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We’ve invited the creators of Unruly Splats to hop on the blog today and tell us about a really cool and innovative product to get kids coding in the classroom. When I first saw their product I was so impressed with how it brings together coding, movement and fun! If you’re looking for ideas to bring coding the the classroom, definitely check out their innovative curriculum.
Advice From Unruly Splats: Introducing Coding to Students
As we navigate another start to a school year, many educators and parents are starting to rethink traditional schooling and what is being taught. With 67% of STEM new jobs being in computing, coding is becoming more and more of a priority for schools, educators, and parents to instill into the next generation of children. Since computer science is still a relatively new subject for K-12 schools, creating a whole new curriculum can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be!
Advice for Introducing Code to Students
Let’s dive into some advice for introducing coding to students in a low-barrier and fun way!
Learn Coding Through Gamification
When thinking about coding, you may envision students sitting in chairs and staring at their computer screens. Yet, there is more than one way to teach CS. We recommend making it a game! Gamification is a great way to incorporate technology in the classroom since it’s not only enjoyable but also beneficial for learning and student engagement.
Our Unruly Splats program combines learning to code with physically active play. Because Unruly Splats technology is adaptable to all kinds of different games, educators can use it across their curriculum from STEM subjects to PE, Music, and Art! For example, a first-grade teacher from Hawaii, Melanie Zukeran, plays Unruly Four Splats to keep student engagement high while they test out their coded game for practicing math problems.
“When their Splat turns off they have to spell a word, do some jumping jacks, or solve a math problem so we incorporate all the curriculum areas,” Melanie said.
Student-led learning is when students take charge of their own learning and work with their peers on a new lesson or activity. Technology is changing constantly and students are often quick to adapt and learn the latest tech tool. So why not let the students do the teaching? Student-led learning is a great way to introduce coding to students because they will take this new STEM concept and work together to learn something new. In addition to being a different, fun way to engage with class material, this strategy is also an effective way to actually learn. Studies show that self-teaching fosters a genuine, long-lasting understanding of concepts.
So what does this strategy look like in practice? It could mean incorporating peer feedback or partnered work into your curriculum. Fifth graders from Copperas Cove ISD in Texas participated in an activity where they taught their teachers how to code with Splats! One-fifth grader in that group even said it felt like “opposite day”. These simple flip-in roles promoted student led learning, excitement, and lowered the barrier to learning computer science for everyone!
In a recent study, researchers found that students who were physically active during instruction may have better academic performance, memory, and focus. When introducing coding to your students, think about how you can add in play! This way they will retain the information more effectively but also start associating computer science as fun and exciting to learn!
For example, South Euless Elementary students use Splats to combine coding and physical activity. To make the lesson more engaging, teachers added a competitive element. Students broke out into teams, coded the Unruly Race in Place, and then competed for the most stomps during a set amount of time.
“Students understand that they are in control when coding,” said Angela Brown, Library Media Specialist. “The ‘machine’ can only do what you tell it to do, so if something is not working, go back and check your code. The immediate feedback when their code works is so rewarding. They are having fun while learning.”
So, by now, I imagine that you are wondering what are Unruly Splats? We are glad you asked!
Splats are programmable floor buttons that students code using an iPad or Chromebook to tell Splats when to light up, make sounds, or collect points when they are stomped on. Using block-based coding, students code the rules to create games like whack-a-mole, relay races, and dance competitions.
We are passionate about making coding for kids as low-barrier and fun as possible! We offer a number of K-8 cross-curricular lesson plans, year-long teacher trainings, and an Unruly Community full of educators sharing experiences, tips, and stories.
Splats in the Classroom
When talking with our Unruly Educators, we have found that finding enough time in the day to teach CS is a roadblock for many educators. A solution we have to relieve this problem is by sprinkling coding throughout the day with cross-curricular lesson plans.
Here are a few examples of some of our lesson plans that combine coding and physical activity throughout the school day!
Math Games with Splats
We have three different math games that can be used as tools when introducing concepts like place value, addition, and word problems.
- Place Value: This is a kinesthetic way for students to learn about place value ranging from the ones place all the way to the hundred thousands!
- Adding Up: The objective of this activity is to find combinations adding up the number displayed on Splat 6. This goal number changes depending on the range set in the code.
- The Human Calculator: This activity is ideal for tracking changes in multi-step word problems! The code with answers allows students to self-check.
Technology Integration Specialist, Christine Danhoff, took advantage of these educators’ designed tools by getting her students engaged in math and coding with Splats! “Students were able to jump on Splats, touch it with their hand, and get up and move around all while doing math and they did not even realize they were doing math activities,” Christine said.
Music Games with Splats
Musical Splats combines block-based coding with music by using the MIDIScale. Using MIDI conversions, students can code their own songs using virtual Splats. Our Musical Splats Activity Pack walks students through how to do this with step-by-step activities and videos.
Cathy Truesdale, a PreK to 4th Grade Music and Performing Arts teacher at Canterbury School in Florida, is leveraging Splats to combine coding, music, and play in her hybrid and distance learning classes.
“It has been an amazing tool to help students understand the relationship(s) between music, performing arts, and technology. Students have used existing tools to create their own music and games—and have been able to share their creations with other students,” said Truesdale.
Let’s get coding!
Thanks to Unruly Splats for sharing their product with our blog. Here at Teach Your Kids Code, we love sharing innovative products and ideas that help kids get excited and engaged in coding activities. That’s why we love the Unruly Splats game!
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to bring coding to the classroom check out some of our unplugged coding activities:
Katie is mom of two rambunctious boys and a self-proclaimed super nerd. With a background in neuroscience, she is passionate about sharing her love of all things STEM with her kids. She loves to find creative ways to teach kids computer science and geek out about coding and math. You can find her blogging at Teach Your Kids Code.