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Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot


Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot


Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

I really enjoy finding ways to integrate academic content when using Coding Robots. What a great way to see students SO engaged while learning! These activities can be used with any moving bots, such as the Code and Go, Bee Bots, BOLT by Sphero, Dash and Dot, Botley, Code-a-Pillar, etc. To see my recommendations list for Coding Robots for the classroom, head to my Amazon List and look at the Tech Toys section.

A Primer on Coding Concepts

Coding with students is really just like sequencing. The vocabulary is a little different because we are using math and computer science terms instead of language terms.
For example, a coding sequence, when put together, creates an algorithm that the computer understands as a program. In real life, a sequence is a set of instructions or steps that WE (instead of a computer) understand.

Basically, we are asking our students to be computational thinkers – to think like a computer
Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

Just like with the sequence of a story, if any of the steps are missing, the story is incomplete.
With coding, once the program is run, (the programmer presses start) the computer will go through the whole sequence (algorithm) without stopping. If there is a mistake (bug) in the algorithm then the end result will be wrong. 
Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

How to Use Vocab Coding with any sets of vocab

The most straightforward way to use these activities is to have students program their bot to go to one term at a time.
Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

To add a challenge, give students multiple stopping points for their path.
This might mean choosing 5 cards from the pile and that is the order in which they need to write their program.
Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

Add levels of complexity by requiring students to program in “jumping over” pieces or spaces, and “collecting” and “discarding” the pieces they picked from the pile.
Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot

Due to the factor of choice in these activities, there are no answer keys. Have students check each other.
We call the "path of destruction" our way of checking our answers!

No Bots? No Problem!

Vocab Coding (VoCode) Activities to Use with Any Coding Robot
You can have students act as the robots or you can use the No Bot option included in the sets. 

So far I have completed these activities for the following vocab:
  • Computer Parts
  • PC Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Computer Icons
I have plans for more, but would love to take requests for this growing bundle. What tech related vocab would you like to see included? 
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Brittany Washburn
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12 Must Have Mobile Apps for Classroom Management

12 Must Have Mobile Apps for Classroom Management


There are so many apps out there for school and technology integration, but what is best for your classroom?


There are so many apps out there for school and technology integration, but what is best for your classroom? There are applications for organizing your classroom, lessons, and presentations. There are applications for student portfolios, parent engagement, and school community integration. And there are TONS of apps for polling, studying and quizzing.

My top three applications for the classroom are Classdojo, Peardeck, and Kahoot. Each of these applications does something a little different for my classroom, but all are essential for learning, assessing, and communication. Below is a list of some of the essential apps for your classroom.

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Brittany Washburn
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Small Motor STEM

Small Motor STEM


Small Motor STEM

What is Small Motor STEM?

We have all of these amazing small motor materials and let students explore them, which totally serves its purpose. I want to take it to the next level, though, and give students STEM challenges to complete with the small motor materials. Voila, Small Motor STEM is born!

Pixel Art is really trendy in edtech right now, so I was racking my brain to come up with a way to take it offline and do it in a way that is independent for students. 
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

Combining Pixel Art with design constraints and small motor materials means that these activities meet so many standards. This list is really just the beginning. If you combine any extra writing activities (planning and/or reflection) you can bring in even more!

STANDARDS
ISTE: 1.b, 1.c, 2.d, 4.b, 4.d
CSTA: CPP.L1:3-04, CPP.L1:6-05, CT.L1:3-03, CT.L1:6-01, CT.L1:6-02, CT.L2-07
NGSS: K-2-PS3-2, 3-5-ETS1-2
CC Math Standards: 2.G.2
CC ELA: SL.1.1, SL.1.2, L.1.6 SL.2.1, SL.2.2, L.2.6 SL.3.1. SL.3.3, L.3.6 
Computational Thinking Practices:
Creativity
Collaboration
Communication
Persistence
Problem Solving

Getting Organized with Small Motor STEM

The cards are color coded for the level.
Level 1- Black outline
Level 2- Blue outline
Level 3- Orange outline
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Level 1- Provide students with one of the Small Motor STEM Mats and the full pixel designs. Students will recreate the design using any material they have available.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

  • Level 2- Give students design constraints by limiting their materials and providing them the pixel designs that require them to finish the image by mirroring the other half.
    Level 3- Require students to go without the grid and recreate the designs with limited materials.
    Collaborative Option- Students work in pairs where one holds the design card and dictates to the other student which color(s) to put in which spaces on the grid. Communication is key!
  • Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
    Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

1.Print, cut, laminate the cards in the levels of difficulty you want for your students.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

2.Put the cards on a ring or in a task box.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn


Materials to use for Small Motor STEM

The materials that can be used for these tasks are nearly limitless. They just need to be relatively small and have the right color selections.

Materials Ideas:
  • Pom-poms
  • Blocks of any kind
  • Perler beads
  • Craft beads and pipe cleaners or ribbon
  • Buttons
  • Hole punch dots
  • Foam balls
  • Snap cubes
  • Counting bears
  • Centimeter cubes
  • Counting chips
  • Lite-Brite
  • Markers/Crayons/Colored Pencils

Anything else you have on hand that has enough pieces in the right colors
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

1.Have a place in your classroom where you store these materials for quick access.
2.Challenge students to come up with resources to complete the designs.



Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
You can even do a life-size grid! I made this out of plastic cups and counting bears. 

Bringing in the Academics to Small Motor STEM

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
The vocabulary cards and recording sheet give you what you need for a mini-lesson about Pixel Art and following a "program" to complete the designs, as well as a reflection activity that asks students to write about their process. 

I recommend printing and laminating all of the vocabulary cards to have on the wall or displayed near your STEM or Makerspace area for students to use as a reference during their activity time. 

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Here are some other photo examples to show the materials students can use. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
 Don't have quite the right colors? No problem, just replace them with what you do have.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
 The grid isn't a perfect 10x10? Challenge students to figure out how to still make the design proportional (something like if they choose to skip a space vertically they may or may not also need to skip a space horizontally).
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn


It would mean the world to me if you'd send me some photos (or post them on social media and tag me so I can see them) of your students completing these challenges. I can't wait to hear what they think!

Small Motor STEM

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Brittany Washburn
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Teaching Email in the Elementary Classroom

Teaching Email in the Elementary Classroom



 Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.

Teaching email in the Elementary classroom can be a challenge, and there is little to find online about how to do it. This may be due to the variation and exposure students have at such a young age. Some students may already have access to texting, some may not. Some may have a desktop at home, others may not. So, it’s important that the students have a basic grasp on the technology they are using before attempting to teach them email.

That being said, teaching email is a lot like teaching the long lost art of letting writing, just change your language from “letter writing” to “email writing”!  I know college professors who still receive terribly informal messages from students. The more concrete and specific you teach about letter/email writing, the better students’ emails will be. This may even be a good time to begin introducing some email language like “draft”. The letter portion of an email before it is sent is called a draft.

As I mentioned before, student’s will differ on their technology exposure, writing abilities, and learning styles. To begin teaching with the formal email draft writing, think of a good email writing assignment to complete as a group or individually. Here are some possible ideas:
-          They may be writing an email about what they did over Christmas break.
-          They may write an email to the principal about how great he or she is.
-          It could be an email to a teacher requesting more time to complete an assignment, or telling them why they are going to miss school tomorrow.

There are so many possibilities. What types of letter ideas have you practiced in your classroom?


 Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.


Go over the parts of a letter/email:
-          Email address
-          Subject
-          Greeting
-          Body
-          Closing
Go over basic email/letter etiquette:
-          Use proper grammar
-          Use complete sentences
-          Be polite
-          No texting abbreviations
-          No emojis

Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.

 Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.

Here are some of the terms to introduce:
-          Compose: How to start a new email.
-          Email address: The person or places address the email is going to.
-          Subject: Briefly what your email is about.
-          Draft: email before it is sent
-          Inbox: Where you receive email
-          Sent: Where the messages you sent are.
-          Reply: How to send another email to the same person you received.
-          Reply all: If there is more than one email address, you can reply to all the people in the list.

 Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.

Different email interfaces may have different layouts or symbols, but the basics are always there.

Warning: some students may think of email like texting or chatting, but it’s important to distinguish. Email is formal, and texting is not. If you compare email to texting, then the work that students put in may look like texting instead of letter writing. In these days of modern technology, email is the new letter, so keep it as simple as possible, and maybe these kids will be able to write a decent draft to their professors and potential employers in the future.

How do you teach email and messaging in the classroom?

Other resources for teaching email:
-          Lessons for K-2nd grade: https://www.commonsense.org/education/lesson/sending-email-k-2
-          3rd Grade Technology Curriculum Internet Safety Unit Lessons 2 and 3: https://www.k5technologycurriculum.com/product/3rd-grade-tech-lesson-plans/



 Once students have a basic understanding of email writing, and possibly even an email to send, we can enter into an email interface.


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Brittany Washburn
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Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Keyboarding is one of my favorite tech skills to teach. Even though it isn't exactly exciting for students, I've found some fun ways over the years to make it engaging and meaningful for them. In this blog post I'm sharing 4 tips and tricks for typing with elementary students.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Start Keyboarding Early

It is never too soon for students to start becoming familiar with the keyboard layout. 
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Having a keyboard displayed up on the wall is a great way to begin. You can use it to point out where letters are during your mini lessons or if a student needs a reminder. 

For the first few years of tech class, our Keyboarding time is really just becoming familiar with where all of the keys are so that students can find them more efficiently. By the end of Kindergarten, students should be able to find the letters and numbers they need to log in and get to the class website. By the end of first grade, they should be able to find any letter or number reasonably fast. "Proper" keyboarding starts in second grade. 

Start early also means to jump right back into it at the beginning of each school year. Students in the older grades need the refresher to be efficient with their assignments. 

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Start Keyboarding on Paper before moving to Digital


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

These large keyboards are such a great way to get started. Students practice finding the letters with velcro pieces. Once they get pretty good at it, we have timed races! 
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
When we finish this unit, I put one of these keyboards on the wall to use as review from time to time. Makes a great activity for when we are waiting for the teacher to pick up the class or if we wrap up early. See more ideas in the Spiral Review tip later in this post.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
 Since my youngest students are still learning their letters, I like to bring their academics into keyboarding. I have sets prepped of File Folder Keyboards with an assortment of velcro pieces. I can use these to differentiate for where a student is academically. Are they working on uppercase letters? Give them the set with matching 1:1 uppercase letters. Or provide more of a challenge by giving them the lowercase keyboard and uppercase letter pieces to match. Take it to the next level with pictures that represent each letter for them to match.
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
If you have room for workstations in your lab, this makes a great station activity. Very impressive for an admin observation, too!

Keyboarding falls under 2 categories of the ISTE Standards for Students
1. d. (Empowered Learner), students should understand fundamental concepts of technology operations including how to use devices and basic knowledge of software applications.
6. b. (Creative Communicator), students create original works or responsibly re-purpose digital resources into new creations.

The CCSS doesn't have explicit wording about keyboarding until 3rd grade, but by then it would be hard to catch up.
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

For older students, we color code printable keyboards based on the correct hand positions. This is how I do it:
    Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
  • 2nd-3rd graders create a keyboard that has only 5 colors, for each finger. The keys are color coded for both hands. So, all of the keys that will be pressed by either pinky finger are colored the same. We do this for all of the letter and number keys. The only downfall I've seen to doing this is that some students learn the pointer fingers incorrectly and reach across the mid line so then end up having to fix it later on. 
  • 4th-5th graders have a different color for each finger on each hand, with only the space bar sharing a color across hands. This takes it to the next level and helps them to really visualize where their hands go.

 Moving on to Digital Keyboard Practice

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

 I absolutely love this resource for my youngest students. They get to practice their sight words and the color coded rows really nail down their understanding of the keyboard layout. I'm talking going from spending 60 seconds to find a letter down to like 10 seconds or less. Game changer!! By the way this file comes with the template for you to make your own words, too.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Preparing students to take a standardized test on a computer can be really intimidating. 3rd graders can still barely type 5 words per minute! I work through a unit on the "Special Keys" to make sure that students will be able to do mathematical computations, proper grammar, and use the symbols correctly. This is a really important step so that their technology literacy doesn't get in the way of their ability to perform on the tests.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Make Keyboarding Engaging with Goals and Competition

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
One of the best ways I have found to encourage students to practice their typing skills is having a leader board displayed.
Managing this with 500+ students doesn't have to be difficult. I print out and laminate blank flash drive pieces and have students write in their own names with a dry or wet erase marker. This makes it independent for students to add and move their own names as they progress.

I also think it is helpful for students to track their own progress. I have a blog post here about how I do a "Typing Olympics" bootcamp in 3rd grade every year.

While there aren't any official lists of words per minute goals, these have worked well for me:
2nd grade: 5 WPM
3rd grade: 10 WPM
4th grade: 15 WPM
5th grade: 20 WPM

At this rate I expect at least 95% accuracy for everyone. If I have any students significantly above the WPM expectations, I slow them down to where they can type with 100% accuracy.

This isn't the popular opinion, but I don't harp on perfect hand position and posture. I do ask students to use all of their fingers and keep their hands near the keys, but don't require them to be perfect. In 5th grade I start to point it out more that they will be more efficient if they follow the hand position guidelines.


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
It is so important to keep practicing keyboarding! I have my 4th and 5th graders start class with 10 minutes of fun typing practice on game sites (you can find my list of keyboarding practice sites here and feel free to use it with your students).

I also always keep a few copies of printable keyboard coloring pages available for early finishers, last-minute sub plans, days when the wifi is down, etc.

Keyboarding games online are always a choice for early finishers.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

These technology vocabulary typing activities have become a favorite of my students.

How do you teach your elementary students to type? I'd love to hear if you do it in a similar way or totally differently.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

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Brittany Washburn
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