In the field of education there is constant change. There is always something new we should be teaching or popular trends that find their way into the classroom. For me, I have always been willing to try something new as long as I understood how it would improve learning for my students. Purpose has always driven what and how I teach.
So, when it came to incorporating coding into my instruction I had not really figured out what it should look like. I understood the need to teach coding and recognized the benefits of the process. Yet, I still felt like it should not live in a silo. It should not be an island of something I teach. Then it happened, second-grade students mixed biographies, the research process, and coding together and it suddenly all made sense.
Reading a Biography:
This was a collaborative project with a second-grade teacher. She was hoping to have her students focus on reading a nonfiction book for detail. She also wanted them to learn about various nonfiction text features and how those features make reading a nonfiction book easier. We decided to focus on biographies since this is a genre that fits the second-grade curriculum and students would have a variety of choices to pick from.
To teach the research process we use the Super3 framework. Students planned who they wanted to read about by browsing the various biographies that were available. Then, they made a list of their top three choices. After deciding what to read, the students collected information about the person they had chosen. They collected the basic information, such as their birth date. They also answered higher-level thinking questions such as identifying a character trait that represented their person and the evidence to support that trait. Each student had a booklet to collect their information and record where they found their facts from.
As part of the Super3 students have to review and share their work. To do this students went back through their research and identified five facts that they felt were important to share. They used a graphic organizer to write the five facts they planned to share as well as the five images they could use to represent those facts.
Then they use Scratch Jr. to code their final project. They had to code their five facts with images to represent them. When completed students shared their work in a museum-type format. Here is a short clip from one student’s work.
What I Learned:
The students were so engaged in the entirety of project. I think because they felt a sense of ownership. Having not used the app much before this project, the students really were the leaders and we all learned together. In the end, the project became not just about reading or research or coding. It allowed everything they were learning about to be intertwined and the students gained so much more because of it.