Weaving Writing & Coding
Thanks to @DonorsChoose I now have Bee Bots so that my students can explore code all year long. Last week these little, colorful bees arrived and right away my students were engaged. They were curious about “how to” get them to move and do things that they wanted to them to do. This was an opportunity for me to weave a writing theme of study “How To” writing.
So as we began to explore the bees, we needed to understand how they worked and “how to” take care of them. One of my students noticed that when “we plug our bees in one eye lights up, so it must be charging.” Later when the light goes out my students carefully unplug the bee and return it to it’s “hive”/docking station. This happens naturally because this is another way we care for our new friends.
I trust my students to be able to make responsible and safe decisions independently because we have spent lots of time creating a culture where we trust and support each other. This is how my students begin to think for themselves. These bees are now part of our learning culture after only 4 days. They are not a distraction, but rather an opportunity for my students to explore code in a collaborative way.
After we explored the care of our bees I decided that my students could create their own Bee Bot out of paper and a “how to” story about how to use and care for our Bee Bots. This was a hit! Not only did every student write a story, but the stories were all different and they highlighted what they understood. Everyone was engaged, interested and successful in creating their story.
This was an opportunity for me also to notice what students understood not only how to care and use Bee Bots, but did they also understand the features of a “how to” story. They did an amazing job.
We came up with these elements that every “How To” story needed;
3. Pictures that match words
4. Tells us “How To” do something
This now becomes an anchor chart that we display in the classroom as a reminder about what our “How To” stories need. Anchor charts are great because they offer opportunities for children to read independently, solve problems they face and also opportunities to ask a friend for help.
This learning experience offers all my students opportunities to create and design using code, oral language and endless ways to explore writing.
The bees can be programed to go where we want them to go. I have an alphabet chart that offers the children an opportunity to use code to tell the bee what letter to go to and how. The children are using oral language as a way to collaborate, ask questions and share ideas. This has offered my students ways to work together to solve problems in a fun and engaging way.
Coding has given me and my students an opportunity to learn alongside each other. It is a brand new idea with lots of invitations for us to engage and ask questions together to solve problems. I am trying to think of more paths for this to happen.
I teach because I care and want to offer invitations for my students to learn how to learn themselves. Bee bots have really opened my mind to the possibilities of how this can happen. I am so grateful for @donorschoose because they have opened many doors for my students and me to pursue.
Collaborating Through Literacy
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the importance of having a variety of literacy opportunities available throughout the day. I’m also thinking about where are the times, the moments and invitations where my students have choice and also opportunities to collaborate around an idea and interest inspired by a story.
Thinking about literacy…. My students really enjoy reading and looking at books. I feel fortunate to have so many books, and a variety of titles and genres too.
Exploration of text is important for my students to begin to understand and develop their voice as young writers and readers. Through their exploration they also begin to develop an awareness, experience perspective, having an opinion and also use their imagination to talk and act out what they experience.
Recently we explored the books of Dr. Seuss. We were able to participate in a Google On Air Hangout with friends in Wisconsin to share our ideas and connections we made with some of the books we read. Through this experience my students were able to share, reflect and begin to develop perspective and how others are interested in what we are while also inspiring us to try new things.
Through collaborative play my students made choices about what they wanted to do one morning after we have had many experiences with Dr. Seuss’s stories. Puzzle making was a great way to collaborate and talk about what happened in the story.
Later some students created a cafe where green eggs and ham was the featured item! Later one of my students asked to share his Kidblog because while he was traveling, he ordered green eggs and ham and met Sam! This was wonderful to see because this student shared his title and photo. From this he was able to ask for questions and comments and facilitate responses. So… afterwards everyone wanted to read the story Green Eggs and Ham!
Creating and designing with blocks is also another way to encourage children to collaborate and create a “blueprint” of their ideas. 2 of my students were so pleased to discover that their structure looked “just like” their drawing. This was a wonderful example of how 2 of my students created an idea together, while also inspiring others to try. Now we have paper in all areas of our classroom so students can write, label, create diagrams, etc. Anything goes!
For me passion comes from curiosity and my own ideas through my experiences. I am trying to think of more authentic ways I can engage and explore text with my students making choices about the what, why and how they choose the books they do. Through this opportunity, an invitation to choose, students will take risks with text and begin to explore ways to share what they understand as writers.
1. Provide a variety of books and writing materials throughout the classroom
2. Offer invitations to document what is exciting and of interest. Leave digital tools, iPads out to be used as a way to capture and record students voices.
3. Highlight via Kidblog, blogging and Twitter the literacy that is being celebrated daily. This gives students an opportunity to share their voice as a confident individual.
4. Ask your students what types of books they enjoy and have them available!
5. Through play our students are very creative through using their imagination to react a story and use their voice.
6. Offer invitations to families to come into your classroom so that your students can celebrate their learning!
Looking forward to our next theme, poetry…