Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Break the Code - Lightbot

LightBot is a coding program where students are a robot completing the command of turning on the light bulbs. As the students progress, more and more light bulbs have to be turned on and sometimes the robot has to jump up.  
lightbot screenshot
Classroom Uses K & 1 
I don't use Lightbot as much with this age as I do other programs. I think they could handle it by the end of the year because of the picture support, but their are other programs I like a little bit better. 

Classroom Uses 2 - 4
I think Lightbot is perfect for the 2 -4 age. It provides just enough challenge that sometimes I even get stuck on the levels! (Don't worry, you can google the answers. I may or may not have done that!) My favorite memory of this program was my group of too cool for school boys that sat together on the carpet (hello flexible seating!) and worked together the whole time as a group. They helped each other out the whole time! I was so proud!

lightbot screenshot
1. I like the simplicity of this program....the player tries to get the light bulb. While the program might add more obstacles, each time the student knows what they are trying to do.
2. It can work for any age! I have

1.  When you get to the Procedure Levels... it gets hard. There aren't any other coding websites that do it exactly like this. It takes a little bit of extra time to explain it.
2. I wish the turns had words on them. Even I have to sometimes stand like the robot to figure out which way he needs to go.
lightbot screenshot

As a whole, I really like this program. I like its simplicity and ease of use. I wish the explanations was a little bit better for thee procedures and I think that would make it even better!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Break the Code --- Daisy the Dinosaur

Today is the second post in the series of "Break the Code" -- a review of different learn to code apps & websites. Today we have the iPad app "Daisy the Dinosaur"

Daisy the Dinosaur is a iPad app aimed at the youngest learners of code. With its colorful dinosaur and simple set up, students can navigate through different levels. Students drag blocks of code that the dinosaur will do in in order to get the yellow star.

daisy the dinosaur

Classroom Uses - Kindergarten & 1st 
Daisy the Dinosaur is a great app to use with younger students (7 and under). I used it after we introduced Code.Org to both K & 1, but felt like K didn't get as much out of it because of the reading difficulty. My 1st grade students breezed through it!

Classroom Uses - 2nd, 3rd, and 4th
None - Daisy the Dinosaur is aimed at much younger students. It provides very little challenge for older students.

daisy the dinosaur screenshot

1. Simple structure. This program doesn't have a lot of wiz bang to it. It's perfect as one of the first ways younger students can learn to code.
2. After students work through the levels, students can practice with free play to create their own code.

1. Daisy the Dinosaur just doesn't have a lot of content. Students can either work through the levels or just free play on it. My kindergarten students lasted about 15 minutes on their own playing and then they were bored.
2. With my high EL population, there were just too many words for my kindergarten students to read. I had to go from student to student to read the words they couldn't understand. I also felt like I had to do a lot vocabulary introduction of words that meant very similar words (turn, spin and rotate)
daisy the dinosaur screenshot

I think Daisy the Dinosaur is a great first app for young coders. But don't expect it to sustain student's attention for as long as a teacher probably wants. It's a good way to introduce moving vocabulary for young learners as well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sight Words - Scratch Jr

Kindergarten Lesson Plans. The words make me cringe.I struggle between being challenging enough but also holding their attention for a whole hour. The longest hour of my day!

After having a lesson on exploring in Scratch Jr and letting them make "art", we do our first project in Scratch Jr. In our morning message, I have students brainstorm all the sight words that they can think of and I make a list of about 10 on the board just for those students who will need more support in their program.

One of the biggest problems is not putting the letters as their own characters so they can each do their own movement. Students want to write the whole word on one slide. One way I might change it for the future would be to have students pick 3 words and have them write them on separate slides. I would still be able to see that they have mastery of using the green flag and the blue arrows.

Here is an example of a finished project. I couldn't make the letters go the right way after they were written, so just imagine. 

Feel free to ask me more questions about Scratch Jr. in the comments section!