Even with lots of benchmark tests and wrapping up the end of the quarter, our Barrow teachers found time to bring students to the library to participate in Hour of Code.
No matter which class came, I saw similar results: engaged students, problem solving, collaboration, suspension of time, perseverance. Exposing students to coding has opened up a new world for them. I loved having a conversation with students during every session about the importance of coding knowledge in their future. Who knows what jobs will be out there when these students join the workforce, but coding is very likely going to be a part of it.
During the week, our internet has been extremely slow, which has given us lots of problems. It hasn’t stopped us though. We did have to abandon some of the computer programs like Tynker because they just wouldn’t load on our machines.
Kindergarten and 1st grade continued to explore Kodable. Second grade started exploring Light-bot on the iPad instead of Tynker. An interesting thing started to happen with these students because they got up out of their seats and acted out the moves that their robot needed to make in order to visualize the code they needed to put in. I loved watching the strategies that students developed to figure out the code they needed.
Students have recorded some of their thinking using a Fligrid this week, which was yet another new tool to many students. They loved making these short videos about their learning.
A group of third graders along with the whole 4th and 5th grade explored Scratch to make an interactive holiday card. The 4th and 5th grade groups were huge because the entire grade level came together. I kept our whole group time very short. I stressed the importance of not giving up, messing around to see how things work, using tutorials, and collaborating. It was amazing to watch a group of 75+ students disperse, find their own work spaces, and get to work. When they figured things out, they shared. For the 4th grade group, we did a Google Hangout on Air with Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic) and her students who were using Blockly. During the hangout, we each setup a computer and headset and students were able to talk to one another about what they were doing. I picked up our laptop and walked around our library to show her students what my students were doing. Sherry got on the microphone several times and helped some of my students with their questions too. It was a great experiment that I definitely want to try again because it opened up our walls to student-to-student collaboration across states. I wanted to try the idea of coders on call, and this was a step toward that for the future. You can see how the conversations turned out in this video:
Next week, we hope to connect students again with Sherry Gick’s students in Indiana and Shannon Miller’s students in Iowa to share some of their learning and creations. This week has sparked interest in coding, and I’m sure that coding will make its way into many of the collaborative projects during the year. Thank you Code.org and Computer Science Education Week for putting together such a great program, inspiring videos, and helpful tutorials. The word is out that coding is a critical skill needed by our students.
Here’s a glimpse of what happened at Barrow this week: