Geometry with Scratch via @MsPhillipsHRCE #CodeBreaker

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Twitter is my PLN! Really! I have been active on Twitter since 2011 adding a seperate teacher account in 2013. I have presented to teachers on Twitter 101: How to Get Started with friend and fellow teacher @MrHennigar. I have always enjoyed sharing what is happening in my classroom and seeing what is happening in classrooms around the globe. Following instructional leaders, finding ideas, books, and other educators, has become kind of an addiction, in a good way!

So I was browsing through Twitter on Valentine’s Day, what else would I be doing, married two children not like we were celebrating. When I came across Brian’s Tweet that said, “Coding 2D shapes with @scratch in grade 1. #CodeBreaker” along with a short video.

I said to myself, “Well that’s neat, I am working on my geometry unit with my grade 3 right now.” I did what I always do when I see something that catches my eye, I screenshot it and I send myself a Twitter direct message (a tip @MrBaskwill shared with me). The next day was Friday and when I got to work I noticed the Chromebook cart was available. I decided that I could change my lesson plan and deviate from the scheduled plan. I was working on geometry after all, and this Scratch idea might just be what my grade 3s needed. I dragged the 26 Chromebooks to my classroom and decided I would do a quick little tour of Scratch with them via the LCD projector, a visual tour with them on how to code a square. I placed meter sticks on the floor in a square and asked one of my students to come up and tell me the code that would be needed to walk around the square. They easily go <move forward>, <turn right 90°>, <move forward>, <turn right 90°>… So then to challenge them a little, I placed an equilateral triangle on the floor (in the name of Papert and Brian). I wasn’t sure how this was going to go but quickly their ideas were flying. One student knew the angles inside a triangle had to add up to 180° so he did the math and knew these angles were 60°. I had a student come up and walk this on the triangle, it did not work. What were we doing wrong? Amazing how the physical act of walk and rotating allowed the students to know that they were not right. The student started turning and a student quickly yelled, “180°-60° = 120°. We need to turn 120°, the outside instead of the inside.” Done! These kids are so amazing!

February 22nd, @MrHennigar tweets out a thank you for the lesson idea as he was doing 2D geometry with his grade 5 class. I know I don’t deserve the credit but the more we share what we are doing the more chances it will be seen. I saw Brian’s post, maybe Jeff didn’t, maybe he did. I decided to share and he took the idea and made it his own with his class. I saw a response from Brian asking about perimeter, and I think “oh yeah, we are up for that challenge!” Let’s keep building and sharing.

The last week before March break we started working on perimeter. We used straws on the floor to build shapes. We drew the shapes and then recreated them on grid paper. We made several shapes with the same perimeter. We created squares, rectangles, L-shapes, T=shapes, and cross shapes. This lead up to the last day where I said we would be using scratch to show what we know. The students we super pumped. It was clear they have continued to build on what they could do and see success. This new challenge was going to be awesome. I challenged them to create 2D shapes (Ls, Ts, Xs) and after they created them, they were to use the “looks” commands to have their sprite explain what perimeter means and what the perimeter of their shapes were using the non standard unit of steps. Challenge accepted, completed, and just WOW! To think this journey began with me scrolling through Twitter. Just shows you the power of expanding your PLN beyond your school! I dare you, try it!

Erica Phillips
Vice Principal/Grade 3 Teacher at Sir Charles Tupper School
Halifax, Nova Scotia
@MsPhillipsHRCE