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Dash and Dot and Map Skills, Too!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Original article by Nancy Penchev.

The Dilemma

At my school, we are facing a dilemma that I am sure many others are facing. There is just not enough time in the day to teach Math, Reading, Social Studies, Science, Writing, and special areas and add coding and robotics as a separate curriculum. At Scheck Hillel, we are also implementing a blended learning program in our lower school. So how could we bring in these 21st century skills and not expand the time of our school day? Integration!

Our 3rd grade students begin the year reviewing map vocabulary and skills in their Social Studies class. So this became our jump off for the robotics introduction. Our essential questions were *How do map skills help humans navigate in the world?

How can map skills be used to help non-humans (robots) navigate in the world?

We created a 5 week unit of instruction that included a pre-test, whole group instruction, small group centers, and a hands-on assessment centered around robotics programming.

Week 1 began the unit with a pre-test to determine what students knew about our vocabulary terms and map making. Our whole group instruction following the test focused on creating a grid map. Students were given a grid and requirements for their map. Students had to include: 3 types of homes, 2 places of business, 1 park, 1 school, 1 body of water, roads/paths to connect each of the places, a map key, and a compass rose.

The next two weeks we had four centers that students rotated through, two centers in each 45 minute class period. In one center, students worked with the 3rd grade teacher reviewing their vocabulary words and playing a memory matching game with the words and definitions. Another center was making a city using a table top grid and toy buildings. After setting up their city, students created a direction code to move from one location to another. The third center was a technology center, in which students watched an EdPuzzle video about map skills and answered questions. The final center was reviewing robot code, inputting code, and practicing with Dash.

In the fourth and fifth week of the unit, students completed the assessment for the unit by working in teams to create their own city, write directions from one location to another on their map, code the directions, and have Dash follow their code from one location to the other. Students had to problem solve, debug, and work out their code until they accomplished their goal. When there was a problem in the code, we celebrated because that gave us a learning opportunity. In the end all students were successful, by working together and never giving up.

Want more ideas for integrating Robots/Coding in the curriculum?

Robots and ELA

  • Code the arc and retell the story
  • Code story elements
  • Code the sequence of events
  • Code the characters and their quotes or story
  • Code matching vocabulary and definitions

Robots and Math

  • Code shapes in geometry
  • Code angles
  • Code greater than / less than
  • Code to move to the correct answers
  • Code standard and nonstandard measurements

Robots and Social Studies

  • Code a timeline
  • Code a character (person from history)
  • Code with map skills

Robots and Science

  • Code a Space mission
  • Code solids, liquids, and gases
  • Code animal behaviors

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