Monday, December 18, 2017

Osmo Grant Winner!

Today I was completely surprised to learn that my grant proposal was funded by the Janesville Education Foundation!  Hooray!  I am so grateful and excited to purchase additional technology for my classroom -- additional Osmo kits and manipulatives, including the new Hot Wheels MindRacers. 🚗

I'm especially excited to get the MindRacers kit, because it allows students to quickly make strategic decisions while competing in a virtual reality atmosphere.  During the game, students have to strategize, anticipate, and react for real-time results, using tokens to control a race car's actions.  I can't wait to try it and get the kids started using it!

Students will also practice dexterity, quick decision-making, as well as social skills and sportsmanship while working together or competing against one another.  This Osmo purchase will also support our kindergarten science curriculum, when we learn about physics with toy cars and experiment with force, motion, and gravity.  MindRacers will totally expand our learning to an exciting new level with virtual experiences!  I plan to loan the kit out to the kindergarten classrooms next door to offer engaging science integration for their students, too!

My grant included 3 new bases among all the kits, so this brings me up to five bases in all for my classroom, so I will definitely be setting up centers for more students now! Osmo Numbers for a while, then swap out for Tangrams or Words.  Or some of each and offer engaging choices each day. I'm just so excited! To learn more about using Osmo in school, visit their website!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Coding


The "Hour of Code", happening this week (December 4-8, 2017), is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.  My students love coding, with "Angry Birds" on, and with, as well as a few apps I've introduced such as Scratch Jr. and Lightbot.  That's why I was excited to see an awesome Seesaw coding idea on Facebook yesterday.

Facebook is a wonderful thing.  I've learned so much from a little community of teachers who use Seesaw, and the following ideas were inspired by a Nebraska teacher, who asked Facebook Seesaw teachers to try out her coding activity that she made.  It's a template made with tables and clipart in Google Slides, with emoji arrow "labels" added to the template once it's in Seesaw.  Adding and arranging each emoji label in isolation was the hardest part - only because it's multi-step  (Pssssst, Seesaw...... please can we have a "clone" label option?) 

Sharing activities in Seesaw is easier than it used to be, and it's so wonderful that the teacher who created this coding activity graciously allowed other users to take her idea and run with it.   I was so excited to use her idea, that I made a few additional puzzles of my own.  If you click the link below each activity, you'll be prompted to save the activity to your own Seesaw library, and you'll be able to edit the directions or emoji to be however you want (you might want to re-record my voice instructions...  Ha ha).  You just won't be able to change the background since it's a jpg from my Google Slides.

The first activity is from the helpful, creative teacher in Nebraska.  Rudolph needs to pass each candy cane and stop at the stocking.  Kids just use the label tool to manipulate the arrows and write a code to get him there.  Then they can use the drawing tool to write on the iPad (or on the web), to show the path they created.

Reindeer Code
credit: Amanda Fogelman

Here's a Santa coding activity I created, with a few obstacles to get from one corner to the other.  I wanted kids to move around the grid instead of straight over and down.  Again, they drag the arrows, then use the drawing tool to check their code.

Next, I decided to have kids find a way to get Santa to eat all the cookies, then get back to his sleigh.  I incorporated a "collect" command (cookie emoji), just like in activities with the flowers and jewels.  The code has to have Santa pick up the cookie before moving to the next box.

Same idea, with a "grab" command (hand emoji) for the elf to pick up toys to load in Santa's sleigh.

I introduced these activities to students to do at a coding station on our iPads throughout the month, so I'm excited to see how they enjoy them.  Manipulating labels and drawing tools work on the web version of Seesaw, too (the arrows and cookie emoji change a bit when you click on them, but the hand command doesn't show up - maybe you can change that to something else.... see what you think). Please comment and let me know how your kids like them, too.  And feel free to share away, as well as be inspired to make more seasonal coding puzzles on your own and share back.  :)

If you are looking for a fun "unplugged" coding activity this holiday season, I also found this:

Happy coding, and happy holidays!