Yesterday was my first day with the Coding Tech Club in one of my elementary schools. There was only a small number: five students but still we had SO much fun! We had three boys and two girls.
We started by going over my expectations. All the students related that they liked each other so I would not have any problem.
Next I cautioned the students that when they first start working on the actual coding it will be hard! They may not get it right their first time out of the gate. We watched a video I found on YouTube called Famous Failures.
I have shown the above video to three classes and now the Tech Club. It never ceases to amaze me how outraged they are at the injustices noted in the video. One student shared that his dad works with computers and he often hears his dad fussing about something or another that he cannot fix. There was a background of understanding that things don't always go right. Yay! My intent was to not only ensure them of just that concept but to encourage them not to give up.
I then unpacked one of the makey makey boxes and showed them the contents and how to put them together. We discussed circuits, conductors, and insulators. I didn't need to go into much detail; their classroom teachers had done a good job with this SOL.
After showing them how to access the website with the activities:
I set the students loose and just watched! They first pulled up the site and started with the bongo lesson. In this lesson the students turned bananas into bongo drums.
Two of the students created a computer keyboard using only themselves. In other words, they put the alligator clips on themselves and tried to see how fast they could type just by moving snapping their fingers. Two other students connected the clips to their chairs and created a Tetris game with their chairs being the game controller. (Although I started off with five, I lost one student who left early because she was sick.) I just walked around amazed at their creativity and did nothing more than snap pictures.
At the end of the period, I called the students together to discuss and share what they had done. Homework was assigned. Since the Makey Makey kits had been donated through Donors Choose, I asked them to come back with a thank you note for the donors. Too, we tried to create our Scratch accounts but MIT was updating the Scratch servers so I encouraged them to try and create these accounts at home. If they forget, no biggie. We will just do it in club.
To end the time the students wanted to teach me something. It was really cool so I want to share the following with you.
I just got a new IPad Air 2. I really like it! I have the first generation but that was so heavy. I may as well carry a laptop. Then my division gave each of the ITRTs an IPad mini. It was too small. I had a hard time reading on it so most of the time it stayed on my desk at home. The IPad Air 2 may be just right!
My last post was about Scratch, a coding program from MIT. Coding is the new literacy! I truly feel we are doing our students a huge injustice not focusing more on this skill. Instead we are obligated to teach to a plethora of standardized tests.
Since getting the IPad I have discovered a couple of Scratch programs that were designed for mobile use. One is called Scratch Jr.
I have been playing with this program today and really like it! I have already suggested it to a SPED teacher who had a student very interested in coding. The program is so engaging for younger students! It uses a drag and drop interface just like its big Web brother. Students learn the basics of coding by making simple stories. The biggest issue that I can find with Scratch Junior is that there is no way for the students to share their work with others besides handing over their IPads. i did manage to capture a story that a second grader and I did together by using my cell phone to video the story. This means it isn't the best quality but it would do in a pinch. Maybe in the future Scratch Junior will do an update that will allow sharing. Hey, even the youngest of storytellers wants an audience!
_Hi, my name is Melanie Lewis. I am an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Amherst County Public Schools,
located in the beautiful state of Virginia. I LOVE my job! I get to
work on my hobby, anything that has to do with computers. I get to work
with teachers and students, and I am definitely a people person. Plus,
I DO NOT have to give grades. Wonderful, huh? Let me know how I can help you better integrate technology into your classroom.
ACPS' 1st computers
I know only one thing about the technology that awaits us in the future: We will find ways to tell stories with it. ~Jason Ohler