Nancy López – It teacher
Janine Cervi – Y2 teacher
Clara Gonález – Y2 teacher
Coding into Beatrix Potter’s World
Continuing with our main aim of introducing coding into the curriculum, we integrated it into our author study Discovering Beatrix Potter’s World: An Introduction to Literary Elements in which we give the students the opportunity to dive into the author’s life and body of work.
While the author study was in process, students continued to work with Kibo in a more challenging way. They were organized in groups of three and solved tasks that demanded cooperative work, creativity, and problem solving. The challenges consisted of a set of instructions that Kibo had to follow. The students had to read and comprehend the instructions and decide which blocks of commands they would need to program the robot. The three students had to agree on the blocks and their order. Before the blocks were scanned, the children and the teacher double checked if their program matched the set of instructions. When it did not, students were prompted to debug the program, which meant finding the existing coding errors such as missing, extra, or misordered blocks. Students were already familiar with this process since they had practiced debugging on Code Studio lessons. After this, the program was scanned and the robot performed the tasks. Challenges increased in difficulty and so did their work, demanding more critical thinking from each member. The advantage of group work at this point was that all students could make a significant contribution from their own perspective and abilities. For instance, those who are more organized could make sure the blocks were in the right order, while those who are more creative were able to find original solutions to problems.
After reading the Tale of Peter Rabbit, students constructed a model of Mr. McGregor’s garden for Kibo to carry Peter around it. Since students have been working on the Math measurement unit throughout the year, they had the necessary skills to measure the robot’s length and width in order to plan the design and size of the garden.
Once the garden was finished and students had solved the most challenging puzzles, they were ready to program Kibo to move around the maze with Peter. The garden presented new difficulties. First students were told the objective which Kibo had to reach. The path was blocked with obstacles, such as Mr. McGregor, a watering can, a net, and a pond. Students had to agree on the safest path to take to reach the destination. After that, they wrote down the set of commands they were going to need to program the robot and collected the necessary blocks. Once the robot was programmed, they tried it out on the maze and adjusted the program if needed.
During the Open Day, in which students show their learning journeys to their families, they were able to explain to a real audience how Kibo worked and to show it in action in Mr. McGregor’s garden. That same day students also had the opportunity to demonstrate their coding skills as they worked on Code Studio and invited their families to join them. Parents were surprised to see the process their children had been through this year, as they could see how the basic coding skills were transferred to the programming of a robot.
What we value the most of integrating coding and robotics in this unit is their impact on the acquirement of skills and content in the making of the maze. During the planning and creation of Mr. McGregor’s garden, which was especially designed for Kibo, students were able to work on math, language and more specifically vocabulary contents. They also worked collaboratively in stations carrying out different artistic tasks in a creative and fun way. It was most gratifying for the children to show everything they learnt about coding and robotics during the year to their families in the open day. For us teachers, it was rewarding to see how much they had learnt as they explained their learning process to their audience.