School is a place to learn subject-matter content, but for many of our students, it is equally rich with formative social experiences and memorable rites of passage. In a virtual learning environment, we need to adjust and find new ways to meet these social and emotional needs and honor our students. Our hosts this week, Ty Stevenson and Paul Beckermann, will share creative ideas for celebrating your students’ academic achievements remotely. They will also meet with Rena Clark to learn more about how she makes learning to code and computer science fun for her students with MakeCode.
Rena Clark is a National Board Certified Teacher who is a Digital Learning Coach in the Renton School District. She is continuing to build on the great work she’s done around incorporating principles of computer science (CS) into elementary classrooms, integrating STEM, expanding opportunities for cross-curricular learning, and engaging students in exploring and creating as modes for deepening learning. In addition, Rena is a Code.org CS Fundamentals Facilitator.
Kids love to play and create. The great thing about MakeCode is that it allows kids, teachers, and caregivers the opportunity to play and create, no matter their level of experience with computer science—whether it’s their first time or if they have done it a ton. …This is my favorite idea, allowing students to learn through play.
Rena Clark, Digital Learning Coach, Renton School District, WA
These resources and strategies were discussed during the Livecast and may be useful to you when teaching virtually.
Recognize Students and Celebrate Together
Sometimes, we simply need to celebrate our classroom or school community. We want students to feel like they are part of something special and to feel a bond with their classmates. In a virtual classroom, this can happen through special events, through routines, and by integrating community building into your learning activities. Consider these examples for your classroom.
- Publish a virtual arts magazine of student writing, visual art, music, etc., with Google Sites.
- Use Padlet to create and publish a virtual classroom bulletin board of student work.
Learn to Code With MakeCode
- Create a coin flipping program to simulate a real coin toss. Students have the option to manipulate the code to create a customized game of their own. You can run your coin flipping program on the MakeCode micro:bit simulator or a physical micro:bit.
- Have your students create their own video games instead of just playing them. Students will plan, code, test, and create a simple game where one sprite tries to catch another and earn as many points as possible before the time runs out.