I. General Information
School Name: Nakusp Elementary
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members: Sheri Boswell: firstname.lastname@example.org, Megan Martin: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Martin Meganfirstname.lastname@example.org
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Areas Addressed:
- Applied Design, skills & Technology
- Language Arts – Literacy
- Language Arts – Oral Language
- Mathematics / Numeracy
- Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
- Experiential learning
- Growth mindset
- Inquiry-based learning
- Social and emotional learning
- STEM / STEAM
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Will STEM/Coding experiences reinforce student engagement in early literacy/math skills?
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: We noticed that students enjoy hands-on learning. What if we brought literacy into hands-on learning in the form of early coding skills?
Focus: We were wondering if working in smaller groups will engage more students in literacy/math activities while they’re actively engaged in stem/coding. We noticed that coding is not something being actively pursued in early primary and would like to expose our students earlier to coding/stem.
Hunch: Often students are not exposed to coding until intermediate ages. With such a focus in society around STEM, we thought an earlier exposure would be beneficial. Many students have seen robots and were interested in what it was.
New Professional Learning:
- We will be reading some beginner coding books: Teach Your Kids to Code: A Parent-Friendly Guide and STEM Starters for Kids Coding Activity Book.
- We will start off with learning to design coding papers and move on to using Coding Critters, Botley the Coding Robot, Spheros, Osmo Coding kit.
- We will be receiving training from a local professional in the field of coding.
Taking Action: We began by teaching students how to code on paper using directional arrows to solve a simple maze. As students became comfortable, we expanded to more challenging mazes. Once students understood how to code a path on paper, we introduced the students to using a Botley robot. They planned out their path using arrow cards and then entered the code into the robot. We let students play around with these robots for a few sessions before introducing small challenges such as reaching a target. How many arrows would it take to reach the target? How far would the robot travel for each arrow entered? We brought out measuring tools and students created their own measuring tools. We found students were communicating more and sharing their thinking with each other. Near the end of the year, we wanted to really track how students were doing, so we paired them up and divided the groups evenly between both teachers to track each of their progress and set new goals. The more we paired students of equal ability, the more advancements they made in their personal growth and we could provide immediate feedback to their questions. Everyone was fully engaged.
Checking: We found it challenging as we could only meet on Mondays. This often fell on a holiday or professional development day. In future, I would plan to meet twice a week or avoid meeting on a Monday and Friday. With more time, we felt we could have advanced to other forms of robots and coding. We have set goals to continue working with these students in grade 1, to continue building their understanding of coding. Students were given the freedom and guidance to really shine and tackle challenges at their own pace.
Reflections/Advice: We plan to continue collaborating around coding with future Kindergarten classes. There is also a hope to continue building the skills with our group as they move on to grade 1. I would suggest other schools try to have two sessions a week to keep the momentum going a little more. Many students have gone home talking about coding, and their families are now involved and encouraging this interest.