It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No not Christmas- it’s time for the Hour of Code! hour-of-code-logo-2-1024x528

We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and less students are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why our entire school is participating, for the third consecutive year, in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Our Hour of Code is a statement that Village School is committed to teaching these foundational 21st century skills. During the month of December, every one of our students will be amongst over 100 million students worldwide spending one hour learning the basics of computer science coding. This Hour of Code is in addition to the programming literacy unit we do with all grade levels each year.

Wondering how my students will be spending their Hour?

TK students will be playing Robot Turtles. In this “offline” board game students lay down cards to program their turtle to move forward, backward, left or right. The goal is for them to program their turtle to reach their gem in the center of the board. This game is a great way to introduce programming language and strategies to our youngest students.

K-2nd students will be using Code.org which offers an elementary school curriculum that allows students to explore the limitless world of computing. Each of the 20-lesson courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials. By the end of each course, students can create interactive games, stories, and art that they can share with anyone.

3rd grade students are currently participating in the Wonder Workshop Robotics Competition. Using the Wonder App, students utilize their sequencing and coding skills to program Dash and Dot to complete a set of missions. The final solutions will be shared with over 1200 participating schools worldwide.

4th grade began the Google CS First coding curriculum and are learning how to design an online game using Scratch– a program designed by MIT used to enhance programming skills through drag and drop commands.

5th grade students are approaching their 10th week of participation in the Lego Robotics Challenge. Students are working in teams of 2-4 and programming their Lego EV3 robots to complete a mission of their choice. Final programs will be shared during our Lego Robotics Showcase in February.

6th grade will be coding with Khan Academy learning about databases and spreadsheets, webpages and HTML or drawing with Code. Another option will be using Google’s Made with Code activities to create everything from LED dress designs to music mixes, to avatars. According to the Made with Code website, “From fashion to film, the things you love are Made with Code.”

Making and Innovating Through the Winter

We have been busy this trimester in the Innovation Studio. My goal has been to incorporate making activities in each grade level and as a result there have been some great projects! Here is a brief recap of some of my favorites:

First Grade- Monster Traps

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Our first grade students participate in a Global Collaborative Project called Monster Exchange every year. The students draw monsters using Pixie and then I type the descriptions and send them to our partner school in Izmir, Turkey. Those students must redraw the monsters using only the descriptions and we do the same for their monsters. As an extension to the project I had my students design and build monster traps using recycled materials in our Innovation Studio. The students LOVED the project and ask me if they can make things every time they come to technology now!

Second Grade- Weather Inventions

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Second grade students participate in a Weather Pals project every winter where they team up with other schools on the east coast and post the local weather, questions and answers about the weather data and film a weather broadcast that is shared via a project Wiki. This year we started the project early so that I could introduce Little Bits and have each group invent something that could help a person during a particular season. We had everything from leaf blowers to hot chocolate stirrers and I was blown away by the creativity that my students exhibited. We incorporated the inventions into our weather broadcasts so that they could be seen by everyone.

Third Grade- 3D Printed Candy Inventions

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Third grade students read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in their classrooms and as an extension for writers workshop their teacher had them invent 5 different types of candy that Willy Wonka might sell. To take it to the next level a parent that does marketing for a living came in and presented the steps for selling an invention to someone. The students then chose one of their inventions to “pitch” to Willy Wonka in a Shark Tank-like scenario. We decided it would be incredible to bring one of the candy inventions to life with 3D printing! Students just completed a 3 week TinkerCad tutorial session through Project Ignite and are now ready to design and print their candy inventions to share with family and friends.

TK and 5th Grade Buddies build Robots

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One of my favorite TK projects every year is the TK Robot project where the students design and build giant robots using recycled materials, paper mache, paint and other decorations. The students then make up a story to go along with their robot and every year without fail, the TK students say their robot can “do something” such as blow bubbles, make breakfast etc. This year I decided to make that dream a reality. Their 5th grade buddies interviewed each TK students about their robot to get a sense of it’s “personality”. They were then asked what they wanted designed for their robot that could either light up, make a noise, or make a small movement. After the interviews were complete the 5th graders got to work using motor, LEDs, buzzers, battery packs and anything else they needed to build the accessory. We had propellers that spun, hair bows that lit up, jetpacks on superpower capes and many other adorable additions. The TK students were so excited and proud to share what “their 5th grader” made for their robot during the all school assembly. I think a new tradition has begun!

 

 

 

 

Global Cardboard Challenge 2014

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This year our third grade students participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by the documentary Caine’s Arcade. Coinciding perfectly with our school-wide theme Think, Create, Innovate, our technology team has been busy transforming our traditional lab into an innovation studio and maker space. The Global Cardboard Challenge was our first “maker” project and the kids could not be more excited about it! We started by watching Caine’s Arcade 2 for some inspiration. Students then decided if they wanted to work with a partner or independently and sketched their design ideas on a brainstorming sheet. We spent 4 weeks building, tinkering, sawing and gluing. The final results are creative and most importantly the students have been saying things like, “I want to come to technology everyday!” We love the enthusiasm and will be inviting teachers to bring their students to check out all of the 3rd grader’s hard work. We can’t wait to do this every year!

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