Thursday, December 22, 2016

Kids Who Code: 2016 Code-a-thon

We had a minor setback this year as our scheduled Code-a-thon kickoff date ended up being a snow day due to a severe blizzard. This meant that we had to postpone our collaborative coding session with the OLCS Kindergartens until after our Christmas concerts. Although we were disappointed, we still had other Hour of Code sessions to lead! Once we were back at school, the grade 1s led coding sessions for the Grade 7/8 and Kindergarten students who were here during our no-bus day on the second day of the blizzard.  The weather settled down later in the week and we continued with our planned Hour of Code sessions at HES.  The grade 1s led sessions for all 30 of the grade 4 students and our 20 grade 2 neighbours.   It was awesome to see such great cooperation and collaboration between students!

We finally got to work with our OLCS Kindergarten buddies on the final day of school before Christmas break. Our class taught them how to code using Kodable and Tynker. Their class taught us to code with The Foos. It was a really fun way to spend our final morning of school before the holidays!  In total, the 22 grade 1s worked with over 70 other students to learn about coding!  I also led coding sessions for our HES Coding Club.  That means over 100 of us completed the Hour of Code this year!

Check out the video of the 2016 Kids Who Code Code-a-thon

Monday, December 19, 2016

Kids Who Code: Planning the 2016 Code-a-thon

It has become an annual tradition for my class to plan and host an event for Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week.  In our inaugural year, my grade 2 class co-planned the first ever Kids Who Code Code-a-thon with Mrs. Caldwell's Kindergarten class.  Last year, my grade 1s planned the 2015 Code-a-thon event and invited students from our school and surrounding schools.  This year, my grade 1s collaborated with our partner class, the OLCS Kindergartens, to plan the 2016 Kids Who Code Code-a-thon. 

When we are working on a project with another class, we often use a to do list to guide us.  The to do list changes as we work together to complete the project.  We typically meet via video call to stay on track with our event planning.  This system of collaborative project-based learning worked well for us as we prepared for our big event!

One of our jobs for this project was writing instructions for our selected coding tools.  We saved them as PDFs to print out and we created a video version with narration.  This was a great opportunity to introduce procedural writing to my grade 1s and it always adds motivation to write for an authentic audience.  Check out our final shared writing projects below:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Skype-a-thon 2016

On November 30th, our grade 1 class took part in the 2016 Skype-a-thon global learning event!  We were honoured to be selected for a call with special guest speaker, Ms. Toni Townes-Whitley.  Ms. Townes-Whitley is the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Worldwide’s Public Sector.  We read one of our favourite poems "Pets for Sale" for her to start the video call.  Then, she answered our questions about her job, her community (Redmond, Washington) and her life. She also had lots of questions for us.   We discussed our successful Books for Guatemala garage sale and our upcoming plans to host the third annual Kids Who Code Code-a-thon.  It was a very special experience to have such an important leader take time to talk to our class!

Skype in the Classroom is an awesome tool that I've been using in education for about eight years.  Besides connecting with guest speakers, I use Skype to support teaching and learning in a variety of other ways, including:

  • Skype story time - Shared read alouds between classrooms can be a great way to encourage students to talk to each other about books.  We have also shared student-created books via Skype so students could reach a real audience outside of the classroom and get feedback on their writing!
  • Global Read Aloud - Classrooms around the world read the same book(s) and connect to discuss the books, share ideas and work together! 
  • Mystery Number Skype - Guess a Skype partner classroom's mystery number using yes or no questions, while fostering some great math thinking! 
  • Collaborative projects- We often use Skype as a "meeting tool" to work with other classes when planning and executing collaborative projects such as the Kids Who Code Code-a-thon, our Maker Faire and Yoga Festival and the Marvelous Muffins fundraiser.