Coding wand and Quick Guide of Wand Motions by Kano and 2 of the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay.
The idea of using the Kano Coding Wands for instruction came to me in November when I first saw the advertising for the wands. I thought to myself, "I need this in my life." as it combined who of my favorite things -- coding and Harry Potter. I know that in that way I am not all that different than many of my students. I could see their excitement about all the Harry Potter books featured in last year's book fair, especially due to the 20th anniversary of the series, and I was excited that I may have a way to connect what they are learning in technology to what they learn and love about reading.
Coding Wizards at Work
Connections to Standards
Once the wands were on their way, I started teaching and applying understanding of the legal, social, and ethical issues related to technology use. Students understood that none of this equipment and the related code could be created without legally using the published material. We learned about what copyright is and how we can use copyrighted materials with fair use laws. I knew that using the wands' technology would "support understanding, inquiry, problem solving, communication and/or collaboration."
Standard 1.0 - Technology Systems
We had a great time learning about the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) inside the wands, which is the hardware that allows the wand to communicate with the computers via Bluetooth. We learned that there were different sensors for gravity (gyroscope), speed (accelerometer) and direction (magnetometer). We also recognized that these PCBs replace the magic at the heart of the wood wands used by the characters. Students enjoyed watching the actors James and Oliver Phelps, who played Fred and George Weasely in the movies, demonstrate the wand pieces and putting it together.
Coding Wand's Printed Circuit Board (PCB) diagram from the instruction manual
Standard 2.0 - Digital Citizenship
Students knew that they needed to be both safe with the equipment, but also safe and ethical with their user information. They worked cooperatively with their partners to:
Assemble Wands properly
Take care when holding/using the Wands
Collaborate sharing the use of the computer and wand
Collaborate to create a username that reflects both students without divulging personal information or using copyrighted information. We discussed why some celebrities, such as the Phelps twins, will use their real names on sites, but that students need to keep their personal information private.
Standard 3.0 - Technology for Learning and Collaboration
Use of the Kano software and coding wands allowed students to reinforce skills they knew for creating block code and recognizing Java script, including changing variables and creating loops, to understanding how the different hardware allowed them to code with movement, which they had never done. For students where the Harry Potter content was not new, they were able to see how the wand motions described in the books were translated to code, and for students who were unfamiliar, they would be able to look in the books or watch the movies and see their actions are the same as the characters. Collaboration was used with the technology throughout the process, where students worked together with partners, one coding and one moving the wand, or by using code posted by other users even outside of the classroom in an online collaborative community, changing the variables and adding events to make them their own.
How I set up the wands and the groups
First I created a survey to gauge student interest and experience with the literature and movies. I also found out which students were in each instrument group, as instrumentalists often have lessons during Technology. I did this so that students would not be left alone if their partner was missing. Experience and interest in the novels was helpful for putting students together who would be similarly engaged.
Once I had students in mostly groups of 2, sometimes 3, I gave students the opportunity to choose a name for their character that uses proper netiquette, and each group was given a safe password. As per county guidelines, I made myself the adult of record for each account. This will allow me to monitor their activity. Parents also had the opportunity to opt out of having their child use this program, as it is a supplemental and not required digital tool.
Our Principal's Secretary was able to negotiate with an Amazon seller a total of 26 wands for the exact amount of our grant. From Kano themselves, we would have been able to get maybe 22. The education representative at Kano was very supportive of us getting our Coding Wands in whatever manner gave us the most for our money. He has have offered Kano's assistance if needed, though I haven't needed it yet.
Prior to this, I did have to go through several steps between being awarded the MSET grant and actually being able to procure the Wands, approve the software, and have the software installed. I hope my colleagues will learn from my experience so this process can go smoother for others in the future. For example, maybe it would be possible to inform the school system of the grant proposal prior to submitting it to MSET. The three months between being awarded the grant and actually having all the materials and software in place created lots of stress.
Students will complete challenges and create their own coded spells.
Students will write blogs and create podcasts about their experiences
Students will rate whether or not using the Coding Wands increased their interest in the books and/or helped them read the text differently.