I had been keen to explore Beebots in the classroom but never found the time. Thanks to Geoff McIver my Beebot journey has been kick started. Geoff has recently worked with me in Year 1 classes, demonstrating how to use Beebots effectively.
To prepare for Geoff’s lesson I gave the students some paper arrows and allowed time for them to play and explore. They had to make paths in straight lines from one object to another. They loved this and it was a fun way to begin our focus on coding….and although the photo at left wasn’t what I expected to see it did show creativity! We then played an online game Go George Go (PBS Kids – George) to consolidate the concept of programming a sequence of movements ‘step-by-step’ to achieve an outcome.
Geoff’s visit involved coding Beebots to navigate challenges involving shapes. This highlighted the potential for coding in Maths…Start on a blue square. Can you get to a green square without going over any circles?
After our lesson with Geoff, I designed a lesson that challenged the students to program George (from PBS Game) so that he took the longest path, then the shortest path, to get to ice-cream. The students were required to map out their ideas individually on paper, then work with a partner to test their ideas. They loved it. Some had the Beebot doing 360 degree turns to make George take longer – our debate then became – if it takes a longer time to get to the ice cream does that mean the Beebot is travelling a longer distance? Next time I would include a time challenge – Make George take 1 minute to get to the ice cream.
This week we will read Too Loud Lily by Sofie Laguna and Kerry Argent. The students will be required to recall the sequence of events and code Beebot to travel from image to image. I have kept the focus on language (First, next, third, finally). I am hoping students will soon be able to create challenges for each using Beebots and literature.
As you begin to use Beebots with young children my advice is to have someone demonstrate a lesson in your class first. The experienced Beebotters (is that a word??) have little tricks and words of wisdom that make the learning fun for all. Geoff continues to be a critical friend and an inspiration.
Finally – expect noise and don’t panic if the students code their robots to head in the opposite direction to what it should. It is all about discovering coding.