Friday, December 12, 2014

Coding & Robotics Week 3

This week, during our Coding & Robotics club time, our students were actually able to program the Sphero Robotics balls using the app MacroLab.  Thankfully, Dr. Keith explained all of this to the students!

He started our club time by showing the students that they could actually do more with the Sphero balls that just drive them using the iPads as a remote control. Using our big screen, he demonstrated how to command the Sphero to do what you want it to do using an app called Sphero Macrolab.

Basic programming was explained to the students, as well as degrees and angles. The Sphero Macrolab site says, "The macro system we have developed for Sphero has very practical applications, such as teaching kids procedural thinking and basic programming skills."

It was very exciting to watch the students actually program the Sphero instead of driving it with the iPad app. There was definitely collaboration and critical thinking involved in this process, as pairs of students worked together to drive the Sphero ball.

iPads ready with the Sphero MacroLab app
The students did a great job of applying what Dr. Keith had taught them, and Sphero balls were buzzing all around the library! 

A few students worked with the new Sphero Ollie, using their own device to control it. We had a little difficulty finding the right device to pair with it as it seems our iPads are too old for the app to work. Luckily, a couple of our students had newer devices and downloaded the app. That is a great thing about being a BYOD campus! Someone usually has a device that will work!

As if learning to program the Sphero balls weren't enough, we also brought out the new Makey-Makey we received through Donors Choose. I have to admit that I have been a little intimidated by the Makey-Makey, but the students (with the help of Dr. Keith) figured it out quickly! We even had students come in during lunch the next day to explore it more!

Next week we will continue to learn programming using the Sphero ball and the Sphero Ollie. After the Christmas break we will bring in new members to learn coding and robotics, while the current members continue learning. It is exciting to hear the students talking about coding, coming into the library during lunch, recess and any free time, to work with the computers or Sphero balls! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

2014 Edublog Awards

The Edublog Awards are an annual event that celebrate "the best of the best on the web". It began in 2004 as a response to the lack of access to learner and teacher blog sites. It's purpose is to "promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media." Curtis Elementary was excited to learn that there are two blogs that have been named finalists. Our assistant principal, Lorie Bratcher's blog, Passion Lives Here, has made the short list in the Best New Blog category.

Our own library blog, Continuously Learning in the Library, is a finalist in the Best Library/Librarian Blog category.  

I am honored to be a finalist, but I know that I am only there because of some pretty incredible people who are also nominated! I would encourage you to look at each category and find new people to add to your PLN (Personal Learning Network.) While you are there, vote for some of the people that make you better. Thankfully, you can vote for more than one in each category, which is great since it is hard to choose between all of the great blogs, chats, and tools!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Robotics and Coding Club

Curtis students met for the second time last week  for the Robotics & Coding club. This session there are four weeks and students will be able to work with the Sphero robotics balls & Ollies for 2 weeks and code for two weeks. We are using for coding, as well as other sites that can be found on our Coding Symbaloo.

With 20 members in the club, and more wanting to join each day, having help is necessary. Thankfully, we have a parent who enjoys working with the students. Dr. Keith Emmert also happens to be a math professor at a nearby university so that is an added bonus! In addition to Dr. Keith, as the kiddos call him, we also had two high school students who were working for community service hours. This was a big help! 

The students loved the addition of the Ollies to the robotics club. We did have a little difficulty finding a device that would run the app. It seems are library iPads are too old to run it, and even my phone wouldn't run the app. Fortunately, two students had devices that would run the app, so we were able to see how they worked.

The plan will be to continue to work with these students with coding & robotics, even after the four weeks are up, and then bring in more students. 

There was a tweet recently that said something to the effect of "it isn't possible if you don't know it is possible". This is one of the main reasons we are introducing coding to our students. As they move through middle school and high school, they will pick a track to focus on. As the site says in one of their videos, approximately one million jobs may go unfilled due to not having a skilled workforce for computer coders. Maybe a few of our students will choose to learn more. We have one student who created an app after participating in Hour of Code last year.

Grant explaining his app to Mrs. Rife

It is fun to see students becoming more comfortable with coding and operating the Sphero & Ollie. As we head into Hour of Code week, I'm excited to see what they discover! One thing I've learned is that I don't have to be an expert at something before I open it up to students. If I waited until I was comfortable with coding and robotics, our club would never have started. I am learning right beside my students!