Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Three Lessons to Bring Coding to the Language Arts Classroom

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYOD

Monday, June 24, 10:30–11:30 am
Location: 118A

Laura Davis   Tod Johnston   Kailey Rhodes  
Help your students get hooked on coding with this student-centered approach to learning using Sphero robots. Walk away with three free lessons for using Sphero robots in nontraditional coding settings such as the language arts classroom.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Sphero EDU app
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Computer science and computational thinking
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Language arts, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.
  • Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session
Related exhibitors: Sphero

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will be introduced to three free lessons that allow students to learn coding with Sphero in the Language Arts classroom. The coding lessons—available in PDF form and later online—are flexible in any classroom, including Language Arts. The lessons challenge students to work alongside their teacher to learn the basics of coding using block in the context of storytelling. Most importantly, the lessons take the pressure off the teacher to be a coding expert, instead inviting them to learn alongside their students in a collaborative investigation.

In the session, participants will be challenged to work in groups with the lesson of their choice and share their thinking with the group using Google Slides to facilitate an open “coding strategy” share.

In one lesson, participants explore how Sphero can tell stories—such as fairy tales—using lights, sound, and motion. Each pair or small group is given a snippet of a fairy tale to code. They get creative with lights, sounds, and movement to retell their part of the story. When students are done, the sections are put together to tell the whole story.

We will move this experiential learning towards effective classroom application, demonstrating the potential to extend in-class activities through additional lessons available on the Sphero EDU app. Participants will explore classroom-tested, practical lessons for Language Arts specifically and brainstorm easy transitions to other non-computer science courses as well. By the end of the session, participants will have three lessons in hand to bring to the Language Arts classroom to foster cross-curricular learning and enable them to be leaders of coding integration in their schools—without the pressure of being an expert in coding themselves.


1. Warm-up: Energize and engage participants with Who Are You Activity. Draw the connection between personification in Language Arts and computational thinking. (5 min.)

2. What is Sphero EDU? Introduce the block canvas through guided demonstration and compare and contrast with physical cutout blocks on paper. Give participants an opportunity to explore one or more activities in depth and consider classroom applications, use-cases and open exploration. (10 min)

3. Hands-On Programing: Participants work in pairs and small groups to choose a one of the three lessons and build code to solve the challenge provided. They add their code solution to a collaborative Google Slide deck to share their strategy with the group. The whole group reviews and discusses the different models and solutions. (35 min)

4. Applications in the Language Arts class: Discuss how to implement the now-complete Google Slide deck as a class teaching and sharing tool to motivate students and display their work with parents. (10 min)

Supporting research

1. Storytelling Alice Motivates Middle School Girls to Learn Computer Programming

2. Infographic Source Data

3. State of Computer Science Education: Policy and Information (

4. New TechKids Report: EU Code Week 2015 Teacher Training Pilot Program

5. If You Build Teachers, Will Students Come? The Role of Teachers in Broadening Computer Science Learning for Urban Youth by Joanna Goode

More [+]


Laura Davis, Clarity Innovations
Tod Johnston, Independent
Kailey Rhodes, Northwest Academy

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