Friday, December 27, 2013

The #HourofCode

December 9th-13th was Computer Science Education week and students at Nathaniel Morton participated in the week long #HourofCode event. The premise behind the event was to introduce computer programming or “coding” to as many students as possible noting that anybody can learn to code. From the website, "Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation."

Because this was my coaching week and not my teaching week, I set up a schedule to meet with all the classes during their independent lab time. I met with students and teachers in the computer lab and introduced a variety of programming applications. Students explored Blockly, Botlogic, Espresso Coding, Scratch and Kodable using both the desktop computers and iPads. 

Students worked independently and collaboratively to solve problems and challenges. It was interesting to observe the students work their way through the programs and also to see how they tackled the problems put before them. Students of all grade levels found the activities engaging and just plain fun. 

I created a coding page on my website where students are encouraged to continue their coding adventures on their own Looking forward to exploring these resources with my students throughout the year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Card Exchange

One of my absolute favorite projects happens every December: The Holiday Card Exchange. This is one of those special activities that I do with only the second grade classes. This annual project developed by Jen Wagner is a perfect way to get started with collaborative learning.

Each classroom was teamed up with 28 other classrooms around the world to exchange cards. An additional card was sent to Project Amigo for students in Mexico. Classrooms created original cards and mailed them out at the beginning of December. When the classrooms began to receive cards, students were very excited to learn about similarities and differences between themselves and their partner classes. 

In terms of facilitating the project, I sign the teachers/classes up and receive all of the emails related to the project. I get the envelopes, print address and return labels and write a letter to be sent to families requesting stamps. I put the bulletin boards together to display all of the awesome cards received as well as to map out locations. Jen Wagner truly does all of the hard work organizing the groups and we are fortunate to benefit from her expertise! 

This year’s theme was hats, mittens and scarves. All of the cards received were collected for a display which included a map with stickers showing the senders' locations. Cards were received from twenty-nine states and three Canadian Provinces! It is always such a memorable project!
Visit Projects by Jen to learn more about this and other online projects.