How I Use It
I introduced this during the "Hour of Code" but have continued to use it as an extra activity to offer students when they have finished other projects. It is engaging and fits different levels of ability. Figuring things out brings satisfaction to students. I think that this will be woven into the computer curriculum for 4th and 5th graders at our school. I want to move us away from teaching specific applications and "how to's" and move toward teaching students how to think and problem solve on their own. This application definitely has the potential to do that. Very little scaffolding by the teacher was necessary and collaboration was a natural consequence within the classroom as we used this.
This is a great way to introduce logic and also coding to younger students. The kids needed to think and plan. They also helped each other without "Doing it for" them. One middle school student in particular stands out to me. He has a lot of trouble learning and gets quite a bit of resourcing support. He tried to do a more advanced coding activity during the Hour of Code but just could not conquer it. I switched him to Lightbot and the slow progression and simple interface gave him a real taste of success. I heard some of the younger students talking about how they went home and used the activity on their own. To me, that is the hallmark of a great learning tool, when kids want to do it even though no one is telling them to. It is also so interesting to see how different students react to this activity. Introducing this to young students may just capture those kids who are destined to continue on in computer science in a way that nothing else could.