Numbers spreadsheet on the iPad. Until this year, I honestly didn't realize how convenient Numbers can be to create organized projects for students. In order to get the students a copy of the spreadsheet without having to airdrop to all individual students, we provided them a link/QR code in Edmodo that they could easily download and import into their own iPad.  We walked through each activity, reviewing directions for the stations and taking any questions that they had. We planned on using about 20 minutes per rotation.

Here are some of the stations we planned:
1. Computer Coding - we used so students could create accounts and as teachers we could see their projects. Plus, many were interested in the new Minecraft and Star Wars modules.
2. Fun with Floors - I started using Pixel Press Floors, Floors in the App Store, a few years ago. It still continues to be a student favorite allowing them to code and create their own video game with a different type of code compared to block or script.
3. Ollie's Obstacles - students had to construct an obstacle course for Ollie and then try to maneuver him through.
4. BB8 Bowling - we are lucky enough to also have a BB8 Sphero this year. Students had to use the Tickle Coding App (Warning: Don't have your students search it in the app store) and block code BB8. We taped out a given path on the carpet and students had to work together to program him. Great connection to mathematics, as they had to use angles.
5. Cup Coding - this was an unplugged activity from Continues to work on students communicating and collaborating together.
6. Bit Wars - At one of my schools, the class size is much larger, so I added a 6th rotation in using littleBits circuits where students had to create an equipment piece for a Star Wars character. This idea came from the challenge that was given on their website.

Due to winter break and school activities, this project took approximately 4 weeks to complete. Each student was responsible for documenting/reflecting on their experience through questions, fake Tweets, videos and images. Boy, did they love the robotics!

Floors Game Coding
Unplugged Cup Coding

Ollie's Obstacles
BB8 Bowling with Tickle App

For some of my self contained classes, we even tried a bit of Sphero Action Painting! I've always wanted to give it a try and the kids really enjoyed it!