Little Coders…Grow up!

Hey all, I imagine everyone is flat chat busy teaching and assessing for reporting. For my little coders the pressure has also escalated. We have graduated from Ozobot colour code to Ozobot block coding! The students were super excited about this, but it has been a rocky road. For some students just logging onto the computer can be challenging.

For myself, the first two sessions were crazy! Let me just say that again, yep, CRAZY! One teacher helping two dozen first time block coders (some who can’t read well) log on, find the editor, learn the code blocks (Mode 1.), create a sequence and try to program the robots…well, really, it was complete madness. It was one of those moments when I wished I could morph into an octopus or two, I needed eight arms at least.

Luckily for me, my Deputy understood my pain and this term has allocated a wonderful Education Assistant to our DT session. It is still very busy but we are into our fourth session and the students have started to build their knowledge and skills. Our journey so far has been very much one of discovery…

Session 1. We played, it was very much a session on how to use the editor. Having a go finding and dragging code into the editor, exploring what each code might be and what it might do. We tried to make a sequence and with help, we tried to program the robot and run our sequence.

Session 2. More play, building our basic knowledge. Students shared one robot between two. Can we do it ourselves? What do we need to do? Why isn’t it working? What have we done wrong? What do we need to change? Who can I ask for help? *3 before me (ask your partner, ask the student sitting on the other side of you, ask a peer who is good with computers…ask the teacher last! This reduces the teacher dependence and gets them solving problems together.)

Then…two weeks break for the holidays. This I knew was going to be a problem, they would forget most of what they had learnt. We would be starting all over again. So I did what I should have done to start with and we unplugged.

Session 3.  We spent the first half of the session not using the Ozoblockly editor but we did use the Ozobot block code. Hhhmmm, how did we do that?

2016-10-21-17-53-38On the holidays I spent half a day making some block code resources. I screen shot images of the Ozobot Mode 1. codes and pasted them into word. I cropped and adjusted the size of each block to make larger blocks which could be read when blu tacked to the front board or when held up. Then I laminated them and cut them to size ready to play with. I also made some flash card strips with the command codes written on them in text, then enlarged and laminated these as well.

During class we reviewed what each code block was and what it did. I just held up random cards and students told me their answers. Not everyone remembered them all, but that gave other students the opportunity to show what they knew and help their peers.

Then we played robots. I split the class into two teams, my wonderful EA had one group and I the other. We sat the students facing each other (guard of honour style) and gave each student two or three code block cards. We then worked with the students to make a sequence (on the floor), during this time we discussed the order. What we need to start with, which way do we want our robot to move? Which code block will make it turn in the right direction? Do we want to use a special movement card, a spin, a zigzag? After we finished the sequence, one student was chosen to be the robot and respond to the code. The robot could not move unless his team read aloud the next code block. This worked really well, as once again peers helped peers when any errors were made. The students really enjoyed this activity and wanted to keep going for the whole period, but the mean teacher shut down the robot and made everyone log onto a computer. Oh no!

2016-10-21-17-59-18I wanted to see if they could apply this knowledge when they used the editor, so we began activity two. Using and introducing the command text cards I created a sequence on the front board. When doing this I was constantly engaging in discussion about what we might need next and why? I encourage the kids to help me add to the sequence, they enjoy being part of the process and are actively engaged. Once the (text)sequence was constructed on the board I challenged them to recreate it in the Ozobot editor. Most students handled this really well and found the correct code blocks needed. The biggest challenge came with reading the text sequence, but I was pleased to see students walking up to the board to check which line of code (text) they needed next and puzzling it out, sounding words out, and checking with friends. Many asked me “What is after five (or three, four, …)?” Huh? It took me a minute to realise they were counting the lines of code to keep track, perhaps I should have numbered each line of code. Anyway, overall it went well, early finishers were encouraged to modify the code and/or load the program onto the Ozobots.

Hope this is of some value to you. More to come soon, with sessions 4 & 5 (assessment). I am snowed under at the moment with writing job applications (oh the joy of being fixed term), and assessing and reporting.

Note: I will try an add the code block/text doc (in resource page) when I have more time. If you are desperate for a copy (Draft-rough and ready) email me.




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