How many kids are in a group
How was the Matatalab robot(s) used?
An inspired way to engage students with coding is to use characters and have them code a story. Our class used one common character whose name in French is Vert Ver (=Green Worm). Students wrote a simple story in a notebook; created a route that would be coded to match their story; recited their story while the Matatabot runs through the code and the teacher records the scene. As you can see, there are many layers to working through this challenge. We had a mini-lesson about the elements of a story, ie. a story has a beginning, middle, end; it has at least one character and it has at least one setting (where and when the story takes place). After writing a very short story (3-5 sentences) with my help, students used a sticky note to write the title of their story and any places mentioned in their story like ‘at school’. When it was their turn to code their story, students placed their sticky notes on the board and compiled the coding tiles. A few students got their code - instructions- correct on their first attempt but most students had to change their code and try again to read while the Matatabot moved along. After that, I recorded the student reading their story as the Matatabot travelled from beginning to end.
What skills did it develop?
Students told me that they had never written a story before and had never coded a story either. They learned to pause and think as they placed the coding tiles to follow the path they chose. Many saw that they had to review their plan and come back to code after they had done a bit more thinking. Students learned that a bit of struggle for is okay and that success can be tricky but it is definitely possible.
What worked best and what was challenging?
Students were very motivated to write once we had made a character together and they had seen my demonstration. That students could write only to recite their story and not to have all of the spelling mistakes corrected is also a motivator: let students read their own creative writing. It was good to have short stories because we quickly saw that the tiles could only allow so much movement on the board, ie. only four of each blue tile limited the length of a story.
How did students respond?
Students were thrilled to see the code work as planned. They clapped for each other’s work.
Share your comments upon the class using Matatalab
How can we explore having more tiles in the kit? We all feel that more tiles would be helpful. We will continue to code and explore the functions of the other tiles.