Olympic Robot Week — Preparation

I am a fan of the Olympics.    More so of summer olympics, but nevertheless, a fan!

Our computer lab has been busy this past year — coding, 3D printing, lots of apps, lots of learning…..and we really have not had a chance to bring out the robots yet.

SO — about 2 weeks ago, I had a “whim” to bring Robot Olympics to the lab!    Sure this will work.    (hmmmm, we shall see)

Our robot collection consists of a Dash, a Cue, 3 ozobots, and 2 spheros.  And we have 30 ipads!

The wheels of opportunity began to turn.   And with that, also the acknowledgement that what might work for one grade might not for another and what about keeping the robots charged for 3 hours.

So — as of this moment — here is the plan.    And I will follow this post with a “what actually happened” next week.  The main objectives for this week will be teamwork, problem solving, some coding, and hopefully some laughter!

For the DASH/CUE robot — there will be 2 options.
(this will be our CURLING event)

  1.  For the younger grades — I have set up 5 bullseyes on the floor and the students will free drive the dash/cue to stop on each bullesye.   (for the bit older — they will use Blockly to program to get to the bulleyes)
  2. For the older grades — they will be using the DASH plow to gather ping pong balls to get to the bulleyes.

For the SPHEROS —
(this will be our SKI SLALOM event)

  1.  I have set up a slalom course and they will be driving the robots through the course.   For younger, they will free drive, for older — they will have to code out the course

For the OZOBOTS —
(this will be our Ice Dancing event)

  1. Students will draw a dance that their ozobot will follow.  Students will use the ipad camera to video their dance when complete.

All the robots have been checked to make sure their firmware is up to date — and all are charging.

All should go well — but I am sure flexibility is going to be the “word” of the week!

Directions for students are printed out — ipads have been checked for app updates — markers/cardstock for ozobots is ready — cones and pingpong balls collected……

all I need are the kiddos!


PS:   Kinda cute — when I told the students last week that we were going to be having Winter Olympic Robotics in the lab, one precious 2nd grader asked where was I going to put the ice!    Gotta love their belief that ANYTHING can happen in the lab!



Hour Of Code — How We Do It…..

Several years ago — my friend, Vicky Sedgwick, introduced me to hour of code.  And I then introduced it to my students! (I believe the first year was angry birds? — seems like yesterday, yet so long ago)

Now, we don’t celebrate HOUR OF CODE anymore —

WE celebrate MONTH OF CODE!!   and next year — probably even more.

Our computer lab is very very creative — lots of green screen, video, stop motion, pic collages, picture taking, blogging, zoombini’s…..on and on.  NOT the traditional computer lab w/ Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) — don’t get me wrong, we do spend some time there….but not much.   It is a skill students need to know — true — but I try to interweave it with many other things as well.  Plus, we have some macs too — so my students tend to believe EVERYTHING overlaps with EVERYTHING.

But — HOUR OF CODE — oops MONTH OF CODE — that is when I see the kids eyes light up, willingness to pair up, and lots and lots of higher thinking skills with all ages.

Each year is better than the one before……though this year’s video was not my favorite.  Last year’s made me cry every time I showed it.

So — how we run Hour of Code in our lab — in case you are interested. (links to all sites and apps are at the end of this post)

We have a Kodable Account and also Hour of Code Account —
For the Kodable account, I created generic names….so reset it each class.   Hour of Code, kids have their own accounts.   We also created generic logins at one of newest “fav” apps (& website) Run Marco.   We have lightbot/light bot jr, scratch jr, Move the Turtle, Swift Playground, and a few other apps on the ipad for coding.  Plus Scratch on the computer and several DASH apps to move the robot and SPHERO apps as well.

First to Sixth grade starts with the same app — but then it changes each week.

We began with the Hour Of Code video (three weeks ago) – the one from LAST YEAR — talked about what we remembered and then we looked at CODE SPARK’s “THE FOOS” and the SNOOPY SNOW BRAWL!    It worked for all grades.   Some frustration after we finished level 12 in FOOS — we could NOT break the next code (yet–still working on it) — and SNOW BRAWL had some hesitations until it clicked and then was great fun.

We shared a bit about what we had learned, what we would do different — and then 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 jumped into Kodable.   This is a school favorite.   We even made a bulletin board about it a few years back.

5th grade jumped into a brand new app called Run Marco (also a website).   I liked how it is more than just drag and drop — that they see the code and how it links together.

The real week of HOC — woo hoo!   We started with this year’s video and talked about how this year’s HOC was going to be a bit harder!   (I know because I worked through all 11 levels so I could assist as needed!)   We passed out the cards with user names/secret codes and jumped onto the computers.   They were given the option to “partner up” if they wished.   I was super surprised to see how many DID pair up.  Some kids worked to get the diamonds — while some did not.   (Still not sure what the diamonds did – but it was important to some.)   ALSO, not all kids did the Minecraft Heroes…..they were also shown where the 2 other Minecraft options were plus Frozen, Star Wars, and Angry Birds.   Some decided to work in those…which was fine.
(1st grade did NOT do HOC website — we worked with Code Karts and OSMO coding plus Programming DASH the robot)

Next week!!!   The “plan” is to work on Paired Programming and the APP will be “LIGHTBOT or LIGHTBOT JR” to begin.  It is a very good app for teamwork and problem solving especially on turns.

— To be honest, Hour of Code and my comfort level with our 1st and K’s is still a bit hmmmm uncomfortable.   So we work primarily with Scratch Jr and Code Kart…..next week, they will meet Dash and Dot and the spheros.

I really want to take coding to a higher level next year……so we are going to have to add a few weeks.    The students really need to be using SCRATCH — for several weeks….maybe more.   It easily could be an entire semester +.

What I see with Hour Of Code on our campus….
A.  Team work in problem solving
B.  Willingness to share and TO listen
C.  Failing and Learning and Failing and Learning
D.  The Kids see their Teacher learning along with them
E.  Acknowledgement of their learning the year before makes this year easier (HUGE learning this year — led into many conversations)
F.  Bouncing from ipad to computer — no issue.  (that we have both options is a blessing)
G.  Sequencing and Looping and Patterns and Observing where you are to where you have to go — and then planning — LIGHTBULB moment!!
H.  Excitement in learning!   One of my kids stated “I will not leave for recess until I finish level 12” and he did not.
I.  No need to wait for teacher — many kids came in to say they had already done the lesson — no worries on that.  They were introduced to the class as “available experts” and they jumped right into next learning opportunity.
J.  I need to know more about YouTubing.   StacyPlays was known by almost all my kids (I had no idea).   I am not a fan of video — but looks like I need to get over that discomfort.




RUN MARCO – Website








If You Give a Teacher a Project

If you give a teacher a project,
he/she will ask for instructions.

If you give the teacher instructions,
he/she will want to know a timeline.

If you give the teacher a timeline,
he/she will want to know materials needed.

If you give the teacher a list of materials needed,
he/she will want to know if they can take pictures of what is made.

If you tell the teacher “please take pictures”,
he/she will want to know where to share the pictures.

If you give the teacher a link to a shared google slide show,
he/she will want to know where to share a video.

If you give the teacher a link to flipgrid,
he/she will want to know if this embeds in Seesaw (yes it does)

If the teacher sends the info to Seesaw,
he/she will want to know where other teachers are that are doing this.

If you create a collaborative map to share their location,
he/she will want to know if they can skype/hangout/email etc with other classrooms.

If you create collaborative document to connect via skype/hangouts/etc,
he/she will say “how else can we connect?”

When you answer the question — “how else can we connect,”
you host another project.


Holiday Card is up and running.   Right now, we have 39 groups — probably will end up with 40+.   Our theme this year is STARS.
Still thinking of ideas for next year.


Happy Holidays


A Classroom Reflection

As I approach the last week of our school year, I am taking the time to look back at this past year and what we did well and what we can do better next year.

1. Spend a bit more time in Office 365
We spend a bit of time in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint but I find it problematic now that we have student logins w/ 365 and since the students share logins…..its just been a bit more chaotic than I prefer…….but I do need to figure this out and spend more time w/ the programs. And also introduce the kids to One Note (which they will be using in JH/HS.) I had intended to introduce SWAY to the students this year — but again, the logins made me frustrated enough to just walk away. So, I need to figure this out so next year it will go more smoothly — for the kiddos and also for me (and any other teacher using the programs.)

2. Open up our lab w/ Hangouts and Skype.
For someone who is great at connecting other classrooms, I am horrible in connecting mine. We have participated in Virtual Field Trips but not in connecting w/ other classrooms. I HAVE TO BE better at this!

3. Work with teachers more so that classroom learning overlaps w/ computer.
This year, several of the teachers DID take the opportunity to overlap a class project with a tech option. Our 5th grade created State Discovery Boards rather than paper posters. Our 2nd grade created Vertebrae books w/ Book creator rather than a worksheet. Our 6th grade made Book Review imovies. So, 4 more grades to help with ideas that overlap….and then we can go from there!

4. Continue to encourage the teachers to not see the ipads as “filler” time but LEARNING time.
Always always always a continual goal! I need to continually encourage them to “KNOW” the apps so that they can see a student’s learning and be aware of what the apps are teaching.

5. Figure out our 3D printer and use it with ALL grades not just 4/5/6.
I am very much a newbie to our printer and tinkercad and we need to 3D print with more purposeful plans. I love that the students are creative. But with that creativity we need to include planning and reflection.

6. Expand our robotics and coding beyond December.
To be honest, we could CODE all year long! And Robotics too. But to be honest, so far we are free driving and working with templates in coding.
In 2017/2018, we will take the next step to “higher-level” thinking with both coding and robotics.

7. Encourage students to story board more.
I am realizing that I tend to be a “jump in the deep water” with my kids and we need to backtrack a bit to more planning. I love that Tony Vincent has shared out imovie templates (those are so helpful), but we do need to use them more efficiently.

8. Expand our stopmotion opportunities.
We added Stop Motion to our 3rd grade curriculum this year and WOW, I was amazed at my kiddos! And we need to add even more!!

9. Have more PD opportunities for teachers to learn ways to use ideas in their classroom!
This past year, we had Thursday ipad meetings for about 1/2 the year…..we need to expand this to the entire year. I am toying with the idea of putting out a Tuesday Tech Memo.

10. Showoff student work via TV, blog, newsletter.
I was very invisible this year — and so were my kiddos. They will be putting a TV in my room this summer that we can upload student work to. I also need to use our classroom blog more (and encourage the students to share on it as well.)
And I need to share more with parents and YOU!!

Yep — those are my plans and goals.