Saturday, February 18, 2017

Coding In Kindergarten? Yes! - Part 2

Here are some notes and observations on my experience.
Each day I met with a group of six students (in partners), using 3 Beebots, at the main carpet area. The students faced me, and I set the mats to one side.
I showed them the command buttons on the Beebot: forward, left turn, right turn, backwards, stop, and "x" for cancel the previous program (like a reset). Then they explored using the BeeBots.
On the carpet, one partner told the other partner to program the Beebot, eg. forward, forward, right turn. Then they switched. Some students were quite shy and it took a while for them to verbalize to their partner. But all were successful. This time also allowed the students to play with the BeeBots on their own, and to share with their partner after each turn. Then they all returned to face me.
I placed the Treasure Island map in front of me so they could see it, and asked them to name all the different things they could see. They did really well with all this vocabulary and identified: ladder, bridge, octopus, volcano, sharks, secret passage. I prompted them to identify the groups of trees and the river, and anything else they did not name. Then I explained that the BeeBot would be placed in the corner and one partner would challenge the other to "go to x location." Then they would switch.
With the clear grid, I used a nice stone from the classroom collection. One student placed the stone in a square, and the other would get the BeeBot to move from a location at the edge of the mat to touch the stone. 
Once the two groups were dispersed, I introduced the streetscape, as it took a bit longer to identify all the locations. Some are sort of urban, and not readily identifiable to our students. One or two students could read the names on the storefronts. Same routine, with one partner asking the other to get the BeeBot to go to a specific location.
Timing: approximately ten minutes to introduce, ten minutes at their first map, and then ten minutes at a second map. They took their own BeeBots and moved to a new map.
Instructions I found myself using:
What is the path it would take, can you point to the path?
How many steps?
Right turn or left turn?
Let's count out the steps before pressing the buttons.
With the streetscape, I told them to have the BeeBot enter the store, not just drive down the street to that location.
Strategies I observed:
One-to-one tapping of squares and buttons, with one hand tapping the squares forming the path, and the other simultaneously tapping the BeeBot buttons.
Lots of counting out loud.
Lots of verbal command lists: eg. forward, forward, forward, turn, forward.
Looking at the physical arrow buttons to clarify whether to turn left or right.
With the clear mat and stone, some groups started making roundabout paths, not just the most direct path; this helped them input longer series of commands.
Students working together to identify the pattern, and to say it out loud while the BeeBot was being programmed, or while it was running.
Next steps:
Math such as adding up steps to a total: 3 forward plus 1 turn plus 1 forward equals 5 steps.
Going off the maps and estimating how many forward steps might be needed to get from one classroom location to another.
Phrasing the street map in a different way describing store functions: move BeeBot to a store where it could get a haircut, where it could buy gas, where it could mail a letter, etc.
For three students, next steps would involve adding a turn, as they were successful only with defining short forward paths.
In terms of the whole class, staff and students alike are confident enough to incorporate BeeBots as one of their centres on a daily basis.

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