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Integrating Coding and Robotics Into the K-5 Curriculum

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Sunday, June 23, 12:00–1:00 pm
Location: 126AB

Lisa Wilbanks  
Discover ideas for taking students' basic understanding of coding and applying it to the K-5 curriculum. You'll learn how to use Scratch, Sphero, Dot & Dash, Raspberry Pi and MakeyMakey to engage your students in learning and sharing their knowledge of core content.

Audience: Teachers, Principals/head teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Library/media
Grade level: PK-5
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
Related exhibitors: Makey Makey , Sphero , Ozobot , Wonder Workshop

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will understand how to take their students' basic understanding of coding and apply it to their own projects that support the K-5 curriculum.

For example, our fourth graders program RoboRobo robots to travel on a replica of the streets of New York in the 1700’s that they create with butcher paper and construction paper. This project is completed after they read the novel, Sophia’s War, and study the American Revolution. The robot is programmed to not only travel the streets, but to avoid obstacles that are mentioned in the text and are related to actual events of the war.

Our fifth graders use Scratch to apply their knowledge of coordinate planes to create specific designs by writing a program to draw a shape using specific points on the coordinate grid that is set as the background. Second graders also use Scratch to program an animated scene where they interview a historical figure they study as a part of their social studies standards. Third graders use Scratch to program an interactive tour of the regions and habitats of Georgia.

Students in kindergarten and first grade apply their map skills to program Dash robots to give a tour of our school using a large floor map they create with their teacher. First graders do a similar project where they program Dash to travel to and give facts about each region of Georgia using a large floor map of the state.

Our students in K-5 will also use various robots to reenact scenes from books they read independently or during guided reading. They plan scenes, scripts, and costumes for the robots and then program them to act out scenes. Some robots even allow the students to record their voices onto the robot.

Students also use programming and tools like Raspberry Pi to create inventions as a part of a novel engineering project where they identify a problem in a book and then design a solution that would help the character(s) solve the problem.

Overall, there are many ways in which we can help our students move beyond and apply their knowledge of robotics and programming to the curriculum. My goal is for participants to leave with a wide variety of ideas they can implement right away using everything from free tools to robots they may have or would like to purchase in the future.


Google slides will be used and participant questions will be collected throughout the presentation.

- Introduction - Why coding is important - 5 minutes.
- Free Tools available to teach students the basics of coding. - 2 minutes.
- Scratch - Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 7 minutes.
- MakeyMakey - Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 7 minutes.
- Dot and Dash - Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 7 minutes.
- Sphero - Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 7 minutes.
- RaspberryPi - Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 10 minutes.
- RoboRobo -Brief Introduction and sharing of student work as well as project ideas - 5 minutes.
- Suggestions for choosing the most appropriate devices for the task as well as how to help students to learn to make these choices - 5 minutes
- Closing and Answering Final Questions - 5 minutes

Supporting research

- Programming in the Primary Grades by Sam Patterson
- Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, -
Passion, Peers, and Play by Mitchel Resnick and Ken Robinson
- Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager

- Why Schools should Teach More Than Basic Coding -
- 6 Reasons for Coding in K-5 Classrooms -

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Lisa Wilbanks, South Jackson Elementary School

Lisa Wilbanks is the media specialist at South Jackson Elementary School in Athens, Georgia. She is currently in her 11th year of teaching and has previously taught 3rd and 4th grade. Lisa holds degrees in music, elementary education, children's literature and language arts, instructional technology, as well as school library media. She is passionate about implementing innovative ideas in the media center and consistently helps to develop essential 21st-century skills through carefully designed projects that are hands-on and engaging for her students.

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