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The Nuts & Bolts of Planning and Implementing a Coding & Robotics District Initiative

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Wednesday, June 26, 9:00–10:00 am
Location: 204AB

Trudy Cohen   Douglas Orr   Matthew Schachtel   Bonnie Weinstein  
Summit Public Schools embarked on an elementary coding and robotics initiative. The evolution included developing a scope & sequence, cross-curricular curriculum, and selecting robotics hardware in collaboration. Elementary students will have a years worth of hands-on instruction progressing through drawing, block, and text-based coding languages and programming robots.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Project-, problem- and challenge-based learning
Grade level: PK-5
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration that allows the time and space to explore and experiment with digital tools.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Session Objectives
1. Present the factors that were taken into consideration, and reevaluated, while implementing a coding & robotics initiative
2. The importance of providing an environment that utilizes the design process to develop 21st century learners with skills such as problem-solving, perseverance and creativity and innovation
3. All district stakeholders must be involved, heard, and on-board to collectively develop and implement an innovative environment for students to teachers to cultivate a shared love of learning

The Technology Team will partner with the elementary Media Specialists to develop a curriculum with a scope and sequence for providing coding/robotics lessons. The evolution of this program will begin in grades 1 through 5.
In the course of one year, the elementary Media Specialists see each class approximately 40 times. In this summer’s planned curriculum rewrite, we will work with them to revise their current scope and sequence for the library-based concepts to be taught in 32 lessons. This will allow us to carve out 8 lessons for each elementary class to focus on coding/robotics lessons.
The curriculum and scope and sequence for coding/robotics will be developed by a committee composed of both the Media Specialists and the Technology Team members. It will include 8 lessons for each class in grades 1 through 5 distributed over the course of each year for a total of 40 sessions over the 5 years.
The Tech Team will provide training and ongoing support for the different tools/platforms that the media specialists will be using.
In order to limit the number of tools/platforms that the media specialists have to learn, we will do the following:
Introduce a tool/platform in one grade level and then move to the advanced applications in a future grade level - this means that grades 1 and 3, for example, might use the same tool/platform, but the older grade will learn more advanced concepts after being introduced to it in the earlier grade.
Restrict the number of tools/platforms to no more than three.

The proposed tools have been chosen to make coding more accessible for students of differing cognitive levels. At the youngest grade levels, coding is approached from a non-text-based method that allows the children to immediately explore conceptual underpinnings without the need to first learn the syntax of programming languages. For example, in the case of Ozobot Drawing activities, coding is accomplished using different color patterns that can be drawn with markers. Using sensors, the robots detect the different color patterns and execute a specific command for each pattern to complete a planned routine. As the students progress to the older grade levels, coding is accomplished using more complex block-based, drag-and-drop snippets of code. In this way the students develop a deeper understanding of the logic of coding. At the oldest grade levels, students begin to use text-based coding to create intricate programming routines. Some of the SAM Labs tools that the oldest students will utilize include light sensors, buttons, buzzers, motors, dimmers, heat sensors, pressure sensors, proximity sensors, rgb lights, sliders, tilt sensors, vibration motors, and servo motors.

Grade 1
Device: Sphero Spark+
Coding Platform: Sphero Edu Draw

Grade 2
Device: Ozobots
Coding Platform: Ozobot Drawing

Grade 3
Device: Ozobot/ Sphero Spark+
Coding Platform: Block-based Coding

Grade 4
Device: SAM Labs - Various Sensors, Motors, Lights, etc.
Coding Platform: SAM Labs Block-based Coding

Grade 5
Device:Sphero Spark+/SAM Labs - Various Sensors, Motors, Lights, etc.
Coding Platform: SAM Labs Text-based Coding


An Introduction - 15 minutes
to the presenters, and topic of session.
session objectives and background information of how we began our coding and robotics initiative will also be discussed.
Starting with the end in mind…..30 minutes
Research and Planning
What is currently in place?
Coding & Robotics
Hardware & Software
Influences on our decision making - 10
District Stakeholder Buy-in
Budget Constraints - SEF
An in depth conversation of where we are now as a district- 20
The Plan
Curriculum Writing
PD and Training
Celebrating our Successes
Where do we go from here???? Looking to the future.
Expanding to future grades
Progressing content to be more advanced as appropriate
Audience Participation - Q&A

Supporting research







More [+]


Trudy Cohen, Summit Public schools
Douglas Orr, Summit Public Schools
Matthew Schachtel, Summit Public Schools
Bonnie Weinstein, Summit Public Schools

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