Learning Theories/Adult Learning Theories

Overview

Malcolm Knowles might well be considered the founding father of adult learning. He contrasted the “concept of andragogy, meaning “the art and science of helping adults learn,”…with pedagogy, the art and science of helping children learn” (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 272). Knowles’ original studies and writings arose from the assumption that there are significant, identifiable differences between adult learners and learners under the age of eighteen. Primarily, the differences, according to Knowles, relate to an adult learner being more self-directing, having a repertoire of experience, and being internally motivated to learn subject matter that can be applied immediately – learning that is especially “closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role” (p. 272).

Andragogy

Knowles (1968) popularized this European concept over thirty years ago. Andragogy, (andr – ‘man’), contrasted with pedagogy, means “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Knowles, 1980, p. 43). Knowles labeled andragogy as an emerging technology which facilitates the development and implementation of learning activities for adults. This emerging technology is based on five andragogical assumptions of the adult learner:

  1. Self-Concept: As a person matures, he or she moves from dependency to self-directness.
  2. Experience: Adults draw upon their experiences to aid their learning.
  3. Readiness: The learning readiness of adults is closely related to the assumption of new social roles.
  4. Orientation: As a person learns new knowledge, he or she wants to apply it immediately in problem solving.
  5. Motivation (Later added): As a person matures, he or she receives their motivation to learn from internal factors.

These five assumptions dovetail with the thoughts and theories of others. Merriam and Caffarella (1999) point to three keys to transformational learning: experience, critical reflection and development. The aspect of experience (the second assumption to andragogy) seems like an important consideration in creating an effective learning opportunity for adults. The learning opportunity needs to be relevant and applicable to a person’s set of experiences. Argote, McEvily, and Reagans (2003) point to experience as an important factor in one’s ability to create, retain and transfer knowledge.

Critical reflection is the second key to transformational learning and part of andragogy’s self-directed learning. Reflection/think time is yet another essential principle to creating an effective learning experience for adults. Garvin (1993) shares the importance of fostering an environment that is conducive to learning including time for reflection and analysis. Adult learners need time to contemplate the ramifications of the learning experience to their experience and responsibilities.

The third key to transformational learning is development (corresponding to the third assumption of andragogy). Merriam and Caffarella state that “the ability to think critically, which is mandatory to effecting a transformation, is itself developmental” (p. 330). If development is the outcome of transformational learning, then an effective adult learning opportunity needs to be created that will take personal development into consideration

Andragogy assumes the following about the design of learning:

  1. Adults have the need to know why they are learning something.
  2. Adults learn through doing.
  3. Adults are problem-solvers.
  4. Adults learn best when the subject is of immediate use.

According to Knowles ( 1984, Appendix D) an example used to apply the principles to personal computer training:

  1. Explain why certain skills are taught (functions, commands).
  2. Task oriented instead of memorizing. Tasks should be common tasks.
  3. Take diversity into play. Acknowledge different learning levels and experience.
  4. Allow adults to learn on their own and from their mistakes. ( M.Knowles)

Some would contend that Knowles only introduced a theory of teaching rather than a theory of adult learning. In commenting on this thought, Merriam and Caffarella (1999) referring to Hartree suggest, “that it is not clear whether Knowles had presented a theory of learning or a theory of teaching, whether adult learning was different from child learning, and whether there was a theory at all-perhaps these were just principles of good practice” (p. 273). It is further contended that Knowles did not establish a proven theory, rather he introduced a “set of well-grounded principles of good practice” (Brookfirle, 1986, p. 98).

“Within companies, instructional methods are designed for improving adult learners’ knowledge and skills. It is important to distinguish the unique attributes of adult learners so as to be better able to incorporate the principles of adult learning in the design of instruction” (Yi, 2005, p. 34). Within this context, adult learning is aimed at not only improving individual knowledge and skill, but ultimately it is the goal to improve the organizational performance by transfer of learning directly to work applications. Yi suggest three methods to foster learning in adult organizations: Problem-Based Learning which seeks to increase problem-solving and critical thinking skills; Cooperative Learning, which builds communication and interpersonal skills; and Situated Learning, which targets specific technical skills that can be directly related to the field of work (Yi, 2005). Each of these methods support the assumptions about how adults learn; specifically they are more self-directed, have a need for direct application to their work, and are able to contribute more to collaborative learning through their experience.

Experiential learning

Experiential Learning Theory emphasizes the role that true experiences play in the learning process. It is this emphasis that distinguishes itself from other learning theories. Cognitive learning theories emphasize cognition over affect and behavioral learning theories deny any role for subjective experience in the learning process.

Scholars in the field of education have two contrasting views when it comes to the concept of experiential learning. The first view defines experiential learning as a sort of learning which enables students to apply newly acquired knowledge in a relevant setting. The relevant setting can be a sponsored institution of learning with trainers, instructors, teachers, or professors to guide the lesson. The other school of thought defines experiential learning as “education that occurs as a direct participation in the events of life” (Houle, 1980, p. 221). Thus, learning is not achieved in a formal setting, but in the practice of reflection of daily experiences. Kolb furthers the second definition of experiential learning by developing a model which details learning process through experiences. Kolb and Fry’s (1975) experiential learning model is a continuous spiral process which consists of four basic elements:

  1. Concrete experience
  2. Observation and reflection
  3. Forming abstract concepts
  4. Testing in new situations

Immediate or concrete experiences are the basis for observation and reflections. These reflections are assimilated and distilled into abstract concepts from which new implications for action can be drawn (Kolb & Fry).

According to Kolb and Fry (1975), the adult learner can enter the process at any one of the elements. The adult learner moves to the next step once he or she processes their experience in the previous step.

Anxiety and the Adult Learner

An interview with psychologist Edgar Schein, Coutu suggests that more often than not, organizations fail at transformational learning. They rarely fundamentally change the behaviors within the organization. Schein dismisses the notion that learning is fun, especially for adults. He equates adult learning within organizations with that of the brainwashing techniques he observed while studying prisoners of the Korean War (Coutu, 2002). Organizations must find a method to deal with the anxiety adults experience when they are forced to “unlearn” what they know and learn something new (Coutu, 2002, p. 6). Schein discusses two kinds of anxiety: learning anxiety and survival anxiety. It is in this manner that he draws the parallel to brainwashing; that is “learning will only happen when survival anxiety is greater than learning anxiety” (Coutu, 2002, p. 6). Each of these anxieties could be managed, for example learning can be constructed in a “safe” environment where the consequences of failure are minimal. Survival anxiety can obviously be increased by threatening job loss, a lack of security, or recognizing competitive elements of the market.

Case studies & workplace examples

The adult learning experience presented itself in all of its glory and contradictions through a curriculum review taking place in a school setting. The objective was to examine the current school curriculum and evaluate it for strengths and weaknesses. The purpose for this review was to both align the curriculum with current practice and augment the curriculum to enhance student learning. Interestingly, the teachers involved in this process seemed to exhibit all the qualities of adult learners mentioned previously: learning through projects, applying self-direction to the process, challenging the process for purpose, and some approached the process with much anxiety. Engaging in the process illustrated that adult learning is individual and there were as many approaches to adult learning as there were people involved in the process.

Article Sources and Contributors

Learning Theories/Adult Learning Theories Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?oldid=2060870 Contributors: Abigor, Fishpi, Hagindaz, Panic2k4, Rdunican, Recent Runes, Red4tribe, 29 anonymous edits

License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported http:/ / creativecommons. org/ licenses/ by-sa/ 3. 0/

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MRH3CoZFj2RFrAvDNHOFao11xd_tgyahca-QZbRwmww/copy

Spring Break Curriculum Training

Well, what can I say. I began the week thinking “why did I sign up up for these trainings?” Yes, I was excited but also exhausted from this last stretch of teaching.  After it was all said and done I am so thankful these trainings were offered. I can’t imagine myself showing up the week before the kiddos come back and saying to myself, “Yes, I got this. I can teach two brand new curriculums and use the online portions of these programs.” If you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly encourage you to do so.  

The trainings were fun and in depth on how and what we will be teaching.  In both trainings we learned how to use all of the materials, plan our day to day, how it aligns with the standards, differentiated teaching strategies and materials, center ideas galore and how to bring these kids to grade level and beyond.

Benchmark is our Brand new Language arts curriculum.  At first glance it can be a little frightening. There’s a ton of material and it’s really overwhelming looking at all of it. But after a two day training I’m eager to start using the materials and planning for next year.  Benchmark uses repeated exposure to skills and strategies, along with multiple opportunities to practice all standards. It has an equal balance of Whole Group (Model/Access Grade Level Complexity) and Small Group (Differentiated Practice/Application) Literacy Instruction. All units are aligned across the grade levels giving the school a central theme for learning. Benchmark includes Shared readings, Mentor Read Alouds, Decodable Readers, an online component for teachers and students, grammar and spelling, vocabulary, phonics, reading and writing, Big Books with complex texts, text close reads, center activities, and reader’s theater.  Every day students are exposed to at least three different text. You name it, this program probably has it. It’s a complete curriculum that spirals throughout the year so that if a student doesn’t fully understand a concept it will be visited several times throughout the year. And the best part of Benchmark for k-2 teachers: there is no more ripping out and stapling the decodable readers. They are printed, stapled, and sorted for the teachers. Also, weekly and unit assessments can be completed on paper but can also be taken online with immediate results for the teacher to collect that much needed data. Benchmark’s online portion is amazing!

The official growth assessments for the Language Arts test will be taken over by iReady. iReady is our new online assessment program for both Math and Language Arts giving us the traditional Map scores. It will be the online component that will do the data tracking portion very similar to map while also giving differentiated lessons to the students for the math program. This will be taking over ST Math. It will create a year long program specific to the student which will fill missing gaps and bring them up to grade level and beyond. If a student is more than a grade level or two behind it will either give them a one year path to proficiency or a stretch path that is a multi year plan to to bring students to proficiency. For an awesome website check out i-Ready Central. It’s basically the Pinterest of i-Ready; it’s free and filled with a ton of information.

Our new Math Curriculum is Ready Classroom. Not to be confused with i-Ready.  Ready classroom is a comprehensive curriculum that includes all daily lessons, enrichment activities, centers, tools and videos for instruction. As well as the prerequisite for instruction.  All materials can be found really easily using the online portal. This curriculum is not designed to be just a pen and paper curriculum, it is designed for exploration and discussion. Students will learn to do math through whole group and small group discussion. They will learn how to problem solve in multiple ways.  A lot of what we will be doing is discussion. The print outs will primarily be used as checking for understanding and independent work. As far as lesson planning, this is a teacher heavy lesson planning curriculum. This is not a curriculum that can be pulled out and used as a script. These need to be planned out and planned so that the students can receive the full benefit of this program.  

So if you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly recommend you do so. Yes, you get paid and no, it is not mandatory.  But if you want to have a strong understand for this curriculum you should get on Go sign me up and sign up for one of these awesome trainings.  

Spanish Commercials on Campus

By Adriana Cruces

Giving students body cameras that will allow them to record real life conversations on campus and display their real live conversations during assemblies and parent meetings can assist assessment and growth. What do you think: survival skills or applied pedagogy?

My Students

Students in my course are first time Spanish-speaking learners who would otherwise not use their learned language or  never have spoken other languages in their home environments. Students in my course are learning how to be bilingual or multilingual and are learning how to become world travelers, however, at times these skills are only available in their classrooms. Students are exposed to multiple cultural activities which assist them in embracing their learning and are encouraged to seek and find these learned skills within their communities. Students seek outside the classroom opportunities to ensure they are exposed to real life conversations which are most of the time limited within their neighborhoods. Students are transitioning to an all technological classroom and as such require extra support and extra resources in technology. Bridging the gap between home and school, and facing the limited resources available for students it is imperative as an educator to develop opportunities in which students feel excited, have fun, and use the language they are learning and that will allow them to speak with 80% of the worlds bilingual population.

As passionate educators it is believed that students must be exposed and experience first hand using their new learned skills in order to own their Spanish language and to speak with real people outside of the learning environment to be able to apply skills learned in class in a more personalized and real life situations. Currently, schools do not offer language labs, nor provide opportunities to walk around campus creating conversations, thus creating video commercials and guiding students to interview others on campus not only will ensure students master their skills but also strengthen their fear for public speaking.

Are our schools ready to welcome technology so as to allow students to use body cameras to develop activities on campus that would expose students to critically think and use the classroom curriculum in real life scenarios!?… Aren’t we as adults seeking to learn skills that can quickly be applied in the real world?… Haven’t we limited resources for students in such way that hinders their ability to expand their creativity!  Why not adopt tools that all humans love and need to use: body cameras bridge the gap and closes the lack of real life conversations in a semi controlled environment. Do you agree?

Going Digital with AVID

Part II

Whether you are an AVID elective teacher or not, using AVID teaching strategies in the classroom can have many benefits.  Incorporating digital elements in combination with AVID is a recipe for success and can easily be implemented using one’s curriculum!     

I have been teaching the AVID elective at the middle school level for over five years now and have come to learn that the AVID curriculum contains a plethora of good teaching practices.  Traditionally speaking, some of the more popular strategies found in lessons that focus on the Critical Reading Process, such as using Cornell Notes, Marking the Text and Writing in the Margins were developed with the intention of using paper and pencil.  Now, with digital technology being so abundantly available in schools, it’s time to start integrating the two.      

In my last blog, Going Digital w/AVID Part I, I went over some various ways to annotate online text using Google Docs and Kami’s online PDF editing software.  This particular blog will focus on digitizing an AVID One-Pager.      

AVID One-Pager

w/Google Drawing

A One-Pager seems self-explanatory.  For the most part, it is. Students will use one page of paper to reflect on a given piece of literary work or text.  A One-Pager is a great way to have students complete in lieu of a boring formal assessment or a long, drawn-out writing task.  A One-Pager should include the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Images
  • Include a meaningful quote
  • Related Vocabulary
  • Personal statement (i.e. I believe…, or I feel…)  
  • Costa’s leveled questions
  • Border, which reflects the main idea or theme

Looking at the rubric below may be helpful:  

Like with almost anything in education, things can be adapted.  You know your own students best so feel free to add and/or change anything within the One-Pager that you see fit.  I know that some teachers request that their students use specific colors which represent a deeper meaning behind the text…obviously, students should know about color symbolism in order for this to relate.  Or, you might swap out Costa’s questions for Bloom’s.

The following video showcases a teacher using the paper version but also presents one way of communicating guidelines and instructions to students.  This teacher finishes the lesson by having his students present their work using a Gallery Walk (which can also be achieved using laptops set up on a table).     

One-Pager AVID Strategy  

When thinking of digitizing this assignment I turned to none other than Google Drawing.  It seemed like the best fit as it’s not only free software in which all SUSD students have access to, but it also has the necessary elements needed to accomplish the task at hand.  Students can use word art, add text boxes, insert images and GIFs and use the paint bucket to make a border color POP!

Here is the template that I use with my students.  Make a copy and add it to your Google Drive for future purposes.  AVID One-Pager Link

Once students are able to make a copy of their own (an easy way to accomplish this is to use Google Classroom to distribute copies to each student) then the magic happens.  Students will see that they can do more online than using a piece of paper. No more messy markers or crumbling crayons. Those students who are afraid of being judged by their artwork can now feel comforted that they can insert any image they want using an internet search.  I’ve seen many students use GIFs to enhance their borders or even Bitmoji images to create a personalized statement. Using a digital version of the One-Pager offers more opportunity and creativity for students to achieve opposed to limiting them to a paper version.

Here are some students samples:

Students were given the option to complete a section review for Social Studies or create a digital One-Pager.

This One-Pager was completed by a 7th-grade ELD student following the completion of our class reading an informational article about the effects of lying.  

A Wrinkle in Time was a book that my after-school tutoring group read.  Students had the option of creating a One-Pager instead of writing a chapter review or summary.
The options are endless with AVID One-Pagers in regards to how they can be used.  I hope that my examples and background using them with my own students have convinced you to try them out yourself.   

Using Google Tour Builder in the Classroom

Whenever I have mentioned using Google Tour Builder in the classroom, I almost always get one of three responses; I love that program, what is it, or (after I explain what it is) my kids wouldn’t be able to use it because I am not “tech savvy” enough to teach them. To those of you using and loving the program, I say congratulations! Teachers who have never heard of the program, this is the blog for you! For the naysayers, I say read to the end and click on the links to see what students can create when given the opportunity. I would like to also state for the record, I am by no means the Google Tour Builder Guru, but I do love to learn alongside my students and hope you will too after reading this.

So what is Tour Builder? Tour Builder uses Google Earth technology and allows you to add a sequence of locations on a map that users can click through like they’re going on a tour. You can upload up to 25 photos and YouTube videos to go along with each stop on the tour. You can also add a description and links to additional resources for each location that you add. When users view the Tour, they will click “next” on the tour to be taken to the next point on the map.

How can I use it in my classroom? I’m so glad you asked! Here are five examples of authentic student-created projects.

Image of a student Google tour

My Future University


My dream Vacation



Italy


Ieoh Ming Pei Biography

Students were told to research how to create a tour after a very short lesson from me on the basics. They were given a project  description and rubric and went at it! Tour Builder would be great in social studies classes, ELA classes, science, math…the sky’s the limit!  Don’t worry, the kids will help guide you through it!

Technology Integration Matrix (Part I)

TIM

Characteristics of the Learning Environment

Previously, I discussed what TPaCK is and how it should affect our teaching. I delineated the acronym stands for Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge in my previous post. You can read my blog post here. Twenty or thirty years ago, long before the explosion of technology in education, teachers worked at perfecting their craft or pedagogy along with their mastery of subject area content knowledge. TPaCK gives educators an overview of technology integration in relation to content and pedagogical knowledge. What it does NOT do is delineate how educators are to achieve TPaCK or what it should ‘look like.’ In writing about TPaCK, I frequently found another acronym that intrigued me…SAMR, or Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.

While examining SAMR, I discovered the Technology Integration Matrix or TIM! I like the simplicity of the SAMR acronym, but it is not as detailed as the Technology Integration Matrix. This two-part blog post will explain the Technology Integration Matrix. It is a five-by-five matrix, the columns comprising levels of technology integration and the rows comprising the characteristics of the learning environment. Since, we can all relate to the learning environment, and it is probably the easiest, I will examine the Characteristics of the Learning Environment first. However, let me provide a little background.

Diagram of levels of technology integration.The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) was developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at the University of Central Florida. It was established in 1982, working for over 30 years with educators in integrating technology into curriculum. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology developed the matrix as a guide for the convoluted task of evaluating technology integration within classrooms. The matrix affords common language for comprehensive pedagogical technology integration by all actors within the learning environment as well as their ancillaries. This theoretical framework is based on the constructivist theory of learning being an active, constructive and thereby continually evolving process, as well as an educator’s best practices. The matrix was originally established between 2003-2006, with a second version completed in 2010-2011. In this most current version the descriptions of the matrix were revised and even expanded with video references in Language, Science, Math and Social Sciences. Even background, what is the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM)?

As mentioned earlier it is a five-by-five matrix delineating the Levels of Technology Integration and the Characteristics of the Learning Environment. In this blog post I am going to focus on the Characteristics of the Learning Environment. Each row of the TIM constitutes a characteristic of the learning environment. Every level of the learning environment then ascends through increasing levels of technology integration. These five Characteristics of the Learning Environment are: Active Learning, Collaborative Learning, Constructive Learning, Authentic Learning and Goal-directed Learning. Let’s investigate each level in isolationcharacteristics_intro_title

Active Learning occurs when students are actively engaged in using technology as a tool rather than passively receiving information from the technology (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, 2018). This characteristic then climbs through five different levels of integration: Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion and Transformation. In Active Entry students are passively receiving information, similar to watching a video. Next is the Active Adoption Level in which students are using tools but in a conventional and procedural manner, much like writing an essay on Google Docs or Microsoft Word. This is followed by the Active Adaptation Level whereby students still have a conventional use of tool, but now there is some choice and exploration by students. This is similar to making a presentation, regardless of the modality. Near the top is the Active Infusion Level where students conduct regular, self-directed use and choice of tools. Finally, the Active Transformation Level, occurs when students use technology tools extensively in an unconventional way. This might be similar to students doing a green screen video as an on-site news reporter.

Collaborative Learning occurs when students use technology tools to collaborate with others rather than working individually at all times (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, 2018). At the Entry level, Collaborative Entry, students use tools individually. No collaboration among classmates occurs. During Collaborative Adoption, students are using technology tools in a conventional way, but collaboratively, such as a classmate editing a document. Collaborative Adaptation occurs when there is student choice and exploration collaboratively. An example might be, students deciding which application to utilize and then working together to complete it. Collaborative Infusion is regular use and choice of tools when collaborating. Finally, Collaborative Transformation is working together with peers as well as outside resources in a manner not possible without technology. For example, participating in a book study with another class within their district OR someplace else in the United States.

Constructive Learning commences when students use technology in connecting new information with their own information rather than just passively receiving the information. During Constructive Entry information is just delivered to students, and nothing more. Constructive Adoption is when technology use is guided for conventional knowledge building. This would similar to watching a video. Constructive Adaptation is similar to Constructive Adoption, but now technology use by students is independent and there is a little student choice and exploration. Constructive Infusion is where the change really occurs. During Infusion students are regularly using technology of their choice to maintain, acquire and build  knowledge. Finally in Constructive Transformation is where the change really occurs. Here students build knowledge extensively through an unconventional use of technology.

The easiest way to explain Authentic Learning is relevance. This is when students use technology tools to interact with learning activities in the world outside the classroom instructional setting. A prime example of this would be Problem Based Learning or PBL. Authentic Entry level learning is unrelated to the world outside the classroom door. It is important to note students may find this boring. Change begins to take place in the Adoption Level where there is guided use of technology tool and activities with some relevance to the outside world. Authentic Adaptation displays students choice and exploration using technology independently in some way connected to their lives. This might be observed whens students write to the mayor about the homeless problem. Authentic Infusion Learning is when students now take adaptation to a new lever, using technology on a regular basis in a meaningful activity. Last, but not least, Authentic Transformational Learning in which students use technology in a local or global context innovatively for higher order thinking and learning.

Finally, is Goal-Directed Learning where students use their technology tools to set goals, plan activities, monitor their progress and then evaluate the results NOT complete assignments with no type of reflection. Goal-Directed at the Entry Level directions are given and the instructor performs step-by-step task monitoring. Goal-Directed Adoption is the normal policy and procedural use of tools to plan and monitor goals. This might be similar to using Google calendar for setting due dates and see what is coming up. Goal-Directed Adaptation, occurs when students have some choice and exploration and use tools in a purposeful way to meet their goals. This may be like using Google hangouts to converse with team members. A flexible and integrated use of technology tools to plan and monitor progress towards goals is visible in Goal-Directed Infusion Learning. Lastly, students using technology extensively to plan as well as monitor progress is within Goal-Directed Transformational Level.

Each one of the five Characteristics of a Learning Environment progresses through each Level of Technology Integration. As mentioned briefly earlier these are the Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion and Transformation Levels. In Part II, I will delineate each of the Levels and how they relate to each of the Characteristics. Below I have included a diagram of Technology Integration Matrix for your viewing. Earlier I had review TPaCK and what it was as well as SAMR. As you can now see TPaCK is a concept between Technology, Content and Pedagogy. SAMR is brief explanation of technology and how to go about integrating it. The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is a comprehensive and detailed matrix of technology integration and the learning environments. We will dig deeper into the matrix next time.

All images and content used with the permission of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida.

Coding for Kindergarteners? Absolutely!

By Maridee Stanley

America is short on computer programmers. Currently, tech companies are recruiting programmers from India, not by choice but by necessity. Don’t we want our own SUSD students to get these high paying tech jobs so we can finally break generational poverty? This can happen if we start our students coding early. How early? High school? Middle school? Intermediate grades? Kindergarten is not too soon. For the past 5 years, my kinders at Kennedy Elementary have successfully learned the basics of block programming and began to think of themselves as the programmers and tech entrepreneurs of the future. Students have fun and the parents love it! “But,” you ask, “ I’m not a programmer. How can I teach coding?” Don’t worry. Coding isn’t as hard as you think. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Trust me on this.code1

All the instructional work is done for us by Code.org, Tynker, PLTW, or Google, and the beginning lessons are designed for pre-readers. Why wouldn’t any teacher want to do this? You have several options to get your students started on coding. The best known is Code.org, developer of Hour of Code. If your school has Project Lead the Way you have the PLTW computer science module. Tynker has some free content here  or you can sign up for free teacher account for an easy K lesson here. Google will send teachers a free kit to be used with their online material, click here. Even if you supplement with other programs, Code.org is indispensable as it has the most resources and an easy-to-navigate website. From there you can watch videos (Course A for age 4-7 ), visit the educator section and create your account, peruse lesson plans, or print out offline material .

If you and your colleagues want an enjoyable Saturday, attend a Code.org Computer Science Fundamentals PD, learn some tricks and pick up some swag. Or, take the online PD .

Students working with robots.

Students work with blue-bots, robots that the kids can program!

If you don’t have time for all this, simply take your class straight to an Hour of Code classic, Angry Birds, and start coding! I recommend starting offline. I use Code.org’s “Move It” for PE and PLTW as a center activity. Ozobots are a popular way to teach the concept of programming. But my students’ favorite offline activity is the Bee-Bot, a small robot that is programmed with directional arrows on its back. Kinders doing Code.org offline coding for P.E. Tip: Don’t try this on a windy day. Using the directional cards that come with BeeBots and Blue-Bots, kindergarteners write a line of code. Using direction keys, students program BeeBots and Blue-Bots to spell CVC words or order numbers. Bee-Bot and BlueBot programming was a big hit at STEAM Night and Literacy Night at Kennedy. Even some parents got hooked!

Image of student and laptop.

“Look, Ma, I’m programming!”

After the offline warm-ups, students should do Code.org’s Course A followed by Angry Birds and Minecraft on Hour of Code. Some may progress on to Star Wars or Moana, although you may have to tell students the objective …get scrap metal in Star Was and fish in Moana. I don’t recommend Frozen for kinders as this requires knowledge of angles. Many kinders begin to have difficulty when they get to loops, but with patience, persistence and careful counting they can overcome difficulties. Remind students that “fail” means first attempt in learning something awesome.

Coding a Minecraft game is a good incentive to finish ST Math and is an alternative for students who have completed work early. If you have never coded, try some super simple kindergarten block coding on the following Google Doodle celebrating 50 years of children’s coding. https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-50-years-of-kids-coding And please, get your students coding. You might inspire the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.