There are all sorts of wonderful holiday traditions out there, but if there’s one constant amongst everyone’s unique ways of celebrating, it’s reading. Reading books about holiday traditions remains a great family and school activity. We love any opportunity to tie literature in with learning to code, and it appears the upcoming Thanksgiving feast is no exception!
Please join us in congratulating our newest Creators of the Month, Allison Steven and Brittany Korstanje! They took inspiration for their creation from the book The Great Turkey Race. Take a closer look at their Thanksgiving-themed project below, and get inspired to do some in STEAM learning, cram turkey your mouth, and treat your brain to some holiday reading.
Tell us about yourselves! What are your jobs and what inspired you both to choose your careers?
Allison: I am the Early Childhood Educator in one of two Full-Day Kindergarten programs at Kinnwood Central Public School. I am currently filling in for an ECE that is on maternity leave, so I will end my contract in January. My career choice happened when I did a co-op placement during Grade 12 at the school I am now teaching at. I loved the feeling of being in a classroom and both teaching plus learning with the students so much it led me to the ECE program.
Brittany: I have really enjoyed being a part of the Kinnwood school community for the past 4 years! During high school and university, I loved volunteering in my mother’s classroom. For as long as I can remember, I always noticed how Kindergarten students have a spark in their eye when they are creating, investigating, and using their imagination. They always seem to appreciate the little things in life, which I have now learned are not so little after all! I quickly worked towards getting my Kindergarten Specialist because I had such a passion for working with this age group. Currently, Alli and I enjoy approaching different learning concepts in a fun and interactive way based on the interests of our students.
How did you two think of creating the project?
Allison: Brittany had shown me the book The Great Turkey Race, where within the story three turkeys race one another to be the “Great Thanksgiving Turkey”. She loves technology and thought of using the Ozobots as little turkeys for the students to [Color Code] a race for. We read the book as a class and then with their Reading Buddies they each got to create a track for their Turkey to race on!
— Alli Steven (@alli_steven) October 4, 2018
What was the most challenging part about making it, and how did you and the kids overcome the obstacle?
Allison: I would say that the most challenging part was making sure that the students used thick enough lines for Ozobot to race on, but not too thick or Ozobot would get confused. Before we coded we showed the students and their Reading Buddies how thick the line should be, they were all very patient with their marker lines but we had back up white paper just in case.
Brittany: Students had to challenge their thinking when deciding what [Color Code] would make their turkey go faster to win the race (i.e. using a Turbo code). They also had to test and reassess their codes. Students were tempted to give their turkey a boost if a line was too thin or a code sent the turkey off on Line Jump. They worked together in order not to skew the results.
Can you share with us an example of how your project combined creativity and coding?
Allison and Brittany: The students had free will of how their turkeys would move, with the one rule being they had to start at the Start Line and finish at the Finish Line. They could make obstacles for their competitor turkey bots to go around and not necessarily make their turkeys use a straight line but use the different codes for speed and tricks along the way.
How else do you use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in everyday life?
Allison: We have an “I Wonder…” table in our classroom where the students can write down or even record with an iPad something they are curious about. We use iPads everyday in our classroom and have even taught the students to use SeeSaw (our parent connect app), Scratch Jr. (a coding app), and ChatterPix (an app that makes their pictures talk). We have taught the students how to use the green screen, located in our library, and the app that goes along with it. The students have been very interested in Stop Motion making as well so we have been using that to show our math and language work.
Brittany: Being part of our LKDSB Vanguard Team has not only changed our integration of STEAM activities into our classroom as well as our pedagogical documentation practices, but it has also enhanced the learning and engagement of our students. We know we need to evolve with our students and provide the tools, resources and environment necessary to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. Coding through Ozobots and other STEAM tools such as Scratch Jr., Chatterpix, SeeSaw documentation, loose parts to build with, and more have inspired our students to be deeper thinkers on a regular basis. Whatever inquiry our students are learning about, they often integrate these coding tools in order to demonstrate their understanding of the world around them. We also provide STEAM provocations and activities on a daily basis to extend their thinking.
What are your favorite Color Codes and did students use them in their race?
Allison: The Tornado code is my personal favourite! I believe one of the children heard me say this as they made their turkey do a spin around an object on their race track.
Brittany: Students quickly figured out the Nitro boost and Turbo codes will help Ozobot move the fastest in order to win the race, however they love the classic Tornado and Zig Zag codes to observe Ozobot move in new fascinating ways.
In addition to having a blast with Ozobots, what do you want kids who may recreate your project to take away from it?
Allison and Brittany: That coding can be a lot of fun and that it’s not all about straight lines! Use curves and squiggles! The more fun lines and codes the more fun Ozobot will have! We want educators and anyone who has access to an Ozobot to elaborate on the work that we have created with our class. They can turn Ozobot into anything they want to!
How did you first hear about Ozobot and start learning to code?
Allison: Brittany taught me about coding! I had seen the Ozobots in the school but had never used them in my teaching. Brittany taught me about Ozobots and how to use the codes with them.
Brittany: I learned about coding with Ozobots when I went to a LKDSB workshop on coding. We had a STEAM playground session and the teachers were all drawn to the Ozobots. We loved that it incorporated both fine motor and STEAM integration.
Besides creating with code, what is your favorite hobby or interest to geek out about in your free time?
Allison: My geeky trait is movie/TV trivia! I love the behind the scenes clips and how they actually film certain shots as well.
Brittany: I love photography and taking portraits of my little babe and her baby friends!
Have you told any other stories with your bots? Any other creations we should check out?
Allison: Our first inquiry this year was about Hot Air Balloons. The students drew a map of the world and made Ozobot an Air Balloon so he would fly all over the world! They are currently creating maps of the community for Ozobot to go trick or treating at. They are also learning about cave animals and turned Ozobot into a troglobite traveling through caves and dodging stalactites and stalagmites.
Brittany: In the past students made their Ozobot travel the different levels of the rainforest to reach The Rainforest Cafe. They also brought Ozobots over to the retirement home to share the coding fun with the residents at North Lambton Lodge.
— Brittany (@mrskorstanje) October 26, 2018
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 2 Ways to Code:
For Educators and Students: