We’ve seen how creating mystery stories can teach STEAM, how programming can learn from literature, and how writing literature is like writing code. We love seeing language arts work with with science and technology, especially in this back-to-school season where the more you learn in a single lesson, the better!
Join us in congratulating our newest Creator of the Month, Mary Ledford, and check out her work in her school’s library below. As an ISTE Award Winner among other stunning qualifications, she embodies the combination of creativity and coding, with a particular focus on literature and powering student engagement in libraries!
Tell us about yourself! Where do you work and what inspired you to choose your career?
I have been an elementary classroom teacher for 20 years, 18 of those years with Saline Area Schools. During this time, I have enjoyed teaching PreK, 2nd, 4th and 5th grades. This year I have left the classroom to take on a new challenge in the library at Harvest Elementary. While it has been a big change from having 25 students to 500 students, I wouldn’t change a thing! I love using literature as a springboard for teaching technology skills, STEM, STEAM, and Makerspace projects.
How did you think of creating the project?
I actually had a whole different lesson in mind, not the one we are showcasing here! My original lesson was designed to take students through the story elements of a book (setting, problem, solution, etc.), put the elements on a map (much like sketchnoting), and have the Ozobot travel through each phase of the book. It would allow the students to retell the story in a creative way. However, reading the book Bats at the Library gave me a whole new idea as I was reading it.
Being the new librarian, I wanted my space to reflect my vision of using literature as the foundation to many of the activities and projects we would be doing. This included moving many of the shelves and furniture. As I was reading our story, I found that I was pointing out the similarities or differences between the book and our library. I knew when it came time to find books, they wouldn’t remember all that I had shared. Being a classroom teacher, I knew mapping skills was something the teachers had to hit in their social studies curriculum, so I improvised.
Students had to recreate the library with the following areas: Everybody Fiction section, Chapter or Series Fiction section, Non-Fiction section, a technology area, and a whole group area. Students could add more to their library but they still had to have these basic areas. The Ozobot had to start at the door, hit every section, and end at the circulation desk to check out its books!
What was the most challenging part about making it, and how did you overcome the obstacle?
The most challenging part was time. Collaboration, creativity, coding, and decision-making all take time. The lesson was done with 2nd and 3rd grades. I held onto the maps and let them finish the following week they visited. Later, I used them for the Kindergarteners and 1st graders, who really enjoyed watching the Ozobot travel. The look on their faces when they unexpectedly saw how the trail was coded to make the Ozobot move in a variety of ways was so fun. They now have an example of how to use and code the Ozobot on a smaller scale.
How else do you use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in everyday life?
I have always been a “think outside of the box” person. I am honored to work in a district that encourages their staff to be creative with the learning standards. I am always revamping my lessons to incorporate more STEAM and STEM concepts because everyday life presents us with challenges and some of the best solutions come from thinking outside the box. For example, I shared with my 2nd grade students that I wanted a garden but my backyard did not have a lot of room for plants. I asked them, “How can I plant a garden with a small space?” Having to teach a science unit on plants, students were excited to try out their ideas of growing plants vertically. Some plants succeeded and others didn’t do well. The learning process through STEM, I feel, was much more valuable for my students.
In addition to having a blast with Ozobots, what do you want kids who may recreate your project to take away from it?
I want my students to be successful at skills that don’t necessarily come from a teaching manual; such as design thinking, working together, and problem solving.
Is there a challenge you’d like to issue to the Ozobot community to take your work and do something new based upon your template?
I’d love to see students recreate a historical timeline that has layers of events and is not necessarily sequential but maybe [shows events happen] simultaneously at some points. For example, World War I and II for older students or the quest for statehood for younger students.
How did you first hear about Ozobot and start learning to code?
I had taught an after school coding program with CS First, so coding is near and dear to my heart. While speaking at the FETC conference in Orlando, I saw the Ozobot booth in the Expo Center. I could not wait to have them in my (then) classroom! My mind was racing with all of the possibilities of ways to incorporate them in my instruction.
Besides creating with code, what is your favorite hobby or interest to geek out about in your free time?
I love anything edtech related. I also love a challenge. I am thankful that my district gives me the freedom to create ideas, lessons, and projects using edtech in new and innovative ways. I get so excited to see some of ideas comes to fruition and enhance student learning.
Have you told any other stories with your bots? Any other videos we should check out?
Last year, my students had a STEM challenge based on a mini-novel I read to the class called My Father’s Dragon. Students had to design a way for the main character to cross an expanse of water. Most students chose to design a bridge. They had to test it using an Ozobot Bit. See their ideas and testing here.
Thank you to Mary, for inspiring creativity & coding in her library! Follow Mary on Twitter to see more of her Ozobot creations. And don’t forget…
Coding is Creative!
Tech skills alone don’t spur big ideas—creative visions do. That’s why education at home and in the classroom should span science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (think STEAM, not STEM). Whether you see yourself as a future artist, astronaut, or entrepreneur, our goal at Ozobot is to kick start your creativity and coding skills with playtime that strengthens your whole mind.
To learn more, explore Ozobot’s two ways to code:
For Educators and Students: