The arrival of term 3 has brought with it an anticipation of excitement, wonder and surprisingly dread. All of this has been the result of the imminent arrival of new technology at our school. Excitement because I am keen to get moving on showing off the technology in the classrooms and seeing the interactivity amongst our student. Wonder due to the nature of how these new technologies will change the way in which ICT is used in the classroom (how many of you are still only seeing ICT used as publishing of final written pieces). Finally, dread because it is dawning on me that I am responsible for the implementation of thousands of dollars worth of technology into our school and classrooms. I guess I’m scared of failing my colleagues and students.
Sure we’ve had the professional learning to enhance our skills in this new tech, but 4 days of immersive and intense PL can leave a person a little drained and confused by the amount of information they have just taken in. During our PL, we looked at a range of new technologies, the pedagogy behind it, strategic planning of the Digital Technologies Curriculum, Coding, and finally Project Based Learning and its use in integration across the curriculum. Whew!!! I slept well after the last day.
Finally the time is almost here where we get to unbox our new ‘toys’ (in between teaching) and hopefully they don’t sit dormant in the storeroom until someone remembers they are there once a year. The challenge is always…..HOW CAN I GET STAFF TO WANT TO BE INVOLVED?
Like most schools, getting staff to change the way they do things is often the biggest challenge. My focus has been to look at ways to make it easy to fit into their current teaching and learning program and provide as much support as they need (or want). I have begun developing lesson plans and have continually run out of hours PL sessions for my staff if they wished to attend.
Hopefully the arrival of our new tech provides a stimulus to the staff and also students to embrace the Digital Technologies Curriculum and allow some more of our students to experience 21st Century learning practices.
With all the talk about coding being the new idea that should be included into the curriculum, I decided to look into coding apps for iPads. Our school has recently begun its iPad journey by purchasing iPads for some select classes, and I thought this would be a great way to get get students thinking about coding. We are also using code.org with our current Windows based devices but the basic premise is the same (I love using code.org with the students but that discussion is for another post).
In finding appropriate Apps for the age groups I was looking for (primary school), I did a few internet searches and also asked for help on Facebook via TeachMeetWA. Members of this page gave me a great range of Apps suitable for our school and already being used in other schools. After looking at all options for coding Apps, I managed to find 5 Apps suitable for our students.
Please note these are not the only Apps available, but my choice of 5 for ease of use and suitability to our school.
A great introductory App to teach the order and sequencing of codes. This App doesn’t rush your learning and lets you get the hang of new commands before adding new ones. A simple App that requires users to move a small robot around the screen to light all the squares required. It allows for touch controls as opposed to touch and drag which can cause issues with finger control. I really like this one!
A.L.E.X is a simple instructional coding game allowing students to play set levels and/or create their own levels to try. The use of the fairly cool (and a bit daggy) robot as the character will appeal to many students. He may also appeal to teachers as he busts out an 80’s robot dance move every so often). It’s Sci-Fi look and feel will immerse students in the game. It is simple to understand and use with basic controls allowing a range of year levels to achieve success. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating my own levels and I think students will enjoy it.
ScratchJr is a more comprehensive coding and programming App that allows students to create their own movies using varying characters and backgrounds. A little complicated to begin with but once the students understand the processes of creating these characters and backgrounds the outcome are very broad. The video tutorial available on the App in brilliant and helps with the understanding of the possibilities in this App.
Cargo-Bot is a simple instructional coding system that requires the user to program a crane to pick up and move crates. The instructions and also the coding principles can be a little difficult to understand but well worth the effort to persevere with. A great visual layout that has been created on an iPad, although this would be best suited to older students.
The Foos Coding 5+
A character based programming game with simple instructions in an arcade style layout. Easy to understand step-by-step instructions when new codes are introduced although it can become a little confusing as the levels get harder. A great coding option for students who like puzzle games.
I hope you have found this post informative and useful to help decide if a coding app is suitable for your school.