Educators Alicia and Kate Introduce Coding Express


Hi, my name is Alicia Carrol and I’m an educator
in the Boston Public School system. And I am Kate Latham and I am a teacher in
Burlington, MA. Um, so this is Coding Express, LEGO Education’s
newest release. Um, it is geared for early childhood students. It’s kind of the start of the continuum of
coding. So, how it works, we have the train, um, this
bottom black piece is kind of the focal point of the set. In the bottom of it, it has a sensor, a motor,
and a speaker. This sensor picks up these action bricks along
the track, and um, each color triggers a different action from the train itself. Um, my students in particular have been really
um excited. First of all that it was a train and that
there was an immediate connection with trains and an interest in trains. So, um, from there it was as Kate was saying
um, looking at the coding bars and wanting to know ‘well, how do they work? what goes on with these bars that are in the tracks’? And they wanted to just play around and explore
to figure some of that out. Um, they also were excited about looking at
the cards here, the action cards to build different scenes. Um, especially one around the forest because
we’ve done a lot of work around forest and reading fairytales and a lot of those things
were in the forest. So, they had lots of ideas about that. Yeah, and so all it takes is one little nudge
and the Coding Express is off on its way. Um, you’ll see each action brick triggers
like you said a different action. It will flash its lights, it will stop to
gas-up and pickup passengers, it will honk, you can hear music and sounds and then red
is stopping. You see the tree over the tracks and the train
knows to stop there. So this set really allows the students to
come up with all sort of scenarios. A tree on the tracks, some construction, a
picnic, um needing to refuel and you know as a teacher you’re able to put this out in
front of them and just see what they do with it. Um, it very naturally encourages problem solving,
collaborative thinking, communication skills. Um, you know, the students might not start
with this red action brick here. Um, they may have just a white brick there. And if so, the train is going to crash right
into the tree so the next time around they need to figure out which brick they can put
there so that it stops in time. Um, and so, this is kind of the basic function
of this set. Um, but in true LEGO Education form it takes
care of many more needs in the classroom um then just this. So the set transforms um and links up with
an app that you can use right now on iOS and Android um and that app allows you to turn this
little motor into a caterpillar, and to study the emotions of a caterpillar and talk about
some social emotional learning. Um, and for the caterpillar after it sneezes
helping it cheer up when its sad. Um, it also allows you to study some early
numeracy skills, counting I know you were really wow’d by that. Yeah, and also think measurement standard
and non-standard measurement as well. And then also connecting back to the social
and emotional learning that teachers are teaching in the classroom so that it’s a natural fit
um, for students. And also, with the collaborative work where
kids are learning how to take turns, um, to show empathy, all of those other 21st century
skills are important, um, starting at this age. All of this is here for them. It’s limitless learning. And so what’s really great about this is that
as with all other LEGO Education sets, um, it’s accompanied by a Teacher Guide that us
and some other teachers helped to create, um, it links it all back to the standards
for you and makes it very easy to execute in your classroom. I know when I first opened it I was a little
intimidated, um, cause I don’t know much about coding. Um, but this made it very accessible, um,
for not only my students but also for me which was great. Um, And I also think the other piece of this is
once students um are comfortable in using this it would be a nice piece to add the family
to that. So the kids could then be teachers to their
parents. So that they are learning from their kids
and then the parents can say, “Oh, this is why this works. This is what my son or my daughter is doing
in school. I see the connection to learning.” Yeah, and once you kind of make your way through
that teacher guide and the lessons, you get this amazing opportunity um, with a classroom
full of students who understand these basic concepts of coding, and they can just run
with it. Um, and the things that our kids have been
able to come up with are pretty incredible. Watching the problem solving, the collaboration
that naturally happens, um, not every classroom material that you have in early childhood,
you know, has that built in. But, with a LEGO set, you put it out on the
table in front of them and you know the engagement is there. It is built in. And one of the things that I really appreciated
was, I felt was so sophisticated for young children was this algorithmic thinking. So, like cause and effect. Well this happens, well when this happens
then it causes this to happen and then I have more questions. And then those questions lead me into other
questions. So the learning continues and it builds. So, that’s what I noticed with my students. And my students who are non-verbal communicators
it was a way for them to engage with the curriculum even if it was to point to different pictures
here and the action cards and be able to communicate that way. Or my students where English is not their
first language, and building up that vocabulary for the students. So maybe they could say the train in their
mother tongue, but they’re learning that word train in English. So that was very helpful. The visuals that come with the posters that
definitely promote um numeracy too, um, learning the different uh action codes and the
colors and what they represent, but you know, also being able to put words up there for
kids to learn to read. So there’s that whole literacy connection
as well. And I think what I loved when we used this
set is that when I would step away, um, I saw you know certain moments where in their
group play they would take on these leadership roles and almost mimic what they had heard
me doing in the lesson plans and do it with each other to encourage each other to problem
solve. Um, that was really amazing. And also the way that they supported each
other. You know, even if they didn’t agree with that
idea, they, you could see where they were willing to work that out and be supportive
so, I was able to watch that too. So we really love Coding Express and we know
that you will too. Yes, Coding Express.

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