Building Bridges with Little Coders

What has been happening with my Little Coders? Well, we have been building bridges! A little step into STEM, sort of, though not based on a real life purpose but working to a set criteria. We have once again challenged ourselves and learnt a lot along the way.

Like most of us who are learning as we go, we made mistakes along the way and one mistake was a whopper! So here is how to do it or not, and suggestions on what I would do should I endeavour to teach this project again.

My initial goal was to create a project for the students which was more hands on and gave students the opportunity to delve into Design and Technology, STEM (in particular Math and Engineering), plus expand their knowledge and skills on using the Ozobots (for Digital Technology). A word of warning, it took the whole term! If you are a classroom teacher definitely integrate the project into your other learning areas, if you are a specialist teacher consider negotiating with other teachers (in the learning areas covered) and work collaboratively on the project.

The plan was to have students design and create a track for the Ozobots to travel, the track needed to incorporate a bridge. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yes, that is what I thought. How hard can it be getting two dozen Year 2/3 students to make a track? They’ll have fun cutting, gluing, constructing and evaluating their work as they create. They’ll be immersed in Math without realising it. A lot of critical thinking will be required and we will be building capacity and perseverance. It will be great and it was, almost every student was engaged, students who normally struggle academically worked tirelessly to complete their tracks and demonstrated their creative skills. Our more advanced students delved into higher level bridge building and set themselves challenges, and only one student did not complete their track in the timeframe.

So, how did we start? We began by discussing the project together and as a class, we set the basic criteria.

  • What the minimum length of the track could be?
  • What materials we could use and what was available to us?
  • What did we need to consider regarding the Ozobot? Suitable surface awareness for traversing the track.
  • What type of bridges could we make? What materials would be suitable?
  • How do we set out our track, in relation to the Ozoblockly codes available? The degrees and movements which Ozobot can travel. Can we make curved tracks?

We then began designing our tracks and bridges. Once students had drawn up both their track design and bridge design we got into the hard stuff. We had used 1cm graph paper for our track design, we then needed to work out how to scale up our design to meet the needs of our Ozobots. How wide must the track be? How big would a 1cm block need to scale up to? This linked in well with arrays which they had been learning in Math. Most students chose to scale up to 5 x 5, some went with 5 x 6.

Then we had the challenge of using a ruler to measure and draw our track blocks onto graph paper. This was a surprise to me, very few had any idea how to measure and rule accurately. I had intentionally decided to use the graph paper to make it easier and quicker for students but even then we were challenged, it required explicit teaching (several times over). Once students understood the process and the most effective and quickest way to rule up the paper they quickly got into production mode, cutting long strips of 5cm wide graph paper.

The students then began glueing their track onto the cardboard base. They needed to refer back to their original design as they worked, making sure they identified the starting point and the direction. It is important at this stage that you remind/teach students about left and right. I get the students to physically move when checking which direction they need to glue the track. Have them face the start direction and follow the turns by changing the direction they are facing with each turn. A lot of arm waving and jumping is involved along the way, we could direct flight traffic!

After several lessons, they had their tracks glued down and we got started on our bridges. It was at this stage that we realised bridges are designed to go over something and most students chose to add a blue paper river to their track.

The students had chosen a selection of materials to build their bridges and some changed their initial selection along the way as they discovered some materials were not suitable or there were construction problems during the making process. Several students hooked onto the successful ideas of others and completely changed both their bridge design and the materials used.

2017-06-22 14.05.24

Once our tracks were completed the students began their initial programming challenge by creating the sequence required (for the Ozobot to traverse their track) on paper. To make it quicker and easier to scribe our sequence we use a few symbols and abbreviations. I always feel a little mean doing this, making them write it out by hand, but it makes them really think about which codes they will need to use when they get to the block coding stage. It also makes it easier for them to use as a reference when creating their sequence on the computer and helps them identify any errors. What have I missed out? Did I select the correct direction (degree) code?

 

The first step, in order to write down our sequence, is to work out how far is an Ozobot step? I have them run a test on a piece of graph paper and turn this into an Ozobot ruler (10 Ozobot steps). They can then use the ruler to mark the distance Ozobot travels (10 Ozobot steps) and calculate the number of steps they need to include in their sequence for each straight length of the track. *Note: I use 10 Ozobot steps as most students know their 10 times tables and can count by tens. When a length of the track goes over, for example, 48, they use the ruler to mark to 40 and then use the ruler to estimate how many more steps to the centre of the last block in that track section (this is the corner block where they then include a turn/degree code).

When the students finish their written sequence, we look at it together, comparing it with their track. I then sent them off to the computer lab to independently use the Ozoblockly software, create their code sequence and load the programme onto the 2017-06-29 13.57.25Ozobot. Are you shocked? What? Independently? By themselves? Alone? Well, yes. This class has had two or three semesters (over two-three years) of using block coding software. There are a few students who are not as capable but the other students become the teachers and they support each other. Now, the why of how this happened. When we started the project we (the class) realised there was no way we could construct our tracks in the computer lab, there just wasn’t the room. Luckily, being the Visual Art specialist I had access to the art room and so we used this space for most of the term. It meant that it freed up the computer lab and I happily let another class use it in that time frame. When my students began to finish at different stages and needed access to a computer, I arranged with the other teacher to send them through to the computer lab and she was happy for them to be in the same space as her class. It wasn’t any burden to her as the students knew what to do.

It was a little crazy, however, I had students at all different stages of production and coding. I did have to move between both classrooms to support and check on progress. I had students moving back and forth between the computer lab to code and the art room to test run their program using the Ozobots. There were only a few minor BM issues as most students were excited about testing the robots on their track and eager to fix any errors and then celebrate any successes. Any staff passing the art room were ambushed by students and dragged into the room to witness what the students had achieved.

2017-06-29 13.53.53

Now, here’s the kicker and what went wrong, big time! The error was completely my fault and I should have thought about the potential outcomes when planning the project. We did not have many successes 😦

Why? Well, Ozobots cannot handle traversing bridges! Most students did a great job creating the correct sequences to get the Ozobots to stay on track but when presented with a bridge the Ozobot would either stop completely or only move up and across the bridge for a very short distance. The reason being often the angle of the bridge was too steep for the Ozobot to traverse, and/or they are not designed for traversing bridges. Occasionally one would make it to the centre of a bridge (if it had been constructed at a suitable low angle) but then it would just slide down the other side…which created lots of laughs but was not the goal. No one really minded and there was lots of discussion on how we could make changes to the bridges and we hypothesised about why it might be happening. No one was disappointed (except me), we had all enjoyed the process and learnt a lot along the way but if we had had more time we would have experimented further and tried to solve the problem.

What I learnt from it:

  • run some tests before you set the project (if you want success)

or

  • go with the flow and learn together, the process can teach you and your students more than you expect.

 

 

Advertisements

Books for Little Bots

Over the last six weeks, I have attended several Digital Technology professional development workshops and met some great teachers. One of the discussions which keep popping up is the integration of digital technologies into other subject areas. It is becoming a necessity due to the limited availability of DT specialist staff in most schools, and the crowded curriculum which is stretching classroom teachers to the limit, best not even mention the two hours of LOTE which we will soon have to cram in as well!

So, to ease the pressure on us all let’s look at texts which could be useful in supporting DT knowledge and skills in Early Childhood and Junior classes, and which may be used as a hook for other teaching areas. Now we all know that robots are not an essential component of teaching digital technologies, however, they are a very good way to hook students into wanting to learn and participate. With this in mind, I began researching what robot themed text is available and how it might fit into other subject areas.

Here’s what I found which looked useful…

STORY BOOKS TO READ:

  • Robots, Robots Everywhere (Little Golden Book) by Sue Fliess.robots robots everywhereThis cute little book could be used as a hook to get students thinking about robots in our world, where do we find robots? Do we use robots in our daily life? Students could select a real world robot and draw/write about what it does, perhaps create a flow chart which outlines the steps/sequence that a real world robot goes through. Or use it as a hook for writing a narrative about working with a robot, then have students illustrate their work (labeled diagram or artwork), or perhaps build a robot sculpture.
  • Power Down, Little Robot by Anna Staniszewski. This is a good text to introduce power downalgorithms, a sequence for a procedure. The book is about a little robot who does not want to go to bed, he runs through his stalling program to avoid going to bed, something which all young children can relate too. Students could write and illustrate their own bedtime routine, which also fits into the health curriculum. This text also has a song and mentions some technology terms: error messages, circuit, power modules, and sequence.
  • The Robot Book by Heather Brown. The hardcover book has interactive parts which the robotcan be moved, such as, spinning cogs. With only 5 pages, it outlines the very basic parts of a robot for little children, in the search for the most important part (the heart). What is the heart of a robot? Useful for ECE classes when designing a robot, and could be used for covering social and emotional content. It could also be used with older students as a sample of how to design a book with moving parts.
  • The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas. robot and birdAn emotional story about an old robot who can’t be fixed but finds a way to save a bird. A story that can open many discussions and writing tasks. Warning: You may need tissues.
  • Pete the Cat: Robo-Pete by James Dean. Pete the Cat builds a robot, he programs the robot to be like him in order to have someone to play the games he likes. Mentioned is Robo Pete having a homing device, which you robo petecould use to open a discussion about mapping and GPS, students could create a story map of the text or develop their own grid ‘hide & seek’ map of the playground or school. Where would you hide? Students could code a path using directional arrow symbols and direct a robot friend to the secret spot. Or use the gridded maps to play a game similar to battleships, can you find the hiding spot?
  • Sometimes I Forget You’re a Robot by Sam Brown.forget your a robot This is a lovely story about friendship and could be used in ECE to develop student awareness regarding how we speak to people in a positive way and how we are all valuable in different ways, plus jobs that robots could do.
  • The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara. This is an adaption of the famous ‘Three Little Pigs’, it would work well in a text comparison activity (with a Venn diagram) and lends itself well to incorporating any space travel activity. The end pages show the planets, all labeled with their names. Not really useful for DT but I really liked the big bad robot and his scary face.
  • R Is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet by Adam F. Watkins. r for robotAnother text with great robot illustrations, each letter of the alphabet has words which describe sounds. It would be great for any narrative writing task or animation project where students were being encouraged to include sound within their text. Watch this clip to get an idea of the content.
  • Clink by Kelly DiPucchio. clink2This book has lovely end clinkcovers illustrated with very detailed plans of how to build a robot, a great example to show students and encourage them to add detail to their diagrams. The story line features an outdated robot whose programs no one wants and how he tries to gain the attention of the shoppers in hope of being purchased.
  • Little Robot by Ben Hatke, little robotis a graphic novel suitable for junior and middle school students. This text is a perfect hook for comic book making, students could create their own comic book text using an iPad application or website. Comic book creation is a great way to demonstrate creating a sequence. See Ben being interviewed and talk about his artwork.

MAKING BOTS BOOKS

  • Cool Robots by Sean Kenney. LEGO extraordinaire Sean Kenney has developed a few cool robots 2texts with instructions for building simple robots. You will need to check his block list and make sure you have the required pieces, otherwise, use the text as inspiration and have students construct their own robots. Perhaps they could even create their own instructions, another way to teach about sequences/algorithms.
  • Cool Creations in 35 Pieces by Sean Kenney. This book has several robot designs. You can purchase the 35 pieces on this website. What might be interesting is using the robot creations to create a short film/stop motion, after designing and creating their robots students could create a storyboard sequence and then use a green screen app to produce their short film.
  • awesome legoAwesome LEGO Creations with Bricks You Already Have by Sarah Dees. Another useful LEGO book featuring several robots to inspire students to get creative with design and make their own. Build some math activities into the project, perhaps collating and graphing data about the blocks used or set a criteria challenge and limit what they are allowed to use.
  • Papertoy Glowbots: 46 Glowing Robots You Can Make Yourself! by Brian Castleforte. This book looks like loads of fun and Papertoy-Glowbots_covercontains enough robots for each child in your class. You could easily merge this text into your Science program about light or use it as inspiration for a Design and Technology project. **Please note: there is a warning about potential fire hazard for some projects, make sure you go over any safety issues with your students and have a plan in case anything should occur (ooh…another Health lesson, fire safety).

Well, this robot needs to power down after developing RSI from working too long on the computer. I haven’t even looked at the great non-fiction robot text available, perhaps next time. Just a little shopping tip before I go…

My favourite site for searching for books and the best price is booko.com.au, it gives both the cost and delivery postage rate for most online books sellers. The Book Depository, Abe Books, and Booktopia are usually the cheapest option for us Aussies. Happy reading!

 

This Far, with Little Coders.

In session one, ‘How Far with Little Coders’, students were investigating just how far is 5 and ten Ozobot steps? Once we had acquired this knowledge we could move forward and challenge ourselves. The challenge criteria is opened ended, the solution will be different for each group and students have choice in their design and construction process. So, what is the challenge?

Session Two

The challenge:

  • Create a track for the Ozobot to travel, using graph paper, masking tape and straws.
  • Calculate the distance to travel through each section of your track.
  • Use the Ozoblockly editor to create a sequence to allow the Ozobot to travel the full length of your track, from start to finish!

Tips to Remember:

  • Fold along one edge of the graph paper, match the folded edge on one sheet to the graph line on the second sheet. Tape together on the reverse side. *I did this for my students, under their guidance as to their design choice. Older students should be able to manage themselves.
  • Cut the straws into different lengths to make an interesting track.
  • Use small pieces of masking tape to hold down the straws, make sure the tape will not interfere with the travelling Ozobot.2016-11-15-14-02-46
  • Make sure you allow enough width across the track, so the Ozobot can travel freely.
  • Include degree codes to turn direction.
  • Refer to your prior test results, how many graph squares/cm is in 5 or 10 Ozobot steps? How many code blocks do you need to use?
  • Count the graph squares carefully to calculate which code block you need to use. Use a pencil to mark each code block distance on your track. Use this information to select the correct code blocks, and form your sequence.
  • Test run along the way…calibrate the robot, then load the sequence.

 

Most students took two sessions to complete the task. The first student to finish was a girl! Go, coding girls! In my experience, across the 1-10 Years/Grades, girls do seem to have the stamina to persevere and problem solve, the boys will often give up and enthusiasm wanes when they can’t solve problems quickly. With this activity, everyone was engaged and kept trying to get to the finish line. There was cheers of joy, clapping and congratulations when students succeeded. There was also tears of frustration from one little man, who passionately wanted to do well, but struggled with his low math ability. A little pep talk, some teacher help and he was back on track.

When you select the student partner groups, pay attention to the student’s strengths, try and pair them so one supports the other. It will reduce the frustration and hopefully there will be no tears. The word challenge is very real in this activity, I am working with six and seven year old’s, and I am pushing them. Am I asking too much of them? Perhaps, but they are learning from the challenge, building stamina and developing thinking skills, plus finding pride and joy in the accomplishment. Oh, and celebrate the achievements, send them off to show others of what they can do…show the office staff, the principal, the gardener, the class next door, and spread the joy!

 

How Far, with Little Coders?

Are you counting sleeps? I am. So, little time to get everything finished up for the school year. In this silly season of assessment, reports, presentation practice, graduation events, school year books, class groups for 2017, swimming lessons, sports carnivals, job uncertainty, meetings, tinsel and glitter, we are still teaching and learning.

For myself and my little coders there has been a lot of learning. Earlier in the term, I had the opportunity to attend a great LEGO EV3 Mindstorm workshop in Perth at SciTech. It was a lot of fun, I got to catch up with some past colleagues, and it was challenging. If you have the opportunity to attend a LEGO EV3 event do it, even if you don’t have these robots you can apply the teaching/lesson ideas to most robots. Which is exactly what I did, I modified one of the activities to suit my little coders and their skill level, when working with Ozobots and the Ozoblockly editor.

The activity was to work out how far a LEGO EV3 can travel in one rotation of the wheel. It was an interesting 5 minute investigation, a group of 30 adults were all estimating, calculating, discussing their thoughts on distance. Only a few people in the room calculated the correct distance.

So, I took this little gem of an idea and asked the little coders ‘How far is 5 Ozobot steps?’, ‘How far is 10 Ozobot steps?’. Hhhmmm…no one knew, including me. Now given that I am working with Yr. 1/2 students, I had to make the task achievable. We want a little bit of challenge and investigation, but we also want success and that feeling of pride and achievement. My solution to this was using graph paper, cheap, easy to access (hello, Mr. B, Math/Science Wizard), and we can record our data on it. You need to use 5mm graph paper, the reason being that Ozobots move small distances.

Session One

First, remind students about the Mode 1 block codes in the editor. A quick game of what code is this, using the Mode 1 flash cards.

Then:

  • Explain the challenge. How far (the distance) is 5 steps and 10 steps?
  • Demonstrate on the IWB, the Ozoblockly editor and which code blocks they need to use. You only need a speed block and the 5/10 step blocks. Show the students the simple sequence…speed block, joined to step block. Remind/demonstrate how to calibrate the robot and program the robot (many students forget the steps).
  • Group students into partners.
  • Each group needs: one piece of 5mm graph paper, a pencil and an Ozobot. Plus computer with Ozoblockly Editor.
  • Demonstrate drawing a straight start line on the paper, repeat this 4 times. You should have 4 start lines along on edge of the paper. Under two of the lines write ‘5 steps’and under the other two write ’10 steps’. 2016-11-08-16-21-43
  • Load the program onto a robot. Demonstrate: Run the robot from the starting line. When it stops, use the pencil to mark how far it traveled. Mark off all the 5mm squares covered with that distance. How many squares did it travel? How must distance is this? Discuss measuring in centimeters. How many millimeters in one centimeter? 5mm + 5mm = 10mm = 1cm
  • Have students work through their own investigation, calculating the Ozobot steps/distance. How far did it travel?

2016-11-08-16-20-282016-11-08-16-17-04

2016-11-08-16-16-342016-11-08-13-41-18

Session Two

This is where the fun starts and the challenge becomes greater, but you will have to wait for the next blog post, as it is time for me to go to work. Have a great day everyone.

 

Challenging Little Coders

Welcome back.

If you remember from my last Little Coders post, I had promised to let you know how we went in the next two sessions. So, let’s talk about how I assessed the students in these sessions.

Session 4 (& 5).  We started, as I always do, reviewing our past skills. A quick game of ‘Who knows this code?’, holding up the Ozobot code block flash cards (mode 1) and having students answer individually. Then we moved on to creating a sequence on the board with our text code cards, like before the students work with me making decisions on what we will include and what we need to complete the sequence (see session 3. for more info). ozoblockly-mode-1

Then we had a go creating the code in the Ozoblockly editor, this was the easy part. Most students can now use the editor very successfully, a few make some simple errors, such as selecting a backwards code instead of a forwards code.

 

What is tricky is programming the Ozobots on the monitor, to test their sequence. A few tips to teach which are vital for success are:

  • Train the students to check the display brightness, using the buttons on the monitor. It must be set at 100% or it will not load. We work in a computer lab which the whole school uses, and other students will change the settings.
  • Train the student to calibrate the Ozobot before every program load. This is usually the number one reason for failure. You must: hold the button in on the Ozobot until it flashes white, release the button and then place on the screen, hold until it flashes green (yay, it’s working), then it will turn itself off. You are now ready to load the program.
  • Train the student to load the program. They must turn the Ozobot on and release the button before placing it on the monitor. *Do not hold the button down. With the Ozobot turned on and held in place on the monitor, click the load button. The program will load; you know it is working if it is flashing green. *If it flashes red it is not working! Redo the calibration and try again.
  • Train the the students how to run their program. They must learn to double click the button on the Ozobot to run their program. If they only click once it will not run their program.

check-listNext, I got my check list out to record what they could do, and I changed the text code sequence which was on the board. I added a few different codes and lengthened the sequence. The students were asked to create the sequence and I walked around marking off who could do what (the basics). As students finished loading their programs they called me over and demonstrated their sequence using the Ozobots. When we are watching the Ozobot, we are also looking at their code on the monitor and talking about what’s happening. This reinforces the connection of what is on the screen (the code) and what the robot is doing…is the robot flashing the right colour, has it moved forward or backward, is it turning in the right direction, etc? We actively look for any errors. We talk about the errors and I listen to what they say, what do they need to do? Can they identify, fix the error and modify the code independently? You can get a very clear picture of their knowledge. *Note: this is very time consuming, I did not get to view every student, and that is with having an extra staff member in the room to monitor the class and help students with any issues. I ended up assessing over two sessions (4 & 5), with help. Be easy on yourself and break it down into targeted groups for assessment over several classes.

What we are assessing? Basically,  can the student…

  • Use the hardware and software to meet specific objectives.
  • Create a set of sequenced steps, using provided commands for a robotic device, to make them move in an intended manner.

 

Session 6. This time I make the task more challenging and creative. The students must use the provided basic codes but they have freedom of choice in designing their own sequence in any order they wish. They can add as many steps as they like, choose any colours they wish, make choices about direction (including degrees) and wait time, and light features. I place a selection of basic codes (using the text cards) on the board, and I 2016-10-21-17-59-18ask the students to create their own sequence using the codes. The text codes include: set colour, move forward, move backwards, turn right, turn left , wait, and turn in a (circle choice). I also write on the board that they must include four special lighting or movement codes of their choice (This makes it more fun, who doesn’t want Christmas tree lights flashing, before you zig zag along?). I also stipulate that they must have between ten and twenty code blocks within the sequence.  They must then load the program onto the Ozobot, test the program and make any modifications, before showing the teacher.

Sounds fun, but where is the challenge? The challenges vary greatly depending on the student, their abilities, their choices and the criteria that you set. For instance:

  • Can they log onto the computer?
  • Can they find and open the software?
  • Can they select mode 1?
  • Can they create/design a sequence using the set codes? *Note: Students could draw/design a plan on paper to create a sequence, prior to them coding on the Ozoblockly editor.
  • Can they identify and locate the code blocks they need?
  • Can they track how many code blocks they have included? Have they used them all and met the criteria?
  • Have they snapped/joined the code blocks together?
  • Can they calibrate the robot?
  • Can they load their program onto the robot?
  • Can they run/test their program? Are they making links/connections between what code is on the screen and what the robot is doing?
  • Can they problem solve when the robot does not run as it should? (Monitor brightness, calibration, loading procedure)
  • Can they talk about their sequence, their code choices and what the robot is doing? *Note: You could have students draw their completed sequence and write what each code means after they complete the task.

Wow, I am exhausted just typing it!

Once again it boils down to our basic skills and knowledge goals: using hardware and software, reading and using a set criteria to create a sequence (algorithm), in order to get our robots moving in an intended manner.

 

Birds Eye View

Sometimes great information from sources other than digital technology sites arrive in my inbox, today is one of those days. I subscribe to the artips newsletter which is a fountain of historical information for visual artists and art teachers. Today’s arrival has jumped beyond the artist and into the popular niche of STEAM. It also melds beautifully with many of our Digital Technology devices, including drones and Ozobots.

The newsletter features the work of Julius Neubronner, a German pharmacist, who had a passion for photography and strapped a miniature camera onto a pigeon. Hhhmm…are you seeing the connection? What a great topic to introduce and integrate the science, technology, engineering, art and math aspects into your teaching unit.

pigeon_wingtips

julius_neubronner_with_pigeon_and_camera_1914The connection with drones is obvious, but what about Ozobots? Well, for those of us working with little people, we often have to teach about ‘birds eye view’, when drawing our maps. What a great way to do this with actual historical evidence of what a bird can see from high above us. Imagine the engagement when you explain how Julius Neubronner attached a camera to a bird! Yes, I know that David Attenborough and his techies have done it thousands of times, but this is from the olden days.

Mr Neubronner also delivered his medical prescriptions by pigeon, and now we have drones delivering pizza! There is loads of connections to be made with then and now.

Check out the newsletter for yourself here. How would you use this information in your class?

Here are a few links with extra information:

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.

 

 

Evolution…Ozobot talks!

Ok, so they may not actually talk but they do make sounds! The new Evo Ozobot looks awesome. For those of us who are already Ozobot fans and educators, this is super exciting.

ozobot-evo-box-packaging-a418abd2The new Evo has sensors which allow it to interact with objects in the environment, it has new lights, a speaker, can make sounds to suggest emotions and allows users to communicate through social media. You can use the Evo with tablets and smartphones. Much like our old favourite 2.0 Ozobot it can be programmed with either colour codes or block coding. New codes have been developed to match the new features, students will enjoy adding sound to their programming.

The sad thing is that us Aussies are not yet able to purchase an Evo 😦

There is a preorder set up on the Ozobot website, however, when trying to place an order from Australia you are hit with a $100US shipping fee! I think you will find that even if you have the money to pay they will notify you that they don’t ship to Australia (as happened to me previously). Let’s hope that Edtech get in on the action quickly and makes them available here.

If you would like more info about the Evo check out the links below:

 

 

Little Coders…Take Two!

First up, my apologies for missing two weeks of Sunday blogs. Life has been busy as usual and my role of Nanny ranks higher than daily business. My hubby and I had the pleasure of entertaining and caring for our lovely grandson, let me tell you that this was like a full week at work! My hat goes off to all the parents of a two year old, what a challenge it is to keep up with them 24/7. Having said it was hard work, it was also such a joy, we stomped through puddles, explored the local walk bridge over the river (both on and under), tramped through the Jarrah forest and across the paddocks. Every stick, stone, flower,  insect, animal, bird or bird noise held fascination. He questions everything and expects answers, and with gentle hands explores nature. He is a true scientist in the making.

Now to coding…

My Year 1/2 class has been loving the Ozobot Envelope City activity, over two lessons we have managed to complete the challenge. The change in their knowledge has been fantastic, most of the class now understands the purpose and use of the colour codes (we only used the basic ones). They managed to work in groups with only one group struggling with sharing/turn taking, and even this group completed the task. All students did incorporate the codes allocated to their envelop house into their roads and we all learnt about ‘direction matters’ with colour codes! We discussed why some worked and why some didn’t, we fixed errors or detoured around them. The difference in their application, construction and care between our first make a town activity and this one is vast.

For example:

This was our first ‘Make a Town’ activity attempt, just learning about what colours the sensors read and how the Ozobot reads the coloured lines. What makes a good road? Thin lines? Thick lines? Corners, loops, sharp turns, etc?

2016-08-02 13.56.27Make a town

This is the Envelope City activity…using code with purpose!

Envelope city 2Envelope Challenge 1Envelope city 3

Envelope city 4

After we completed the challenge I let them add more coded roads to their towns, this gave them more tries to get it right. We then went to town decorating our envelope buildings/houses and added all the essentials of a town environment, trees, flowers, fences, parks, etc. After all learning needs to be fun!

We then had a pop quiz, just to check if they had memorised any of the codes. A big ask, as remember we had only had two lessons. I just used my display colour code cards and just held them up with my fingers covering the titles. Then I asked for students to tell me what they were, the response was great. Many had learned them and responded with the correct answer, if they hadn’t I got them to check their mini cards in the envelope houses. All in all, I was very happy with the outcome…learning objective achieved 🙂

Little Coders…try and try again!

The one thing about little coders are they never let you down. They’re always full of beans and excited to be part of your class. This week my little coders (Yr. 1/2) were super keen and had a double dose of coding! They experienced a great robot and coding incursion by Gecko Steps and getting hands on with Ozobots in our DT class.

I was kinda proud when the Gecko Steps presenter asked the class “What do you think these things are? (pointing to holes on front of the robot)” and quick as a flash two students replied with “Sensors! Eyes to see with!”

In the last three lessons, we have looked at robots in real life, learnt about the components of the the Ozobots, discovered that sensors are a bit like your eyes (sensitive) and learn’t about how to draw colour code tracks for our robots. We have begun to learn the basic Ozobot colour code symbols. What we did wrong when drawing these and how to fix them, if we make a mistake?

To stretch their knowledge further and give them a chance to demonstrate what they know, I have designed a fun Ozobot cityscape lesson. I am hoping this will give them more time to absorb and remember the various codes, plus get them problem solving and finding solutions.

The inspiration for the task came from picklebums.com, gotta love that name. Kate Pickle (at least I think that’s her name) has a cute envelop city activity  which looks like loads of fun. My version has student’s coding the roads of their city for Ozobot traffic. Picking up code cards, as they make their way from building to building and problem solving how to use each code to reach their destination.

If you would like a copy of the lesson download it from here Envelope City Challenge 1 Mentioned in the lesson plan is a set of OZOBOT COLOUR CODES cards which I created. You need the cards to complete the lesson. The cards needed to be printed in colour and laminated. They are very useful for teaching any of the Ozobot lessons.

Have a great week everyone 🙂