Monday, January 18, 2016

Kinders, KIBO's and More!


Memorial School was so lucky to have the Medfield Coalition for Public Education (MCPE) fund a KIBO Activity Center from Kinderlab Robotics last June. This center includes two KIBO robot kits, curriculum materials and two hours of Professional Development Consultation via Skype. 

After discussing how we would roll out our new robots, Dr. Bilsborough, our principal, and I decided to introduce our KIBO's at grade level meetings and to ask who might be interested in piloting this new program. To my delight, SIX classroom teachers eagerly signed on.Three of our kindergarten teachers and three of our grade 1 teachers. Perfect!

We kicked off the PD training with a Skype session with Amanda Strawhacker from Kinderlab Robotics. We had an amazing hour of learning the why's of using robots with young children and the basics of using KIBO with our students. We learned that students will be engaged as producers, creators, designers, programmers, engineers, problem solvers and communicators when using KIBO. We came away feeling excited to begin.
Here are a few of us at the Skype training - it was so interesting and engaging!

The next step was to set up times for the initial "Meet KIBO" lesson with the six classes. I met with the first two teachers to sign up after school one afternoon to plan out the lesson. We decided that we would do a whole class introduction to talk about coding, robots and to show them KIBO. We estimated the intro to take about six minutes. We would then break the class into four groups of 5-6 students. The classroom teacher and I would each take one small group at a time for the kids to have some hands-on time with KIBO and the Kindergarten classroom assistant would do another activity with the rest of the class. We planned on about 20 minutes per session and then we would switch groups. 

Luckily, we had more time to use than we had planned on because the intro took longer due to the students having so many thoughts and questions and the hands-on sessions could have gone on and on and on they were so much fun. We were also fortunate to have Dorothy Redding, our library assistant who took part in the training, to help facilitate and to take the following pics and videos.

Mrs. Teany and I introducing KIBO to her Kindergarten students.
We passed KIBO around so everyone could touch it and examine it up close and personally
Let the problem solving begin! Why wasn't KIBO moving? Ah, it needs wheels :-)
Students figuring out the programming or coding blocks.
Students putting together their first program for KIBO
The next day, Mrs. Colantoni's 1st graders met KIBO. They had their first introduction to computer science last December when we did the Hour of Code using the fabulous app ScratchJr. While Mrs. Colantoni and I were working with small groups of kids with our KIBO's, the rest of the class was using our iPads to create stories using codes in ScratchJr. Mrs. Redding supervised this activity. After about 25 minutes, we switched groups so everyone had a chance to use KIBO and ScratchJr. It was a Code-A-Palooza in the library! Sure wish I had more pics to share here, but we were all so busy we didn't have a dedicated photographer :-(
1st grade student scanning the blocks
Making hypothesis and then testing them
Just as I had written in the post about our Hour of Code, using KIBO is one of the funnest and best experiences I have ever had with kids. The excitement, the total engagement is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Our young students loved learning something new, loved the challenges they faced figuring out how KIBO works and the things they might be capable of making it do. Oh, the possibilities...! I truly cannot wait to introduce KIBO to our next four pilot classes and to see where it takes us.

Thank you MCPE, for this amazing opportunity for our students.

The Votes Are In! Mock Caldecott 2016

Memorial School had our 3rd Mock Caldecott. It's such a fun unit of study. We get to read the newest and best picture books over the course of about two months. We read the stories and examine the illustrations REALLY closely. For our Kindergarten and Grade 1 students, we are looking to see if the illustrations help to tell the story and if they are really special.

"The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children."
(from the Association of Library Service for Children website)

This past year there were so many exceptional picture books, that I increased the number of books the children considered from three to five. Even narrowing down the field to five was a challenge, so this year I invited the Memorial staff to help me choose which books to include. Here are the five finalists for our Mock Caldecott: 

Students voted when they had library class. We used a google form for our ballot:

And, the winner was...... (by a LANDSLIDE!!)

Notice the student created Mock Caldecott Medal!
I tweeted out the results of our Mock Caldecott. Can't wait to share this with our kiddos. Take a look:

For the first time ever we had a tie for our Mock Caldecott Honor Book! The silver medal goes to Waiting by Kevin Henkes (which was awarded the real Caldecott Honor Medal this year) and If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson.

Congratulations to our winners. It's so much fun to have all my classes reading and talking about the same books during this unit. We look forward to reading the picture books published during 2016 to be considered for our 2017 (!) Mock Caldecott.

Nice job Memorial students!