Thursday, November 17, 2016

Careers and Coding

This fall, Mrs. LoBianco's fifth grade FACS classes worked through a very different type of career unit.  Mrs. LoBianco was looking for ways to introduce students to career options, computer coding, and the 21st-Century Skills needed for today's careers.  The result was a project which included career research and presentations created through use of code.

Students used approved resources in order to compile information about three careers that were of personal interest.  This research included education needed to enter the career, compensation, and facts about what happens while on the job.

An example of a completed career research graphic organizer.

Once students completed their research, they would then be using computer coding and application of 21st-Century Skills in order to present their findings.  Mrs. LoBianco's students were previously introduced to these concepts during a STEM career exploration day in the library involving use of the Kodable app.  This project would take these concepts a step further and require that students use computer coding in order to present their newly-gained career knowledge.

Scratch Jr., an iPad app, was to be used for students to present their career research.  Scratch Jr. allows students to create their own interactive stories through the use of block coding.  Mr. Maeder, Pioneer's technology integrator, visited the library in order to give students a tutorial on how to use Scratch Jr.  Students quickly picked up on how to use the coding blocks to create commands.

Scratch Jr. introduced students to block coding.

Students were then challenged to present their career research in the form of a story using Scratch Jr.  As required by the project rubric, students needed to include information about all three careers, utilize a variety of coding concepts, and exhibit 21st-Century Skills during the project.  These skills included problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.  With their research in hand, students worked hard to put their information into the form of a Scratch Jr. story.

Students used their research and coding concepts to create their finished products.

The block coding features allow students to be creative when displaying their research.

A difficulty that students were encountering was that Scratch Jr. was a little too fun!  This may not sound like a problem, but students needed to be reminded that the purpose of the project was to present research, and not necessarily to have perfect backgrounds or color combinations.  As we worked through the project, the focus became more clear and students were eager to complete their projects.

When the last day of the project came, students were instructed to fill out a project reflection sheet prior to sharing their projects out with a small group.  The reflection sheet required students to think about their own strengths that they utilized in order to be successful with this activity.  Students commented on what went well, what could be improved, and even included information on the 21st-Century Skills they used during the phases of this project.  Here are some of the reflections from the conclusion of the unit:

Sharing the career project after lots of hard work!

The students made many unique coding decisions when it came to presenting their career research.  The examples below show the wide range of projects received at the end of this unit.  The creativity displayed was amazing, but please excuse my poor recording quality!



After the project was over, Mrs. LoBianco and I reflected upon this project.  The computer coding skills displayed were definitely wonderful!  Students enjoyed using Scratch Jr. for their projects and came up with really creative ways to display their information.  In the future, we will be focusing more closely on spelling and the accuracy of the research information recorded.  If these areas are addressed, the projects will be even better next time!  Thank you to Mr. Maeder for all of his help with this project. 

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