Days 3 and 4 have been filled with lots of young learners for hour of code.
Kindergarten class have continued to come to use the iPad app The Foos. In each session, we start by talking about the word “code”. Lots of them mention passcodes on iPhones and codes to get into gates or buildings. We link this to the idea of giving a computer a code. Then, we watch the video from President Obama.
Before we start the app, we talk a lot about how coders don’t give up, they try small pieces and test, and they collaborate when needed. The teachers and I have made some interesting observations about students while they are coding with The Foos and other coding tools.
1. Students who might easily give up or struggle with other subject areas in school are fully engaged and putting forth tremendous effort when coding, while others who like to get things right the first time are easily frustrated.
2. We talk a lot about stamina at our school and how long you can spend working at a task whether it’s math, reading, or something else. The stamina of students in coding is very high. Working for almost an hour was easily obtainable by most students regardless of age.
3. Students who might not normally share their thinking with other students in order to help or collaborate were very willing to share their coding strategies.
4. Some students still needed some direct instruction or nudges. With the Foos in particular, I noticed students repeatedly pressing the run button in order to get a character to move rather than write enough code to make it happen with one click. I observed students repeating the same code over and over that wasn’t working and never trying something new. There is a lot to learn from tinkering, but it is still essential and necessary for a teacher facilitator to step in with some instruction, tips, or nudges.
In addition to the Foos, we had 2nd graders who continued to enjoy using the Made with Code site. They loved programming a yeti to dance, but they thought it was super cool to be able to program the lights on the White House Christmas tree and actually schedule their code to light up in Washington.
Our preK students had a blast using the Sphero draw app to practice drawing shapes and programming Sphero to drive around the carpet in their shape. You can read more about that here.
Finally, we’ve been having an interesting occurrence in our makerspace. It started with a couple of students asking if they could come in during their recess to build and program a robot. Then, another student asked. Before I knew it, the word was spreading and more students who were new to making were showing up during recess. It’s sort of like an underground movement. It’s exciting, but I’m trying to figure out how to manage it. Just today, a student came in on her own, designed an object in Tinkercad, exported it to Makerware, uploaded it to an SD card, and began printing it on the 3D printer. Another student uploaded a file to Thingiverse that he made at home and prepped his own file for printing. Two students started assembling a robot and pooling their knowledge to create the code that lived up to their vision for what the robot can do. Another new student appeared, and started tinkering with how to program Sphero.
Students want to dream, tinker, create, and share. I’m thankful that our library is a place that they can do that. Hour of code once again opens my eyes and teachers’ eyes to what students can do.