So the year has started and that has led me to think of what are some goals I have for this school year. I think last year was a very successful first year at my new (and hopefully last) district. However I think I can always do better, so this year I will!
Goal #1 – Network & Present
I have realized that networking is a beautiful thing. Mainly because I have soooo many ideas in my head but I have no idea of how to make the dream in my head into a reality. Networking helps – a lot! I love the Bill Nye quote that says “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” That is so true – and instead of working myself to burn out I have found that it is more efficient to find colleagues across the world and grow our instruction together. Twitter is a great melting pot of ideas and I have found that it is a great place to share and get resources. Sharing my projects and ideas has been challenging with the limitations of twitter which is why I have started this blog. I also want to present at a conference to help increase my network of educators who have the same interests as myself.
Goal #2 – Make Coding Relevant
I have found that even though students love what coding can do for their future, they need some type of ‘project’ to wrap all of their learning up in. This year my 6th graders will be using CodeAcademy to learn Python. This past summer I bought a Raspberry Pi and it is my goal to get a class set of them through a grant from our district. Continue reading
So we got our 3D printer! We raised a little over $1,000 by selling our magazines at open house and then with the help of a GoFundMe campaign we raised the $3,000 we needed for many rolls of filament. This is a quick overview of the project my students completed and what I used during each phase.
First thing I did was create a calendar for the students, which they were given on Day 1. The unit began with the students learning how to design in 3D with a free program on techrocket.com. Once students completed the course I assigned them to groups on Day 4 and they began to read an article about how 3D printing can positively affect the environment. I explained to the groups they are now tasked with creating a business that can create a 3D printable product which will help save the environment. After reflecting on this article they began to discuss what their group would like to design to help impact the environment on Day 5. Continue reading
The Ultimaker 2!
After incorporating coding into my curriculum I began to think of how I can make my students learning more hands on besides the earth science labs we complete every other week. After researching and scrolling on twitter forever I decided bringing a 3D printer into the classroom will drastically change how learning takes place. Instead of solely talking about various object or animals throughout history I will be able to print out artifacts for free from the smithsonian website so my students will be able to have a truly hands on approach to learning. Continue reading
I decided I wanted to get a 3D printer for our classroom. Instead of only making a donorschoose or gofund me site to raise the money I wanted the students to be involved. I decided that we would incorporate what we were learning about volcanoes & earthquakes and I would have the students make a magazines about one of those topics and sell it at open house. Since I am working with 6th graders I knew I needed to be VERY organized with my approach to the assignment, I also needed to be very clear about my expectations. Here is how I approached the assignment: Continue reading
After our Scratch Project was a success I decided to have all of my students learn to code on CodeAcademy. CodeAcademy is a free website that teaches various coding languages: HTML, CSS, JAVA, PYTHON etc. I decided to start my 6th graders off with HTML & CSS. After researching a bit on the website this seemed like the most foundational course to start off with coding.
How did I Implement?
I made a schedule for all the students and their goal was to complete 1 lesson a week, this varied as some lessons were 20+ steps whereas others were only 6-10. For the lessons that were 20+ steps I allocated multiple weeks for the students to complete it. Every Monday they work on CodeAcademy for the first 15-20 minutes of class. If they finish an assignment early – they are allowed to go on to CodeAcademy and complete more lessons.
CodeAcademy allows the teacher to view the progress of the students and organize by block/period. This was a GREAT tool for me and allowed me to easily grade their progress. How did I grade coding you might ask? I didn’t really, i gave them a grade for completing a certain amount of lessons. For example; the students knew they needed to be done with lesson 2, 3 weeks into starting CodeAcademy. If they had reached that checkpoint I gave them 30/30 points. If they did not reach the checkpoint I gave them 20-25 points. I want to encourage students to learn to code so at the current moment I do not believe in penalizing them harshly for taking more time – but at the same time they need to stay on a schedule so we can all complete a culminating project before the end of the year. I am still trying to figure out if there is a better way to give them a grade for coding – any ideas?
What about Special Education or English Language Learner students?
All of my students in my class code – no matter what their abilities. Of course this has to be tweaked a bit depending on the reading abilities of various students. I have some special education students whose reading skills are much lower so the Special education teacher and I came to the conclusion they would be better off completing work on code.org. Students who are English Language Learners are able to switch code academy to their home language – but what i have found is most of them prefer to challenge themselves to do it in English. My ELLs know that doing CodeAcademy in English will help them learn the language faster so they only switch languages if they are confused with what the lesson is asking them to do.
Some of my special education students have really fallen in love with coding and the Special Ed teacher I work with has included coding in her math course.
What do you think? Any ideas on how I can better integrate coding into my classroom?
Scratch Studios: Science Vocab Quiz Volcano/Earthquake Game
CodeAcademy Student Handout: CodeAcademy 2014/15 Student Handout