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Colt Andrews Elementary School Library: Bitsbox Coding

Students - Make an app with Bitsbox!

Click on the image below to enter the code to make your app.


The goal of the project is to purchase three Classroom Bitsbox kits in order to give third-grade students the opportunity to learn and practice computational thinking skills and then teach others about their learning experience.  The three Classroom Bitsbox kits are each based on a theme that is in alignment with topics covered during classroom and/or library instruction.  The themes are: Monster Mayhem (creatures from mythology and folklore), Zoological (animal nonfiction) and Lights! Camera! Action! (movies and media literacy).  


The project has two objectives.  The first objective is for the students to learn how to write JavaScript/HTML code in order to made apps. Each third-grade classroom will use one kit to learn to write code to make the apps from their classroom.  The second objective is for the students to share their apps with the other two third-grade classrooms.  By sharing apps, each class’s learning is transmitted across the grade level in a participatory fashion through a blog.  Each classroom of students will be “app creators” based on their classroom kit apps and will be “app players” as they learn the apps from the other two classrooms.

Student Learning Standards and Skills: What are students learning?

Lesson plans and instructional activities are created with three learning target resources - computational thinking skills and concepts  and the Common Core State Standards-American Association of School Librarians’ Standards Crosswalk.


While many computational skills and approaches are addressed by the project, the essential ones are included in the table below.



Algorithms (making steps and rules)


Abstraction (removing unnecessary details)


Evaluation (making judgments)

Tinkering (experimenting and playing)


Debugging (finding and fixing errors)


Collaborating (working together)


The “power standards” from the Grade 3 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and American Association of School Librarians’ Standards (AASL) addressed by the project are included in the table below.




CC.3.R.I.1 Key Ideas and Details: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers


CC.3.R.I.3 Key Ideas and Details: Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect


1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame searches for new understanding


1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning


1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge


Additionally, students must read, write and accurately type in order for their apps to be successful.  Because there are no videos or audio options, student must read, think about the directions, process the commands and vocabulary, then write and execute a series of algorithms to create their app.


Why is student learning based on these standards and skills?

The project is needed because projections show that computing is required in 70% of all STEM positions.  In RI, the annual mean salary for a computer programmer is approx. $82,000.*  According to Computer Science Education Week (December, 2015), only 3% of college students are majoring in computer science.  Despite the relationship between computational skills and STEM, only 8% of STEM graduates have acquired the necessary computing skills to ensure their success in the STEM field.**

    Guiteras School students in Grades K-5 have actively participated in Hour of Code projects in the past as part of the Library Program.  While the Hour of Code projects have value and the students benefit from learning and practicing computational thinking skills and approaches through the program, there is a gap between manipulating code languages (like Blockly and JavaScript) and purposefully writing code in order to solve a problem by creating an app.  With Hour of Code projects, students are manipulating the code languages rather than writing code.