Practicing What We Preach
The evolution of our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum
At the company wrap party for our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum, the education team took some time to reflect on the evolution of our curriculum design. We thought we’d share some of our insights with you and give you a peek behind the scenes of our development process!
The design thinking process helps designers and innovators develop effective and creative solutions to myriad problems. This process is used by a variety of business fields to develop products such as cars, theme parks, apps, and toys.
Design thinking is a non-linear process!
When design thinking is integrated into school cultures, it can also foster collaboration, communication, and creativity. For our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum, each coding level ends with a Design Thinking Assessment so that students can apply their coding skills to solve a real-world problem.
More importantly, we used the design thinking process to develop our own curriculum!
In this stage of the design thinking process, we took the time to understandthe needs and wants of our teachers and students. We began by observing how our robots were used in classrooms and then started to interview teachers from across the country. We documented how students used our robots to solve problems, and we asked teachers about any struggles they faced or any tools that worked for them.
Sharing can be difficult when the content is mostly on the tablet.
From our research, we defined a few main problems. Many teachers didn’t know where to start when teaching coding. Teachers also had a limited amount of classroom time and needed content that could be paired with cross-curricular content so they could get more holistic learning.
As for the students, many student groups struggled with sharing robot and tablet time. Furthermore, students also didn’t have a way to reflect and showcase their work as they improved their coding skills.
We presented teachers with different types of curriculum and listened to what they preferred.
After we identified the problems we wanted to tackle, our team brainstormed and iterated on different types of curriculum we could offer. This ranged from in-app puzzles to challenge cards to project-based lessons. We presented these options to teachers and took their feedback into consideration.
Many meetings involved scribbling out and defining the different components we wanted for our curriculum.
We decided to develop a comprehensive coding curriculum that blended a little bit of old school with new school. By creating physical coding Challenge Cards and providing planning/reflection worksheets, student groups could truly collaborate by taking on different roles. One student could program on the tablet, one could keep track of the card’s objectives and obstacles, and another could document their coding experience.
We also mapped out a scope and sequence aligned with Code.org’s CS Fundamentals Series so that teachers would have a clear roadmap. This roadmap lays out where teachers should start and how they can introduce different coding concepts using Dash and Dot. The curriculum also offers cross-curricular extension activities for each Challenge Card!
The design of our Challenge Cards went through several prototypes and iterations.
Once we decided on what to build, we began creating prototypes. We designed mockups of different Challenge Cards and different box designs so we could see what would work well in classrooms.
Testing out Challenge Cards at the Boys and Girls Club in Silicon Valley
Once we developed our prototypes, we began testing the Challenge Cards in classrooms and after-school programs. We also reached out to our amazing teacher community and encouraged them to try out our prototypes in their classrooms. We took this valuable feedback and continued improving on our designs until we had a truly comprehensive, engaging, and interactive curriculum solution!
As you can see, we have had quite the journey designing our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum. The design thinking process has helped us keep in touch with what works best for our teachers and their students. We hope our new curriculum will empower your students and encourage them to get coding with Dash and Dot!
To learn more, feel free to visit our education website:
Sep 3, 2017
With over 15 years of curriculum design experience, Charlotte Cheng has developed curriculum content for Wonder Workshop, the Walt Disney Company, Save the Children, LeapFrog, and several EdTech startups. Her expertise is creating effective and engaging content for kids at the intersection of education, media, and technology. Charlotte has also taught in a variety of K-12 classroom settings and one of her workshops was featured on ABC News. She received her BS in Symbolic Systems and MA in Elementary Education at Stanford University. In her spare time, Charlotte likes to draw on walls, sidewalks, faces, and once in awhile, the good old traditional piece of paper.