It’s December and you know what that means, Hour of Code. Hour of Code is a campaign which has engaged 10% of all students in the world, and provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States. This year it is December 5-10. I was very happy last year for my school to participate in Hour of Code and this year we are doing it by storm during my STEAM enrichment classes and unleashing our new LEGOs, Ozobots, 3D printer and using Tickle coding App this year. Here are some great ways to have your students get into Hour of Coding and even win some prizes for your school.
- Code.org is a great way to get students into coding. They have one-hour tutorial designed for all ages in over 45 languages. Join millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an Hour of Code. These range from Star Wars to Angry Birds and they work on all devices from iPads to chromebooks. My students loved using Force Awakens to Frozen last year and I know a few of my students are looking forward to Moana to Minecraft this year.
- Sphero Education has been one of my favorite devices to use with students over the last year. As many of you know, I use my BB-8 Sphero on a regular basis both in the classroom and with my own family in teaching code using Tickle App. Through connected play and discovery, Spheros are challenging and inspiring brilliant students. From math and science to programming and the arts, hands-on activities expand imaginations and help shape a brighter future. They have recently updated their Sphero SPRK Lab App to work on all platforms. Working in a 2:1 school, many of my students want to code our Spheros and 3-5 left out since they have chromebooks, but that has all changed thanks to that. You can use Spheros from teaching geometric shapes to creating little robot stories and even painting. I still love using Tickle with Sphero and Ollie bots, but if you are a chromebook school or desktop school, Sphero SPRK Lab is just right for you.
- Ozobots are one of my favorite little robots right now. My son and I won a brand new Ozobot Evo we have nicknamed: “Ozzy” and he has really lead the charge in my STEAM classes the last week. In fact, my recent Donors Choose just got my school six little Ozobot Bit bots for my students and they can’t get enough of them. So easy to code using colors, OzoBlockly works on all systems from iPad to Chromebook. One of my challenges coming up are students creating Ozo Mazes. Where they use paper, straws and a shoebox to make a maze. The first step is to have students code the Ozobots out of the maze using traditional marker code. The next step is to use Blockly to get them out of the mazes and through the twists and turns. There is also a great Hour of Code contest this week to win a great set of Ozobot Prizes.
- We just recently received a Flashforge 3D printer thanks to our Ozobot Donors Choose and what better way to introduce coding than through 3D printing. A great way to introduce coding is to have students take 4 objects and then give them a task to assemble. The next day have them add something they want and then turn it into something useful. It uses the main parts of STEAM and allows students to assemble their set of pieces into a unified picture. Great way to allow students to create and build on coding knowledge.
- There are great coding resources and apps to use. My first selection is Tickle App, Tickle not only allows students to build easily with coding like LEGOs, but also create movies. There is even a coding Battleship Contest going on for students and teachers to create movies using Tickle. Something many schools think is that coding is just limited to robots, drones and smart tech. Coding is used in much more from websites to games (something my students enjoy the most). Tickle is fantastic for students to create games and movies on IOS. However, if you don’t have iPads you can also use Scratch and Hopscotch. These programs work great with all platforms and are really front and center during Hour of Code. Scratch also works great with Makey Makey and other related programs. You can also use Scratch Jr and Hopscotch for Centers and story building from kinders to middle school. Give them a try.
- Drones! Yes, drones, I am a bit drone fan, we are currently using drones from art work to community garden. Something I love about using drones is that they work great for students interested in aviation, game design and creating using them. I am a big user of Parrot Drones as they allow more flexibility from large drones to small mini drones that my students and teachers love using. However, you don’t have to limit yourself either, many schools use makerspaces and build their own drones for rescue missions, piloting skills and more. Even during the winter, drones are a great way for students to learn innovation and PBL skills.
- Dash and Dot. I am working hard right now to get Dash and Dot from Wonder League for my Kinders and First Graders. Dash & Dot are characters that ignite curiosity and confidence while providing fun ways of learning the essential skills of collaboration, communication, and digital literacy. My son loves Dash from STEM workshops and my Kinders want them really badly. They work with LEGOs, PBL and are much larger and great for little hands like Kindergarten. I highly recommend them for classrooms.
- LEGOs. Yes, I saved the best for last. Yes, as much as I am an advocate for LEGOs, but not as much as Quinn Rollins. However, with LEGOs you can do so much with them. Computer coding with LEGO is a great introduction to the world of coding using a favorite building toy. Yes, you can teach young kids about computer coding, especially if they are highly interested in computers and how they work. You can have them design characters, mazes, bridges and more. Something I will be doing with LEGOs in third quarter will have my students from kinders to fifth graders create Ozobot LEGO cities. They will use LEGOs to create city structures and stories and then code their Ozobots to go through the city. They might be people going through the city or emergency rescues or Choose your own Adventure stories. There are so many great ideas and I want to direct everyone to Little Bits for Little Hands where I got many of my ideas for LEGO and coding from.
Try these out this week and then go in your own direction with your students. Have fun!