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Hour of Code Inspiration: 15 Teachers Using Ozobots to Enrich Young Lives

Hour of Code, the STEAM education community’s version of Christmas, is coming up December 4 through 10. This global movement, centered around one-hour coding activities, reaches tens of millions of students. This year, Ozobot is getting involved in a number of ways, all with the aim of making this the most creative Hour of Code yet!

For starters, we’ve prepared fifteen Ozobot Hour of Code tutorials, from unplugged Color Code activities to OzoBlockly tutorials to a simulator for classrooms without our robots. Speaking of those classrooms, we’ve got a special Hour of Code Classroom Kit available and we’ve also donated $50,000 worth of kits. Register your event on the Hour of Code website, and you’ll be automatically entered to win one.

Finally, we’re gearing up for December 4 the best way we know how: with a list of a educators who inspire us with the innovative, creative ways they use Evo and Bit in the classroom. We create tons of educator guides and resources, but these fans of our adorable, award-winning bots have taken things to the next level.

Check out these 15 teachers, librarians, aids, and parents who inspire and amaze us while teaching their students.

Courtney Walker Added a Makerspace to Her Library

Courtney Walker is the upper and middle school librarian at Shorecrest Preparatory School, a K-12 school located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Shorecrest was the first independent school in the area to add a makerspace in their library. While this feat is impressive enough on its own, Ms. Walker took the space a step further by using Ozobots to prepare students for more advanced coding classes:

“While our tech and computer science teachers are delving into the complexities of the subject, librarians and subject area teachers can introduce coding in easier, entertaining, and hands-on ways to the majority of students,” Walker writes. This prepares them for higher-level courses down the road.Walker continues to treat her students like a “consumer panel,” giving the bots to different classes and age groups to see how they use them. This has created endless lesson plan ideas as students come up with new games and ways to cover material in their classes.

Lesa Wang Hosted An Ozobot Fashion Show

Lesa Wang is the K-5 STEAM Coordinator at Marymount School in New York. She recently explained to Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls how she uses Ozobot to engage third-grade students and even uses the bots to host programming fashion shows. Within her class, the students were divided into four groups:

  • The first group created costumes for the robots.
  • The next group designed the runway and the stage.
  • The third group worked on programming the bots to walk the runway.
  • The fourth group created a video documenting the whole process.

Together they built an unforgettable runway show which tapped into multiple STEAM elements during the creation process.

When asked what behavioral changes she sees in students who use Ozobots, Wang referenced the creativity and collaboration that stems from their use. She’s seen bots turned into horses, Mowgli from the Jungle Book, Harry Potter and even Elsa from Frozen. Whatever the kids want to make, they can.

Kim Mattina Tied Ozobot to the Different States of Matter

We often discuss the importance of STEM and STEAM education and using robots to get students excited about science, coding, and engineering. Kim Mattina, also known as The Tech Lady, is a perfect example of using Ozobots as a tool to foster a love of STEAM.

Mattina integrated Ozobot into the seventh grade science classroom at William Davies Middle School. The science teacher, Mrs. Zaremba, wrote a story called “A Day in the Life of Ozobot” which told the story of Mr. Oz meeting the love of his life. The story was actually a worksheet which helped students learn about the different states of matter, including the movement of molecules to form a liquid, solid, and gas. An Ozobot coded with Color Codes moved slowly in the solid state of matter, and then changed its movements to describe other ways. Ozobots use optical sensors to follow lines and read Color Codes.

This was a great way to use Ozobots to enhance a science lesson. It connects the existing science lesson plan with coding, which helps the concept stick long after the chapter is covered in class.

Gillian Madeley Shared Indigenous Legends Through Ozo-Tales

Gillian Madeley is a teacher-librarian and literacy coach in Ontario and recently shared her development of Ozo-Tales to help social studies students learn about the numerous indigenous legends of the area.

“Using Ozobots, students would summarize their legend,” Madeley described. “They would select the main character and focus on their point of view, as the Ozobot would become that character. Students would ‘act out’ the narrative structure of their chosen legend by programming their Ozobot to complete the journey, completing tasks and behaving as their selected character.”

Like the use of Ozobots and Color Codes to teach different forms of matter, this is a great way to combine STEM with reading and history lessons, modernizing instruction while keeping centuries old stories alive. Some students even dressed up their Ozobots to look like the characters they were talking about, adding a visual journey to the tale.

Jennifer Leban Reduced Paper Usage for Ozobot Activities

Jennifer Leban is a middle school tech teacher and makerspace enthusiast. She uses her social media accounts to show how her students code Ozobots in the classroom on paper, iPads, and Chromebooks. Students start out creating with basic paper instructions and expand to OzoBlockly programming as their knowledge grows. She also hosts free play days with Ozobot.

“I like to see what students can come up with using their Ozobots,” Leban says. “Some set up games, like tiny bowling pins, and others make mazes or race tracks for their Ozobot to run.”

The Tech Age Kids Team Built a LEGO Chariot

LEGO bricks and Ozobots are a natural fit. Both are incredibly flexible and can be used for a variety of ages, classes, and lessons. Elbrie de Kock and Dr. Tracy Gardner, the experts behind the blog Tech Age Kids, took this partnership to the next level when they worked with their kids to create a LEGO chariot to add to their entire LEGO Ozobot town.

The chariot was used as a solution for moving townspeople between two points. There’s a tutorial at Tech Age Kids for teachers who want to recreate this activity in the classroom. It’s a great tie-in for students learning about history or different methods of transportation across time and cultures.

 

Liz Greaser Followed the “Test and Observe” Method

“My first rule of thumb with any new material is that it should first gain a child’s attention,” Greaser writes. “If you have to explain ten rules on how it works, then that might not be the best way to start. You can add those lessons in later, but begin as simply as you can.”

This lets them play with the bots and get excited about what they do so they’re more excited about the activities she has planned. Now whenever Greaser brings out the Ozobots, students are immediately engaged and curious to see what they’re going to do and learn.

Meredith Martin Gave Students Time to Be Creative

Meredith Martin at Tech for Teachers recently introduced Ozobot to her kindergarten and first-grade students. She actually received the bots as part of her Donors Choose project and they were an immediate hit with her students.

After her first try where she let students learn how Ozobots work, she blogged about her lessons so other teachers can follow in her footsteps. The two main takeaways she found include:

  • Kids want to work ahead or make up their own Color Code combinations. It allows them to get creative if there’s extra time at the end of the lesson.
  • The teachers are just as fascinated by the bots as the students!

Martin has plans to expand the lessons to her upper class students to meet New Jersey’s new guidelines for teaching programming. By following these lessons, she can create plans that engage other teachers while letting more advanced students work ahead and learn about different Ozobot functions.

Joe White Formed an Inclusive Experience With Special Needs Students

Joe White is an assistant head teacher specializing in autism and communication difficulties in in Broadstairs, England. He invested in Ozobot and says it’s the simplest gadget he has ever purchased for his school’s computing curriculum. That simplicity is ideal for students with different learning abilities and needs. More advanced students can work ahead and try OzoBlockly programming on a tablet or computer, while other students can still use the basic Ozobot functions on paper.

White created a short lesson plan that asked students to draw lines and create a path to different landmarks in the local community. He found that Ozobot helped students who struggled with motor skills, and his whole class enjoyed the whirring, movement, and lights.

 

Pana Asavavatana Boosted Motor Skills With Careful Lines

Pana Asavavatana is a K-2 IT Integration Specialist at Taipei American School in Taiwan. She uses the robots to help younger kids with their coordination and penmanship.

“Overall it really motivated students to work on their fine motor skills,” she writes. “I mean, getting a robot to do what you want it to is a great reason to be more careful when drawing!”

With Ozobot, students learn that they needed to draw straight, thick lines in order for the bots to follow a path. Students also learned to follow directions by using different Color Codes to create certain commands for their bots.

To help their writing skills, Ms. Pana has students blog about what worked, what didn’t, and what they learned. This helps them reflect on the lesson and consider how they would make improvements next time. Writing and reflecting is an additional way teachers can make Ozobot a comprehensive learning tool, not just a gadget to learn programming basics.

Jody Green Played Ozobot Golf With Students

As a teacher on special assignment in La Habra, California, Jody Green was able to introduce Ozobots to her students and come up with some exciting games for them to play.

The first was Ozobot Golf. Students are given pages with four holes on each page, a sand trap, and a water hazard. Students try to create OzoBlockly programs to get Ozobot to the holes using the fewest number of code blocks possible while avoiding the traps. Green created a “par” for each course based on the number of moves she was able to make to reach each hole. Students were awarded extra points if they could figure out easier and more efficient ways.

However, golf wasn’t the only game Green was able to create with Ozobot. She also designed Ozobot Gymnastics, a game inspired by the Olympics. This activity challenged students to get creative by creating unique “routines,” following set rules for the bots, with some of the routines put to music.

Ashley Schmidt Used Ozobot to Teach Reading

Ashley Schmidt is a second grade teacher and the author behind the Talkin Pinata Teaching blog. She created a useful guide for using Ozobot for various subjects, but her ideas for incorporating them into the reading curriculum really stand out. A few ways students improve their reading skills with Ozobots include:

  • Retelling a story with transition words (at first, then, next, etc.) and color coding Ozobot to follow the story map.
  • Asking students to create a route that puts events in the correct order.
  • Creating dialogue from the story by asking students to create a conversation path between two characters.

Students can learn everything from story development to vocabulary skills with the help of Ozobot activities. These lessons can also be used to discuss events in history for students who are trying to remember specific timelines of events. The logic of storytelling and historic events follows similar commands and if-then statements of programming.

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania have fun with Evo by Ozobot (@gshpa on Twitter)

Jennifer Hanson Turned Math Class into a Makerspace

Jennifer Hanson, director of library services at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, introduced the bots to her library during maker camp. Students ages 8–15 were invited to use both low-tech and high-tech materials to solve problems through coding.

This isn’t the first time Hanson has tapped into STEM/STEAMand found creative ways to inspire students through hands-on activities. She has regularly spoken about creating a “maker mindset” in math classes and encourages students to explore. For one class, she challenged students to determine how much paint was needed to cover the walls of the library, proving that math is used to solve real-life problems. She uses Ozobot as a tool to make the material more accessible and interesting.

Jennifer Judkins Made Coding Creative

Jennifer Judkins, the author behind the blog Teaching Forward, is the Director of Educational Technology for Lexington Public Schools. Her goal is to remove the stigma that coding is only for math-minded or left-brain students, but rather a creative outlet for anyone who wants to build something or solve a problem.

“Learning how to program isn’t about mastering computer science; it’s about breaking down problems and empowering kids to create something of their own design from scratch,” Judkins writes. “Coding is both a new literacy skill and a novel form of creative expression.”

At first, she introduced Ozobots to the middle school students for their library makerspace, but plans to bring them into the elementary schools space to get students excited about creative coding early on.

The Playful Parent Hosts an Ozobot Party

Kristy at The Playful Parent hosted a Ozobot (STEM) party with her husband, kids, and a group of students from the area. Kristy is an artist and her husband works in the science and technology field, so the combination of the two with Ozobot created fun activities for the family.

“I was worried about having too many kids at the party with only three Ozobots; however, many of the games were great for team building,” Kirsty writes. Even her very young kids, ages 2 and 4, were playing with the toys and getting excited about learning programming themselves when they’re older.

We love watching teachers get creative with Ozobot and seeing what students come up with when they’re allowed to play. You inspire us to come up with better tools to make learning more engaging in and out of the classroom.