Last week I shared some circuitry activities that I did with 4th graders after receiving a DonorsChoose project. This week we continued the fun with some coding. The coding resources that I received were Botley the Coding Robot and Ozobots.
When I came in to the room (my STEM on a cart), the kids were instantly intrigued about what I had in my containers. Some guessed Botley was baby toys I was bringing for them to play with (lol) or if we were playing video games. I know Botley has the potential to reach many young children, but I didn't expect how engaged 4th graders would be with him! They were also equally as intrigued with the Ozobots. It was great to have 2 very different coding resources that provided different thinking opportunities, but still helped them develop critical thinking and coding skills. I love a good "if this, then that" learning experience!
Both of these resources were awesome for introducing students to the concept of coding - which is exactly what I was going for! I believe that when I use new resources with students, it is important to give them ample time to simply play and explore. This is how they learn how things work and then when the content is inserted, they are not trying to figure out the functionality basics and avoid pure frustration with connecting content and materials. One thing I have noticed with this approach as well (especially with higher level thinking materials), the students intuitively insert the content themselves. I saw many students naturally talking to each other about how to build obstacle courses, figure out distance travelled, and how to move from point A to point B in the least number of steps as possible. Don't get me wrong, I definitely heard some grumblings and frustration, but it was a productive struggle. That was after they truly understood me when I said that Botley was not voice activated or a remote control robot!
The Ozobots provided a different productive struggle than Botley. Many of the students had focused in on learning how to make the Ozobot jump and they were having a hard time doing so as they pictured in their heads. Even though most were not able to make them jump, they had fun learning how to get them to change colors, spin, change speed, and other commands. I also left this open-ended for them as I wanted them to follow their creativity and questions for "how to do it." It was interesting watching them work through the Ozobot codes to create some pretty wild paths!
I am excited to see what the students come up with as we use these more within the content area. Their interest was definitely sparked and it was something very different than what they have experienced before. I love seeing the benefits of coding - the perseverance, critical thinking, and a general interest in creating something totally new by giving directions. Coding for the win!
Today I worked with my 4th grade friends to make binary ornaments. I was inspired by Schooling a Monkey and Little Bins for Little Hands and their awesome ornament ideas. I liked how the wreath and stars offered the opportunity to spell things out, but I also wanted them to use their creativity a little bit more and think about how they could manipulate the pipe cleaners into a recognizable (holiday) shape. I tried it myself to show them one example (Rudolph and his pack on his back), and the manipulating the pipe cleaners really was the challenging part!
We had the students make their pipe cleaner ornament and then figure out how they would add their binary word or letter to it. They did great and were excited to show off their designs and have us guess what their letter was! For this Quickfire, we only allowed them to use the provided pipe cleaners, beads, the ASCII Binary Alphabet sheet from Little Bins for Little Hands, and scissors - no tape or glue.
The teacher I was working with got in on the design action too with a pretty cool snowflake design! Any guesses on what it spells? Hint, start with the light pink tip and work clockwise.
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