Integrating Coding with SpheroEdu
I love walking into a classroom with Spheros in my hands. The students, no matter what age, smile with excitement. These little ball robots have opened up so many possibilities. Students don’t fear failure because Spheros offer a level of engagement like no other. And the beauty is you can use this little robot in any lesson, in any subject, and with any age.
For me, it all started in 2015 when I asked for a Sphero to use with my after-school Environmental Club. Our thought was to use the robot to create recycling videos for our school. It was amazing how swiftly my students learned the basics of coding. Then, together with my 6th grade ELA students we brainstormed a lesson that would relate to the book we were reading. They came up with the Sphero Hero challenge. Students started with questions and ways to solve the challenges they created. Students used problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills to answer their questions. It was an amazing experience for my students, and for me. The engagement level was astounding.
I was no longer the expert in the room because coding was new to me. They relied on trial and error, and on each other. You can see that lesson in the ‘Code in Every Class’ book by Kevin Brookhouser and Ria Megnan.
Sphero in every class for any topic. Your students will be engaged and will have a deeper understanding of the content when you get them creating and thinking critically with Spheros. Check out the ideas below to get started.
14 Sphero ideas for your classroom:
1. Explorer Challenges – Elementary students can create Mayflower boats to sail across the sea. High schoolers can travel along the Silk Road to avoid the plague. Students can test their knowledge with interactive quiz games. Sphero Hero Garrett Gross put one together called the 13 Colonies Sphero Quiz.
2. BreakoutEDU – Sphero takes your BreakoutEDU activities to a whole new level. I created one where 6th graders had to solve math problems to get into the large breakout box. The large box gave them the Sphero. Students then programmed the Spheros to complete a maze that led to the smaller box to breakout.
3. Nonfiction Text Exploration – Students often struggle with understanding the concepts in the text they are reading. Coding something that relates to the text will deepen their understanding. Sphero Hero Leah LaCrosse did this in her 8th grade science class by having students create a device for cleaning up garbage either in the water or in the sand. To foster understanding she used books and articles about recycling with her students. Students then coded the robot through their challenges.
4. Character Traits – Sphero Hero, Megan Lowe’s class studied character traits with Sphero. Her students used block coding and the draw function to create code based on the characters in their books.
5. Growth Mindset – Teach your students about the growth mindset by combining great picture books with coding. For example, “The OK Book” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal talks about what the main character is ‘ok’ with. Students can write growth mindset books based on their Sphero coding adventures.
6. Physics Lessons – Students in Sphero Hero Lauren Marrone’s physics class use Sphero for all parts of physics by analyzing vectors, force, motion, and momentum. Sphero Hero Nick Palczak created “What’s Your Function” with Sphero to challenge his students.
7. Current Events – No matter what is happening in the world, you can incorporate Sphero into the lessons. For example, while studying the Olympics, students competed in their own Sphero Olympics. Sphero Hero Josh Stumpenhorst’s (@stumpteacher) class created 3D printed bobsleds for the Olympics.
8. Science Exploration – Travel to Mars in this creative activity. Sphero Hero Julie Willcott (@WillcottJulie) combined it with the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Check out the activity portion of the SpheroEDU app for even more science ideas.
9. Creative Arts – Painting with Spheros is a fun way to engage your students in creative projects. While studying “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan, my 6th graders Sphero painted shields. Sphero Hero Peter Abt (@pabt65) explains how to paint with Sphero on his blog Teaching with The iPad.
11. Math Calculations – Sphero Hero Subash Chandar (@elsubash) uses Sphero in his algebra course. Students complete tasks with the Sphero, record their data and complete their calculations.
12. Mapping Activities – These activities combine geography, math, and culture. Students work on their critical thinking and collaboration skills. Students in my 5th-grade class designed dream road trips across the United States. They used Sphero along with Keynote and Buncee to create presentations of their data.
13. Games – Doing a review for a test? Have students use Garrett’s Multiple Choice Game to quiz your students.
14. Learn Languages – You can use Sphero to not only learn the language of coding. Check out this community created color game with the Spheros.
Looking for more ideas? Check out the activity section of the SpheroEDU app. The community of educators and Sphero are always adding activities and ideas. Another great place to find lesson ideas has been Twitter. The @SpheroEdu community, and our group of Sphero Heroes, post lessons, videos, and ideas. You can use Sphero in every class for any topic. These ideas are just the beginning. Your students will be engaged and will have a deeper understanding of the content when you get them creating and thinking critically with Spheros.
Laurie Guyon is an Integration Specialist for Schuylerville Central Schools in New York. She is a Common Sense Educator, Google Educator, Apple Teacher, Buncee Ambassador, Seesaw Ambassador, Nearpod Educator and PioNear, Flipgrid Ambassador, Sphero Hero, EdTechTeam Teacher Leader and Blogger, Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator, Amazon Inspire Innovator, BreakoutEDU Authorized Trainer, Recap Pioneer, Osmo Ambassador, Screencastify Master Screencaster, and a member of the NYSCATE Social Media Team. Laurie was inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame for NYSCATE in 2017. She has presented at NERIC TechADay, NYSCATE, LIT, Apple Conference, Google Summits, and NYSMSA. She has taught workshops at Skidmore College on integrating technology in literacy and teaches classes with the Greater Capital District Teacher Center. Laurie is also currently enrolled in the SUNY Plattsburgh’s School Building Leader CAS program.