(Editor's note: Megan Bobroske is a second grade teacher at Denver's Bradley International School)
Coding was a brand new experience for my second graders. Prior to using CodeSnaps, a free coding app from Curriculum Pathways, a few of them had participated in an after-school coding club, and another handful had done beginning coding in their gifted and talented class. But like so many elementary classes, my students and I were really beginning our computer science adventure from scratch.
We kicked off our coding journey with a modified version of the Navigate an Obstacle Course. All we needed for the entire class was an iPad and a Sphero robot. Prior to class I printed the CodeSnaps blocks from the activity's Lesson Guide.
Students worked in groups of six, deciding among themselves who was going to be “team captain” for each challenge as well as delegating other tasks they would need to accomplish. The students rotated between the jobs they created in their teams, such as “measurement captain,” “meter stick guard,” “Sphero keeper,” “iPad handler,” “Blocks Builder,” and -- my favorite --“work checker.” They quickly discovered that if one person tried to control and run the entire operation, the team would run out of time to complete the challenge. Only when all were doing their jobs and communicating were they able to complete the task successfully.
In addition to introducing coding, the CodeSnaps activities directly supported our math curriculum – specifically our unit on measurement and data. The students had worked with rulers before, but this was their first time using a meter stick, which was a perfect introduction to our measurement-tools lesson! We had also discussed the importance of labeling units when measuring. CodeSnaps proved to them that if they did not label correctly, the Sphero would not go where they wanted it to go!
Participating in CodeSnaps helped develop visualizing and planning skills for all the students. One highlight of our coding sessions was how the activity engaged students with different learning abilities. My special education students and my second language learners all found ways to contribute. The bottom line: All my students were extremely engaged with CodeSnaps!
Perhaps most importantly, using CodeSnaps taught my students to persevere though mistakes, to try again, and to maintain a growth mindset. As an IB school, we focus on Attitudes and Learn Profiles to develop student character. The teamwork required in CodeSnaps emphasized these perfectly. My students now relate other classroom activities to their coding experience, reminding each other about the importance of teamwork.
Thanks to CodeSnaps, my students are now obsessed with coding and with measuring! When we reflected at the end of our coding experience, the students brought up how important it was to communicate and collaborate if they wanted to accomplish a challenge. They have learned that when they work together, exciting things happen!
Each year my students write letters to the next year's class. CodeSnaps clearly made an impression!