I had a wonderful recent opportunity to connect with Ontario teacher Scott McKenzie to record this podcast on his approach to embracing coding in the classroom, how his approach has changed and evolved over the last few year and catch a glimpse at “what next” in Scott’s classroom.
I hope listeners appreciate Scott’s open and reflective conversation. Head to the kitchen, prepare a fresh brew and enjoy this conversation with Scott McKenzie.
This blog post features a look at a collaborative coding project at Moffat Creek Public School in Cambridge Ontario. Grade six teacher Vicky McKenna (@VickyMcKenna1 ) collaborated with kindergarten teacher Mark Woodfield (@kindycop) to have her students create a custom program for their assigned kindergarten buddy.
The video includes interviews with Vicki, Mark, digital literacy support teacher Jeff Brown (@jeff_dbrown), student feedback as well as some classroom action.
A year ago, I attended my first WRDSB hosted sphero programming challenge. At this event, students worked in teams to program their sphero ball to travel on a predetermined “track” created with large sheets of chart paper taped down on a gymnasium floor. The focus was on a team approach to solving the path through coding. The excitement and collaboration levels were high as the students worked away at solving the puzzle. Have a look at the video to get a sense of the action.
Original sphero challenge
The next iteration of the WRDSB sphero challenge took a approach. Teams were provided a set of criteria to create a sphero track, which they would then solve using the collaborative approach as was done in the first challenge. I liked the concept behind this new approach combining creativity, differentiation and problem solving. Given the time constraints of running an after school event that involves teams from different schools, and therefore transportation etc. I thought this first attempt went well, although I did observe that some teams struggled with time management in the creation phase so there was less time available to solve the puzzle – good learning on the time management front, but some teams were not able to show their coding skills to the fullest. Check out the action captured in this short video.
Shero challenge 2
I certainly left each of these events on a positive note and pondered “what next”? In terms of track design, I wonder if a mid range approach might work – perhaps having a common start to a track and parameters to complete it to help with the time efficiency element. I applaud the efforts to create a coding challenge that requires collaboration to solve the problem. Over time, it would be great to see more students have this type of opportunity and also have students experience different roles within the team functions.
Tuesday night I had an opportunity to support WRDSB teachers Scott McKenzie and Megan Lowe at their Coding with Spheros workshop. I appreciate their willingness to share their learning and workshop materials openly through a live streaming broadcast and video recording. The workshop provided a solid instructional framework for curriculum context, activities, problem solving and collaboration.
This version of the video is the presentation portion of the workshop (35 minutes). Markers have been placed in the video to highlight the sub topics.
I intended to share this blog post much sooner than today, but life has been a little crazy.
On a recent (March) visit to Ryerson P.S. I had an opportunity to visit the grade 1 classroom of teacher Jenni van Rees. The excitement in the room was obvious as it was coding day! Learning goals for the session were clearly laid out and reviewed with the students.
Students were clearly comfortable using both iPads and Chromebooks as they worked in groups of 2 or 3 for collaborative learning and problem solving.
The students really did work collaboratively, and it was great to see their joy in planning, testing, reviewing results and determining next steps.
Fast foward to April where I had an opportunity to attend a Sphero Challenge event organized by teachers Scott Dickie and Chad Lloyd from Westmount P. S.
I arrived early to see the first of 4 sphero tracks being marked out in the gym. The remaining tracks were laid down as teams from a variety of schools began to arrive.
As was evidenced in Jenni’s classroom, the energy and excitement was in abundance. Teams were eager to embrace the challenge: planning, measuring, calculating, comparing, testing, observing, collaborating, communicating, iterating … “all in” problem solving for sure.
I hope this highlights video give you a good sense of the Sphero Challenge event.