What's Next?

Wow, it's been a while! This has been a busy year of learning and growth for both my students and me. I have a lot of ideas I want to share in the upcoming weeks, but first I have some big news! I will be moving to a new magnet school next year that focuses on coding throughout the elementary grades. This move will also include a (small) grade level jump to Kindergarten. I am excited and nervous, but mostly excited for these changes.

I had been a Pre K teacher at my former school for three years and, though I loved my work and my students, it felt like the right time for a change to focus more on coding in the classroom. I am looking forward to challenging myself and seeing how everything works in a new school. My new PLC will have a shared interest in coding integration and I think this will offer me opportunities for growth. I will also be participating in a lot of professional development this summer to get ready (mostly related to technology and balanced literacy).

What does this mean for Shoelace Coding? My focus will continue to be on early childhood, but I plan to include more content that relates to the Common Core State Standards and connecting subject areas. Play is still very important to me - I have been tinkering with creating my own coding games to incorporate The 5 Attributes into Kindergarten literacy instruction, so look out for that this summer. There will also be updates to some of my old products and (hopefully!) a new blog layout.

I am looking forward to sharing this adventure with you! If there is anything you have been searching for/wondering about while trying to integrate technology into your early childhood classroom, please leave a comment below.

Let Them Experiment

It's the end of October, and we're really just starting a deep dive into the Bee Bots. If you're anything like teacher-me you have to keep reminding yourself, "Slow down. Let them be little. Let them play." Would I love it if we were already using the Bee Bots to sequence stories and learn about counting on? Sure, but what do my kids love?

They want to experiment! They want to watch the Bee Bot's lights go on and off. They want to try the Bee Bot from different starting points (not just the carefully designed teacher starting point... I should have known better on that one). They want to run the Bee Bots into one another to see what happens. They want to lick the Bee Bot (yes, apparently this is a five senses exploration of robots).

When asked how I start teaching coding, I would say that the very, very beginning is not a teacher-led process. With the Bee Bots, with ScratchJr, or with whatever medium you're using to introduce your young students to coding, it has to begin with play. I do my best to model the basics for my students so that they don't get frustrated, but for their first experience I am there as an observer and questioner. I repeat to myself many times over, "Sit on your hands. It is not your turn," and I take notes of what they are doing so that I can teach some next steps during a later lesson.

So today my students played. I learned a lot about my students' abilities to communicate with each other, solve problems, work as teams, and persist. And I held off on "doing the teaching" until I had to sanitize a sad Bee Bot (which I'm sure did not taste good, but I don't have the four-year-old bravery to try that particular experiment).

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