Lego Coding in Grade Three Final

For the final lesson the students edited their hand written coding draft looking for “loops”. When they found loopable text they rewrote it as a loop. Then they typed up their final draft. Here is an example of that final draft on a Google Doc.

One great thing that came out of this lesson was one of the teachers saying to me. “Wow, I could do this during my instructional writing unit next year.”


See if you can follow her code?

Grade 5 Art Collages

For Exhibition this year our Art teacher decided to have the students create digital collages. She got the idea after reading this post by Princess Arty Pants

The goal of the collages was to make a collage that would support the idea of raising awareness about their exhibition topic. This was the first time that she had tried anything like this before and as you can see there have been some amazing products that have come from it. 

Below you will find the collage that they made and the reflection that they completed to accompany it. 


One of the tricky things that she found was that you could only add 30 small images to the background at a time. This was overcome by the students saving the collage or taking a screen shot of it. Then pulling that first save back up as the new background and continuing to build the layers on top.


Using Explain Everything to Track Reading Progress

A couple of years ago I saw an idea of using Explain Everything to track reading. I have been working on getting teachers to try this since, but this year I managed to get it started in 3 grades. Each year we have 3 two week long assessment blocks. During those weeks I used my IT time to complete this project with the students. 

I recently finished up with the Grade Two class. It was amazing to see them whizz through putting their third reading into their Explain Everything in just one lesson. 

I have also been building these in grade one as well. Here is an example of two students. One who is in our EAL program and one who is not. I ask the EAL students to use their reading books given them by their EAL teacher since they are designed to build their English vocabulary and fluency.

I began in grade one by taking students one at a time out into the hallway with their books. We recorded the introduction slide and their reading. 

For the second round I had the students add the “March Reading” slide, take pictures of their books, insert the books into their project and record their reading through 3 guided lessons following me as I instructed them with help from a partner. 

For the third round I had the students add the “May Reading” slide, take pictures of their books and insert the books in one lesson. The following lesson I reminded them all of how to complete their recoding and send them off to record.

In grade two I had the students add the “October Reading” slide, take pictures of their books, insert the books into their project and record their reading through 3 guided lessons following me as I instructed them with help from a partner. 

The second time we recorded we were able to add the “March Reading” slide, take pictures of their books and insert the books in one lesson.

The third time I simply reminded them of what they needed to do and they completed it all in one lesson. 

I look forward to seeing one of these progress through another year as I think it will be an amazing sampling of how a student reads. 

Lego Coding in Grade Three part 1

The grade three teachers this year asked me to do some coding lessons as we had wrapped up most of our curriculum needs with all of the doubling up that I do at the beginning of the year. I thought to myself “Sure, and this would be a great time to develop the Lego Coding lesson out more fully.” So here it is. 

First, I started the students off by explaining that we were going to do a combined math, language and IT lesson. They all kind of looked at me like I was a bit crazy (but we all know this is true so they have learned to just roll with it!). I reminded them of the coding with legos lesson that they did in second grade. Then I told them that we were going to do a more complicated version of it. We weren’t going to use symbols or make up our own language, but we were going to use “real” coding terms. 

I gave them each a base plate and six legos. They then had to decide on their starting positions. As you can see in this picture. Each group decided on their own arrangement for their starting position. The only rules were that no lego could be on top of another and they had to all be on the bottom half of the plate. 

Then they began some of the math elements by copying their starting position into their math books. Their book have 1cm squares in them and I told them that 1 square = 1 dot on the base plate. They had to make sure that their drawing matched exactly the position of their starting position. This took the rest of the first lesson to get correct. There were lots of students at this point making connections to doing coordinate point work in previous math lessons. 


The next lesson that we had I introduced the coding language terms that we would be using and asked them to record them in their books. I choose some simple terms to get them started. We had a discussion about which direction forward and backward were on the base plates and when lift and set would be used. Also how “turn” would have to be combined with “rt” or “lt” and have a number added. I had an image on the board showing what 0 – 45 – 90 degree turns of a rectangle looked like. 
Then we started with the first line of our code. I explained to them that they needed to put a # then a sentence telling their “computer” what materials they would need to get started. We quickly realized that 4 dot Legos could come as squares or rectangles. So, we discussed how they could be described so that the “computer” collected the correct Legos at the beginning. They learned that lines that begin with # are things to read not do. They help the “computer” understand the instructions that are coming in some way. 


Then they set about coding. They were only able to code a few lines before the time was up and what was really nice was the “ahhhhhs” that I got because they had to stop. They wanted to continue! It was great. 

The this week they got on with more coding. And again they didn’t want to stop. They wanted to finish their first draft, which most of them did. 

My plan is to have them “edit” their work like a piece of writing. The first edit will be for “Does it work?” which they will do with each other. As some of them have already found out, they aren’t’ always correct in their first draft. 
Then I have taught the ones that have finished how to make repeat loops in their code. Then they went through their code to find places where they could use repeat loops and they rewrote those sections. 
After the on paper edit, I am going to have them type up a Google Doc that has their code in a published format. I will have pictures of that part on my next post. 

Coding ACS Egham

I love the times when an idea for a lesson comes together like what happened in my Geek Squad today! As we were walking back to the lab one of the Geeks started stating everything we were doing, that turned into my “coding” while we walked. I was calling out what I was doing as if it were code. 

When we got back to the lab I decided to have the Geeks code the school. I gave them each a clipboard, paper and a pencil. Then I gave them a start point and a destination. 

They then set off to code their way to their destination. They worked in partners to write their code.

When they came back confident that they had finished their code, I tested it for them! And we found a few mistakes!

Some of them tested their code themselves before they asked me to test it.


 While I was testing I spotted one of our grade five students waiting for a music lesson and roped her into helping with the testing process!

When they thought they had their code correctly written I asked them to type them up in a Google Doc. Each group approached the writing of the code differently. As you can see they each approached the “walk” command with a different technique and varing degrees of success!



Then the parents arrived to pick them up. By then I had printed copies of their code. They showed their parents their starting location and off they went!

I have to say this lesson has been one that I will remember. It was fun, engaging and challenging for the Geeks. I even had one throw in an “if this, then that” statement into their code!

If I get the chance to introduce coding as a replacement for instructional writing this would be one of my lessons. I also think it would be a great first week activity. You could match the new to the school students up with the ones who knew where things were and send them out to code. Then they could follow each other’s codes.


Human Libraries

I just watched a video about Human Libraries on my cousin’s post on Facebook. This is a great idea and I think that it could be a very inspiring thing to do in a school.

The idea is that you have a few people who are “books”. They are in a space and the visitors come and “read” them. The books tell their stories and then answer questions about themselves afterwards.

I think in a middle/high school environment this could be an amazingly powerful way to introduce students to loads of different types of people. You could have one of these that focused on mental illness, drug & alcohol abuse, sexuality, religion, etc.

In a lower school you could have similar but with more lower school friendly stories. For example our grade four students just finished a unit on beliefs. They had several guest speakers come into their classrooms. Instead of guest speakers they could have done a morning of “human library” where they had more of a small group interaction with people from different religions/belief systems and people who practice the same religion/belief system but in different ways. They could rotate around the room to read the books that they were interested in reading. They could ask the questions that they might not be comfortable asking in a whole grade level setting.

Our grade two’s are currently working on a unit about communication and they have had speakers come in that have taught them about sign language and braille. But how powerful a human library could be in that unit as well. Having people who communicate in different methods from verbal to nonverbal methods.

This idea has many possibilities and I think that I will add it to my collection of ideas for provoking students to see the world in all of its unique wonder.