Teacher Review for Lightbot Jr : Coding Puzzles for Ages 4+

Visual coding application that teaches computational thinking

Anthony C.
Technology coordinator
Bayview Glen
Toronto, Canada
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Further application
Teacher-led lessons
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
How I Use It
Lightbot was a popular choice for our Hour of Code and Computer Science Week activities with students from Grade One and Five. We used the site (http://hourofcode.com/lb) to access the free levels available for the #HourofCode. As a class, we explored this page on "How Lightbot teaches programming?" (http://lightbot.com/hoclearn.html) to learn this visual programming language and then the students loaded the site on our Windows computers. (We accessed through the http://www.abcya.com/lightbot.htm site.) We incorporated an "Ask 3 before you ask me" approach to encourage collaboration and sharing and soon enough we had a busy class with all students engaged and attempting to pass through 3 of the levels including Basics, Procedures and Loops.
My Take
For the majority of our Grade One to Five students, completing the Basics was a reasonable challenge with our Grade One students appropriately needing the most support and encouragement. However, what was most interesting to me was how this app and way of thinking encouraged new students to emerge as leaders in programming and computational thinking. Students who were USED being challenged by new learning demonstrated much more grit and perseverance than those students not used to having to work hard to find success (i.e students experience consistent success in academics.) This app (website) was very popular to learners from Grade 2 and 5. Moving to the Procedures levels was a bit of jump for many students. Perhaps more videos and examples would help learners be more able to make the leap from Basics to Procedures levels. (The pace is much slower in the paid app which allows learners a more gradual progression of difficulty. The Hour of Code (has 3 Levels: Basics, Procedures and Loops) whereas the paid app adds levels called "Jumping" and Overloading" BEFORE the Procedures Levels. (The Loops Level was challenging but demonstrated the concept in an intuitive manner. Overall, all students found success with with app especially in the first Basics Level and I would recommend this app and website as a popular introduction for students new to programming. Allow them to collaborate and encourage them to demonstrate grit and perseverance, two important 21st century skills and you will have a busy, noisy but engaged class for students aged 6 to 12.