Tag Archives: beebot

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasonal

I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s December already.  And not just the beginning of December, but almost half way through December!

With today’s stormy weather (at least by San Diego standards), winter feels near.  Our students were in for their snack recess…and out in the blustery wind for lunch.  I couldn’t resist swinging by the beach on my way home to glimpse the wind blown waves as the sun started to set. There’s something magnificent about the way the clouds cluster over the sea, walking along the shore with my jacket zipped to my chin and my hood up, and the wind pulling and pushing as I explored.

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Just a few days before I had stopped on my way home to snap a few photos of the sun setting, golden in the distance.  Instead of feeling the wind, this day was warm and sunny–reminiscent of the summer–unseasonably mild.

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This week is also the annual season for computer coding.  Beebot is the perfect tool for introducing students to the principles of coding…and the kids love programming this mechanical robot to move around its grid. You can see the engagement and intensity on their faces.

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We haven’t gotten our Christmas tree yet, but I did go with my son and daughter-in-law last weekend to pick out theirs.  I love the smell of the pines…and I couldn’t resist this shot of the trees wrapped in their webbing.  It was a fun surprise to look through my pictures and notice the red stands contrasted with the green of the trees.

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And my neighborhood is ablaze with light this time of the year.  It seems that each house is more elaborately lit up than the next.  There are the traditional strings of lights hung from the eaves, the palm trees wrapped in loops of lights, and the much more kitchy reindeer, santas, snowmen, and more!  This image is the tiniest fraction of the lights in this neighborhood!

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So take a look around for what is seasonal in your parts this week.  Will you find evidence of the holidays, notice weather patterns, or come up with some other seasonal evidence?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #seasonal for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Take a look around for the seasonal…and share the view through your lens.  What does seasonal look like in your part of the world?

More Adventures in Coding

It’s Halloween…the perfect day to continue our adventures in coding with our first, second and third grade students!

And thanks to Mark, our ed tech guy, the kids had the advantage of having someone other than their regular teachers reinforce their initial learning and suggest some next steps.

We returned to Beebot today.  Our students love this friendly bee that responds to their fingertip commands.  And it becomes the perfect vehicle (pun intended) for reminding them that programmers have an idea in mind for their code.  Today’s challenge:  can we make Beebot travel in a square and return to where he began?  (The answer was yes!)

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And then we transitioned to Hopscotch.  And our students were in for a treat!  Hopscotch characters were dressed for Halloween today…a special Halloween update.  (The room was electric as the students discovered this new edition on their iPads!)

Mark guided the students as they matched the commands they used on Beebot to the blocks on Hopscotch.  And they carefully coded their first character to make a square.

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As you might expect, there were a few glitches…a perfect opportunity to do some “debugging.”  And then we all tackled making a triangle.

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That was a bit harder.  And some students figured out if you used the repeat block, some interesting triangle designs resulted!  And here is the basic square and triangle we aimed to code for today.

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I hope students take away the value of being able to make the characters do what they want them to do.  This planning is not to get in the way of “happy accidents” but instead to help students do more than move blocks and push play randomly.  I know that many of our students can hardly wait to create some more triangle designs.  Our next invitation might be, what picture can you make with triangles and squares?

The Halloween costumes will go away the next time we update the app…but I hope the lessons learned on Halloween will remain…and become a platform for continued learning. I know I learned a lot today and am more interested in programming than I was before!  I can’t wait to figure out what my students (and I) will do next!

Learning to Code

It seems perfect that this month that includes the National Day on Writing and Connected Educators’ Month is also the time when we have ventured into teaching coding to our students (and ourselves).  My teaching partner and I talked about doing this last year during our 1:1 iPad pilot…but were thwarted by the fact that Scratch requires flash and won’t work on our iPads.  We had even thought about it the year before, that but 30 minutes of computer time per week just didn’t seem adequate.

So to push myself to realize this goal of coding with my students, I have been telling people that I want to do this.  I know myself enough to know that if I don’t make my goals public, somehow it is easier to push them aside when they feel “hard.”  And In our school district this year we have a new Educational Technology teacher.  A credentialed teacher who was hired specifically to help teachers integrate technology into their teaching–in addition to the tech people in our district who help when our technology isn’t working.  I mentioned our desire to teach our students to code in an introductory meeting with the Ed Tech teacher before school began…and he was interested and excited about the prospect.

And so last week he ventured into our classroom at a perfect time to talk…and pinned me down on getting started with coding.  He would come in and get students started–using the Beebot I had purchased at the end of the summer and the Hopscotch app he had learned about.

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I love the way the simple, mechanical Beebot illustrates the basics of programming.  And I love that it also demonstrates how easy it is to have mistakes in your code, and the need to problem solve and “debug” through repeated trials and iteration.  My students were quick to understand the basics and very interested in the Beebot.  First graders could easily explain their thinking–and could figure out where they had made mistakes (older kids could too, and made mistakes too!).

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After exploring how to make Beebot move, we turned to our iPads and opened Hopscotch.  Similar to Scratch, Hopscotch uses interlocking blocks to make the characters move.  After trying a few moves in common and learning to make their character spin, we set students loose to explore the possibilities.

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And they began to “write” their own code!  We gave students the opportunity to share cool things they had figured out with all of us…and promised that we would give them more time to explore this app and create more code.

I don’t know any more about coding at this point than my students do, so we will continue to learn together.  And I think I am as excited about learning to code as they are.  I’m glad our Ed Tech teacher pushed us to set a date to start to work on coding with our students…and I’m glad he was there to get us started.  His checking in on our progress will also be an incentive to continue this with our students.  I have tons more to learn…but who better to learn it with than our students?