Why I Picked It Up: Technically, Jessica picked this one up. But it had “computer” on it, so she gave it to me! This is a really timely biography considering it’s Computer Science Education Week (December 4-10, 2017), and we do love a good biography! Also, it said “poet and science” on the cover, and we’re all about integrating content areas!
Why I Finished It: I honestly didn’t know much about Ada Lovelace, so it was a very informative read for me! I didn’t know she was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron or that the computer as we know it was inspired by a loom during the Industrial Revolution. It was interesting to see how different her parents were and how she ended up taking after her father even though she never knew him. Ada is a great role model for our students, girls and boys alike. She didn’t listen to the people that told her what she should or shouldn’t be doing, she didn’t conform, but rather, she pursued her passion and used her mind to accomplish great things.
Also, the illustrations are amazing! Jessie Hartland adds such depth to each page with her detailed, informative pictures! You truly could read through the story once and then go back through and just “read” the pictures and get another layer of meaning from this great book!
Who I Would Give It To: Any librarians that teach technology (I’m sure it’s not just me!) because it’s a great way to integrate books with coding! Classroom teachers (upper elementary and middle school) should definitely add this biography to their collection.
Technology – Coding
Let’s start with the obvious here: coding! We did the Hour of Code last year in PK-6th grade, and when I let them know we were going to be participating again this year, there was much rejoicing. My students absolutely LOVE coding! However, I didn’t want the Hour of Code to be this isolated event in which we participate once a year. I wanted to help the students understand the role coding plays in the world, and understand some of the history of it. Plus, I love any opportunity to integrate my two subject areas and read about technology.
Two big ideas from this book that would work well for setting students up for coding:
- Thinking outside the box. Ada was a life-long learner before that phrase was cool, and that was how she approached everything in her life. When she visited the factory and saw the mechanical loom, she didn’t just see a machine that could now make interesting cloth. She saw the bigger picture of a machine that was directed by a punch card and she started to think about other ways that could be used. We want our students to look at things this way too because they are the next generation of inventors!
- Sequencing. Every task can be broken down into a series of steps and those steps go in order. Even PreK kids understand this concept, and it’s so foundational for coding. It’s fun to ask students, especially young students, which is smarter – a computer or a human? Most of the time they say computer because it does all these cool things. But, as Ada realized in the book, “[t]he intelligence was not in the machine itself, but in the genius of the designer.” Later in the book, there’s a two-page spread that details the process of how Ada published the article that would raise awareness (and ultimately funds) for the Analytical Engine in Britain. We can connect sequencing to just about anything – getting ready for school, the order of events in a story, the way we work a math problem – anything!
Technology – Hour of Code
You don’t want to miss out on this! The Hour of Code is what it sounds like: a global coding initiative where students in classrooms around the world code for a least an hour during this week to demonstrate just how accessible coding is for everyone. It’s not too late either – you can participate anytime during this week! Just go to the website, sign up (it’s free, they just do this so they know how many people are participating), and they give you everything you need! You don’t even have to know how to code! There are tons of tutorials and lesson plans that take anywhere from an hour to a whole semester, depending on the kind of class setting you have and how into coding your students get.
This page does a great job of collecting tutorials from lots of different organizations: https://hourofcode.com/us/learn That being said, it’s a little overwhelming to know where to start if you’ve never done coding before. This is what my students will be doing this week:
PreK and K: https://game.kodable.com/hour-of-code
1st: This is a whole course, but my students will be starting with the hands-on practice in Lesson 4 since we’ve already done some of the “unplugged” activities – https://studio.code.org/s/courseb
3rd/4th: Choose one of these tutorials – https://code.org/hourofcode/overview
At the beginning, Ada imagines it would be fun to fly, then goes about it in a scientific way. She studies, plans, and designs a harness to attach wings to her back. Students can do this too!
Start by having students brainstorm: What do you wish you could do? Remind students that it doesn’t have to be something practical!
Then, students can start the planning/design phase of an invention that will help them do something! Incorporate the creative side here by having students illustrate their design with diagrams like Ada did in the book.
Finally, students can outline a story involving their invention. Have them imagine characters, come up with a setting, describe a problem, and then how their invention is the solution to the problem.
Before reading this with students, have them think about this question:
Is there such a thing as too much imagination?
Having students answer this question with examples from their own life before they read this story will help them make more personal connections with the text. Ada’s mom seems to think she has too much imagination, but clearly, her imagination led to something amazing!
This story takes place during the Industrial Revolution. You have two options here. Students need some background knowledge on this time period. You can choose to frontload it or have them research it on their own. This will depend on the age of your students and the kind of time you have!
This Primary Source Set from the Library of Congress is a great place to start (it also comes with a teachers’ guide). You can download the iBook or view a PDF of various images and documents from this time period. Choose one or two to show your class or have them browse and make discoveries on their own. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/industrial-revolution/