When I first started thinking about working with students on coding, I was a little intimidated. My memories are filled with college friends who were learning to code in Linux or COBOL and had very large and complicated looking manuals. If I go even further back to my elementary years when the Apple IIe was first introduced to us in 4th grade, I remember the complex steps of coding pixelated images that were saved on floppy drives. Or, today, if I accidentally hit a button in a program I am using, a seemingly arcane window appears filled with HTML code.
This month, we take a look at resources that make coding more approachable; and, utilizing traditional narrative structures, we'll connect coding to literacies across the grades.
Resources to Support Your Coding Activities
Setting students up to work independently through the activities in
Although the activities in Hour of Code are a great way to introduce coding, I wanted to see if there was a way to connect coding to other library skills. Then, I remembered the virtual session that
I love the way the
By connecting storytelling with coding, we can help our students bridge the gap between these two literacies.
Connecting Coding to Literacy
In this month's elementary lesson, Ashley Cooksey applies the same skills needed to understand the sequence of events in a story to also understand how algorithms are used in coding. Students then gain experience in coding through activities on code.org or codeSpark Academy, depending on grade level. Many of the activities shared through the Hour of Code site could also be used in this lesson.
For the secondary lesson, I wanted to continue with the literacy theme because how a story comes together is similar to writing code. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something fun with coding robots. I have seen other librarians use robots like Dash and Dot or Sphero with students, but I had the most experience with Ozobots. Instead of using stories written by others, I wanted students to craft their own narratives to use with their robots.
My first idea was for students to create a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type story, where depending on your choice, the robot would take you down different paths. After some contemplation, I realized I wasn't quite sure how to pull that off. I'm still hoping to figure it out, so if you have any ideas, let me know!
Instead, inspiration hit when I saw someone post something about the Fractured Fairy Tales segments from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. What if students used their Ozobots to tell a fractured fairy tale of their own creation? There are a wide variety of picture books available to use as examples of how to adjust traditional stories. Students can use their knowledge of story elements like character, setting, and plot to craft their fractured tale. Then, they can use the Ozobots to tell the story by using the codable actions (you can adjust this depending on what robots you have access to at your school).
No matter your approach, connecting coding to literacy is a logical partnership for any grade level. There are a many great resources available if you'd like to learn more about using coding with your students.
- You can host an Hour of Code event from Dec 7-13, 2020 (or any time during the year), https://hourofcode.com/us#join, https://hourofcode.com/us, https://code.org/.
- There is a free version of codeSpark Academy for educators, https://codespark.com/educators.
- Coding as Another Language project, https://sites.tufts.edu/devtech/research/coding-as-literacy/, from Tufts University includes 24 lessons in their Coding as Another Language curriculum (https://sites.tufts.edu/codingasanotherlanguage/), along with shorter units centered around a children's book designed to engage emergent readers in programming.
- "Coding and Robotics for Deeper Learning" webinar from edWeb.net, https://home.edweb.net/webinar/code20201029/: The first 12 minutes of this webinar are super informative in relation to using coding with students. The last chunk of it is going through how to code a specific robot (Photon) to remotely complete activities on Mars. They share how this activity can be done in person, remote, or hybrid. You could easily translate what they use to other robots and activities.
- Also, check out Libraries Ready to Code at https://www.ala.org/tools/readytocode/home.
- "Coding in the School Library": Join librarians Kelsey Gourd and Calypso Gilstrap as they discuss mindsets and methods you can use to successfully integrate coding instruction into your library curriculum for students of any age.
- "Solving Problems with Coding in the Library": In this sequel to their popular first webinar, Kelsey Gourd and Calypso Gilstrap dive deeper into practical projects that you can try with your students, no matter your own personal experience with computer programming.
- Gourd, Kelsey. "Coding in Elementary: Moving beyond Playing to Producing." School Library Connection, October 2017, https://schoollibraryconnection.com/Content/Article/2126761.
- Moorefield-Lang, Heather, and Ida Mae Craddock. "Block Coding." School Library Connection, January 2020, https://schoollibraryconnection.com/Content/Article/2232714.
- Moorefield-Lang, Heather, "Hour of Code: Programming Comes to the Library." School Library Connection, September 2015, https://schoollibraryconnection.com/Content/Article/1955229.
Recommended Fractured Fairy Tale Picture Books to Pair with Coding Activities
No Dogs Allowed by Linda Ashman (Sterling Children's Books 2011)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (World Publishing Company 1969)
The Three Little Superpigs by Claire Evans (Scholastic 2016)
Ninja Chicks by Rebecca J. Gomez, Corey Rosen Schwartz (Scholastic 2016)
Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins (MacMillan 1968)
Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and Troy Cummings (Scholastic 2015)
The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier (Scholastic Press 2018)
The Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini and Barry Moser (Simon & Schuster 2005)
Twig by Aura Parker (Simon & Schuster 2018)
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (Margaret K. McElderry Books 1989)
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 2014)
The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (HMH Books for Young Readers 2011)
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt (Scholastic 2015)
Pentland, Courtney. "Coding and Literacy: A Logical Partnership." School Library Connection, December 2020, schoollibraryconnection.com/Content/Article/2258829.
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