Tag Archives: Coding

Hack the Pi Review – Days 3

Hack the Pi is continuing weekly and it is starting to get easier to manage. I have realized the videos are now unnecessary. Students are able to read the directions and look online for further guidance to help them complete their hacks.

Issue #1 Reflections: In order to make our Hack the Pi series I have created reflection questions that I make sure are aligned to the NGSS practices. The reflections are a VERY important piece to making sure computer science can be integrated into my current science curriculum. I originally was going to have them write their reflections in their science journals, but that would require me collecting their journals. Collecting journals is ALWAYS a hassle since I have 190 students so I definitely wanted to avoid this.

Solution #1: I decided to have students make their reflections on their seesaw accounts which were created earlier in the year. Seesaw is an online journal where students can record videos, post pictures and write reflections. I originally had them sign up so parents would get a peak at what is going on in class during the week ( labs, etc.). Having students post their reflections on Seesaw has really helped simplify the reflection process at the end of the Hack.

This is how I am currently having in class Hack the Pi time spent:

  1. Students enter the classroom and begin setting up their Raspberry Pi stations (includes plugging in and hooking up cords & logging into the Pi).
  2. I have students pause and give students the Hack the are currently on.
  3. Students work independently with their table partner to complete the Hack.
  4. Once the Hack is complete students log into seesaw and answer reflection questions. Once they have completed this they notify me.
  5. I check my seesaw and look at their answer and then I go to their station and make sure the code works. If the code works I mark they completed the Hack and they move on to the next one.

Here is the link for Seesaw: http://web.seesaw.me/

I have posted a picture of a students reflection, it also points out the biggest frustration students have when coding. “Where did they make a mistake in their code?” They hate when they get the “syntax error” box, but they always swear to me their code is right and there MUST be something wrong with their Raspberry Pi. Oh the life of a middle school teacher.

Screenshot (1)

That’s all for this week!


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Hack the Pi – Day 1 Review

My first Hack the Pi Day is finally over and for me it will go down as a success. Were there many problems,hiccups and issues throughout the day? Yes, but overall the kids were challenged and excited throughout the process. My big picture goal is to create a student version of picademy. (Note – I have not actually been to a picademy, this is more of my vision of what I heard they were like.)

Hack the Pi – Day 1 Objectives

  • Set up a Raspberry Pi, log in, load the graphical interface and begin working with command line.
  • Explain, with evidence, the difference between a Raspberry Pi and a personal computer
  • Design a solution to the problem: Computer Science is not taught in many school due to how expensive computers are.

So how are my Hack the Pi days organized?

For homework on Thursday nights students will watch my Hack the Pi videos where I go over what they will be doing the following day. You can see my first video here (its my first video ever so be nice!). I made an Edpuzzle quiz using this video, you can take a look and create an account on Edpuzzle here. Edpuzzle is truly amazing! I can track which students watch the video and it automatically grades the quiz about the video for me so I know which students did not understand what I was explaining. In addition to watching the video students needed to make a drawing of their Raspberry Pi set up in their Interactive Science Notebook (ISN).  Continue reading

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Hack the Pi Begins!

Well it has been a LONG time since I have written a post. I have spent some serious hours prepping and organizing how I would integrate Raspberry Pi into my science curriculum. The day has finally come as my weekly Hack the Pi series is beginning.

So, how did I get to this point? 

I became interested in the Raspberry Pi at the end of last year when I was researching for ways to make learning computer programming more project based. I decided I NEEDED a class set of Pi’s and so the planning begun on how I would get the resources I needed. The computer science department chairman at our districts’ high school contacted me about helping with my girls coding club, so of course  I mentioned what I wanted to do with the Pi’s. He told me he had a few Pi’s he could give me to start me off. 10 Cana kits later my vision seemed to be happening. Continue reading

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Introducing Scratch with a Vocabulary Quiz Game


At the beginning of the school year I explain to my students that we will be integrating computer science into the 6th grade science curriculum. I explain to them the importance of being introduced to CS while they are in middle school and the career possibilities that await them. I explain to them how coding will help with their problem solving skills which is a VERY important skill for any scientist to develop.

Once we have covered most of the vocabulary in our first unit about the Scientific Method, I introduce the Scratch vocabulary project. Last year after Directing at an iDTech camp I became really interested in Scratch – this led me to finding the Scratch education website. The website has improved very much over the past year and I was able to find a lesson for a scratch vocabulary quiz game. I instantly fell in love with introducing Scratch by using this lesson plan. Continue reading

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New year, New goals.


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

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All Students Code in Science

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

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