Curriculum

Preschool and Kindergarten

Coding is merely learning a language in order to speak to a device such as a computer or robot. It helps younger children learn sequentially and allows them the ability to understand how to "tinker" to gain knowledge. Coding starts with preschoolers with offline activities such as following directions and planning sequences. Instead of using words (since they are non-readers) we use arrows, counting, and directional vocabulary. Simply laying out grids on a tile floor to figure out how to move from one tile to another is a form of coding. If a classroom doesn't have tile floors, blue painters tape is easy and inexpensive. Other offline games are listed below:

The district has also purchased BeeBots and Osmo Coding Kits for all preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Beebots are little bumblebee-type devices that come six to a set and have a USB charging base. Students work collaboratively to program the device to move on a mat from one space to another to accomplish a task. It is easy to incorporate all content areas into this activity.

In the Discovery Education app, there is a coding section designed for K-5th grade. It begins with introductory Blockly coding and progresses to an introduction to Python. 

First and Second Grade

These grade levels will also use Osmo Coding Awbie and begin to incorporate some web-based coding activities. It is important to note that coding and robotics will not be taught as a separate subject area, but will be integrated into the math and science content areas. It is also designed as a workstation activity and not a whole group lesson. Students should work in pairs to facilitate collaboration and problem solving. The web-based activity for coding comes from Google's Made With Code project. While the projects can be used by both girls and boys, Google created this website to encourage young girls to become interested in coding, as there is a huge divide between gender when it comes to coding. The video below on the left is a tutorial on how to use the site and the video on the right is one from Google's CEO. Second grade classrooms can checkout the Dot robots from the Instructional Technology office. Dot is a robot like Dash, but is much simpler to learn. There are also Dash robots in each school that they can begin to use in a simplified form. Primary classrooms planning to use the Wonderbots should use the Blockly Jr. app on the iPad. Check your self-service app to download it if you don't see it on the iPad. Blockly Jr is easier than Blockly and doesn't require as much language skill.

Discovery Education has a wonderful coding application especially designed for teaching the introduction to coding with Blockly type activities. Lessons progress up through an introduction to Python. 

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade

Dash robots (from Wonderbot) are incredible little blue devices that are programmed using the Blockly app. There are other apps that work with the robots, but we don't push them out as they are more game-like and the purpose of using the robots is to learn coding. There are also quite a few accessories that also are available for Dash. The district did not provide these to school, but they are free to purchase those from school funds if they wish. Coding and robotics is integrated into the science and mathematics content areas. Coding and robotics should be initially taught as a whole group activity, at least until students are comfortable with the concept, and then it can be added as a workstation activity as a way to apply science and math skills. Coding and robotics are a technology tool to be used when it works into the regular curriculum. Below is a link to the Dash HyperDoc that provides a step-by-step introduction to using Dash in your classroom. Please start with sharing the rules for using Dash with your students as we want to keep them functioning and in good repair as long as possible. We start students working with the puzzles to get them acquainted with the functions of Blockly coding. It is NOT necessary for students to complete all puzzles as some are not appropriate for all grades. A scaffolded list will be provided for each grade level before deployment. There will also be some sample lesson plans available on this site for teachers to use if they wish. The lesson plans are not mandatory, just offered to give teachers an idea of what is possible.

Click here to access the Dash HyperDoc.

There are also other coding opportunites for intermediate grade levels They include

  • Discovery Education
  • Code.org
  • Google CS First

Sixth through Tenth Grade

At these grade levels, robotics moves to Cue Wonderbot. They come in Onyx and Granite colors and are much more sphisticated than the Dash robots. They have the capability of being programmed in eihter Blockly or in Javascript. Sixth and seventh grade students should continue using Blockly and eighth through tenth grade students should segue into the Javascript language. Coding and robotics can be taught in the middle school computer science and regulat content areas. We have a few sketch kits for Cue that facilitate integration into geometry instruction.

Other coding opportunites for upper lever students:

  • Google CS First
  • Swift
  • Javascript
  • Google App Script
  • Lego Robotics
  • Sphero
  • Python
  • Drones
  • 3D Printing

TCALC

Students interested in coding and robotcs as juniors and seniors should enroll in the available classes at Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers. They offer robotics using VEX robots. There are also classes in web, apps and games.

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