Today has been filled with 3rd grade coding. Ms. Hicks brought her Spectrum class to start the day off, and then those same students returned with their own class later in the day. This gave these particular students 2 hours of code, so they were able to do both the Made with Code site and then launch into making Scratch projects by following the tutorials and then branching off on their own. I love the structure of the Made with Code site and how it builds up to the openness of a tool like Scratch. Students seem to better understand the concept of block coding after using the structure of Made with Code.
I know that the Made with Code site was made with girls in mind, but my own wish is that the site didn’t specifically talk about girls. So many of our boys loved the site as well, but they were a little turned off when they saw the text on the site that specifically labeled the site for girls. As long as they didn’t read the text, they were happily coding together.
Something else happened during today’s coding sessions. Some of the teachers gave themselves permission to sit down and code with students. All week, teachers have walked around and had great conversations with students about perseverance, coding, failure, and innovation. However, very few have allowed themselves to code.
Ms. Spurgeon was bubbling with excitement today as she coded the White House Christmas tree in her favorite color of pink. Her excitement spilled over into the students at her table as they tried some of the things she was trying and watched her try different pieces of code.
It reminded me of the importance of learning along with our students and really showed me that I probably need to explicitly invite teachers to sit and code with their classes. I can do all of the running around, talking, and nudging, but teachers should learn along with their students and consider how coding comes into their own curriculum.
Another new thing that happened today was that some students really stuck to the Scratch tutorials without trying to branch off on their own too early. The ones that stuck with the tutorials really got some functioning projects off the ground during their hour of work.
Several of the 3rd graders branched off from the 3 holiday projects on Made with Code and tried some of the other projects. They loved the beat creator.
As students made beats, they were naturally starting to think about lyrics or dances to go with their beats. Their teacher happened to be standing nearby when I observed this so I suggested that they might write a rap that connected with some of their classwork. Then, the teacher got excited and suggested a rap about habitats in science. It will be interesting to see if this takes off in class or not, but students were certainly interested in creating beats and putting in some work to write a song.
4th grade closed out our day with all kinds of coding. The experience with coding was the most varied in this grade because several students had used coding in projects last year. I showed several resources and turned them loose to see what they could do.
This year’s hour of code has been so much fun and was a big improvement over last year. Next year, I hope to do even more. I would love to involve families at some point. I’ve seen several schools hosting parent coding nights, so perhaps we will look at that for next year.