Hour of Code in the Library

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For the past 3 years, our library has participated in Hour of Code during Computer Science in Education Week.  This movement of setting aside an hour to tinker with coding was started by Hadi Partovi.  When we started back in 2014, there was only a handful of options of coding resources for students to try on code.org and many of them crashed due to the number of students using the site around the world. Fast forward to 2016 and students now have 172 reliable options in the Hour of Code portion of code.org and numerous other lessons that take them beyond the hour of code.

hour-of-code-5

When we first started participating, classes came to the library to try out an hour of code. This year, many classes still came, but some classrooms also tried out the hour in their own rooms.  It was fun to see something that started in the library spread into general classrooms.

hour-of-code-15

This year we had classes from every grade participate in Hour of Code in the library (including PreK next week).  We started each session by exploring the word “code” and connecting it to our own experiences. Many students talked about passcodes on phones or tablets.    We then related this to the language that a computer speaks.

I had students think about their favorite video game or app and explained that every tap or press of a button was coded with instructions for the computer to know what to do. I also had students imagine if their favorite game or app never existed.  What if the coders gave up while developing the game?  This question brought the most gasps.  We talked about the importance of mindset and not giving up. I loved that code.org had this great video that setup the idea of a growth mindset.

This year, I let students have a lot of choice in grades 3-5 because many of them had experienced hour of code or a coding project before.  Some needed to try something more advanced while others needed to start with the basics.  My big rule was that once they chose a coding activity, they were supposed to stick with it.  With 172 options, it would be really easy to jump from one thing to another without really pushing yourself through the hard parts. I loved that code.org had a filter to filter by grade level or coding experience.

For grades K-2, we used an app on the iPad called Box Island, but we also had the flexibility to move to code.org if students were ready to move on to something else.  I thought it was easier to stick with one tool for these grade levels since coding was so new to most of the students.

Students worked on coding all over the library. Some grouped themselves on cushions or tables. Others worked alone.  Collaboration between students started to happen whether they were using the same app or something different.  It’s something I see in makerspace as well.  There’s something about this kind of experience that facilitates natural collaboration. Students want to help one another. It isn’t forced or required. It just happens.

Students persevere. They celebrate their success enthusiastically, and sometimes yell when something doesn’t work right.

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Team coding with Osmo #hourofcode #kidscancode

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It isn’t always perfect, though. Sometimes students give up.  They say it’s too hard.  Those moments are frustrating for me, but I like to talk with students about why they gave up.  I can’t pretend that I don’t ever give up either…because I do.  However, I think it’s important for us to acknowledge the importance of persevering even when things are hard because it’s a goal we should strive for.

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At the end of each session, I brought students back together to talk about the experience. They started to crowdsource a list of tips to pass on to the class that came after them. Looking at their list you will see so many tips that could be applied to multiple situations, not just coding.

We also looked at subject areas like reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.  I asked students to consider whether or not they used any of these subjects or skills while coding. They of course gave brilliant responses.

  • Reading code is like reading another language
  • We read instructions to know what to do
  • I revised my code just like I revise my writing
  • I had to use strategy just like solving a math problem

I invited them to think about how we might continue to explore coding as we create projects in class.  Many of the students went home excited about coding and shared with families. I got messages from family members about their child’s eagerness to code.  I even got a few pictures of coders in action while at home.

I love doing hour of code in the library because it’s a source of professional learning for teachers and a chance for students to try something they enjoy.  We can take a risk together trying something new and then explore how to connect this with what we are already doing. Teachers see how engaged the students are and ponder how to continue that engagement.  It’s also a very public space, so anyone who walks into our library during hour of code also starts to consider the power of coding in school. I’m still figuring out how we can weave this into more of our year. The students love it. They are engaged. How can we use this excitement to connect to what we are learning together each day?

 

Hour of Code 2014: Scenes from Day 5

2014 Day 5 (22)

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.

Sparkly Tree

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.

 

 

Hour of Code 2014: Scenes from Day 2

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Day 2 was a whirlwind with back to back class all day from 8AM until 2:30PM.  Once again, it was a day filled with perseverance, collaboration, and celebration as students figured out how to create pieces of code in apps and websites and run them.

Kindergarten and 1st grade continued to use the app “The Foos” by CodeSpark.  Today, I gave better instruction encouraging them to write the shortest code they could think of in order to get their character to capture the star.  We also did a few examples together by displaying the iPad on the screen.  This helped us to think about problem solving, trying something different, and visualizing the actions we wanted our character to take before we wrote code.

Our 2nd grade classes tried out block coding by using the Anna and Elsa snowflake game on Code.org as well as the Angry Bird and Flappy Bird game.  Once again today, the Code.org site was slow.  It didn’t crash, but it was still so slow that students were discouraged.  We visited it when we could, but we focused more of our time on Google’s Made with Code site.  This site was created to encourage girls to code, but we’ve found that it’s really a site for everyone.

Made with Code_Google

Students chose from 3 block coding activities:  making a yeti dance, creating a White House light show, and designing an animated snowflake.

Made with Code_Google choices

This was such a great tool for 2nd grade because it walked them through each step of adding blocks and then they could make adjustments to create various effects.  It was a great stepping stone to move on to something like Scratch or Scratch Jr.  In fact, we looked at Scratch at the end of each session and students better understood all of the menus in Scratch because of what they learned on this coding site.

 

Finally, the entire 5th grade came in for a coding extravaganza.  It was loud and productive.  They tried the three Scratch tutorials on Code.org

Get Creative with Coding   Imagine  Program  Share

Several students also used Made with Code to create more dancing yetis and lights.  I have a feeling that many of these students will be coding on their own tonight, in class, and over the winter break.

Scratch Google Hangout with Barrow and Van Meter

GHO (4)Mrs. Hicks’s 3rd grade students have been working on building Scratch programs for several weeks now.  Originally, their journey was going to lead them to creating some scratch programs around a math standard or possibly environmental standards, but the project grew into so much more.

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These students started out by creating their own Scratch accounts and exploring.  I showed them how to use the tutorial built into Scratch as well as the video tutorials from Hour of Code.  From there, students got to work.  It seemed that every day these students came into class, they had learned something new.  Many of them loved using Scratch so much, that they went home and continued their projects on their own.  When a student learned something new, they came in and shared it with others.  At the close of each lesson, Mrs. Hicks had students write reflections on a Padlet.  This wall became a collective list of tips, new learning, and frustrating moments as students shared their thoughts each day.  Students often went back to review their standards, used checklists, and reviewed their work with rubrics throughout the creation process.

GHO (2) GHO (3)

Today, several students came together to share their work in progress in a Google Hangout with Shannon Miller’s students in Van Meter, Iowa.  The students were very nervous about sharing their work, but they had a lot to be proud of.  Students’ projects had branched out to projects in every subject area:  a multiplication program that solves multiplication problems, a social studies program about the regions of Georgia, a science program about dinosaurs, a math program about data, and more.  It was truly amazing to see what these students have created in Scratch knowing that they all started on the same page.  None of them were users of Scratch prior to this project.

To prepare for our Google Hangout, we talked about how to present work online.  This included reminders about talking through each step that you are doing rather than just clicking on things in silence.  Students went into my office to present their work, while the rest of the students sat in front of the projector to watch.  During the practice, students gave one another feedback on how they presented.

GHO (5) GHO (14)

Today’s live Google Hangout On Air had some glitches at the beginning when we couldn’t get everyone connected in the hangout, but once we got rolling, the process was smooth.  A student screenshared their Scratch project, while students at Barrow and Van Meter listened.  Barrow students wrote feedback on paper to give to the presenters during tomorrow’s class.  Todd Hollett, our tech integration specialist, helped facilitate the hangout at the projector while I facilitated the student presenting in my office.  Van Meter’s students gave verbal feedback during and after each presentation.

GHO (12) GHO (8)

I think today gave our 3rd graders confidence in presenting their work online.  The positive feedback from Van Meter boosted their confidence as well.  Here’s a look at how our Hangout went.  It’s a long video, but the projects are amazing for our 1st attempt.

I was excited to hear after the hangout that the students in Van Meter have an idea for a project between Barrow students and Van Meter.  I can’t wait to hear more!

GHO feedback

 

Hour of Code Days 3-5

Day 5 (3)This week has just been incredible.  It’s hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago the planning for this week began.

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.

Day 2 (11)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:

Hour of Code Day 1 and 2

The entire 5th grade came together to code using Scratch.

The entire 5th grade came together to code using Scratch.

I am so energized by the excitement I saw from Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 5th grade students yesterday and today during our Hour of Code.  Here’s what each session looked like:

1.  I asked them how many of them liked to play video games, iPad apps, computer programs, or knew someone who used Facebook.  Pretty much every hand shot up.  Then, I asked them how many of them knew how those programs were made and their hands shot down.  However, when  I asked how many of them would like to explore how computers and games are programmed, pretty much every hand went up again.

2.  We watched 1 or 2 videos like these:

3.  I briefly introduced the tool that students would use and gave them the short link.

4.  I gave some ground rules:

  • Coders don’t give up.  They try, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.
  • Coders collaborate.  Ask 3 other students for ideas or help before asking me.
  • Have fun!

Kindergarten and 1st grade students worked with Kodable to program a rolling fuzz ball to move through a maze collecting coins.  Our 2nd graders used Tynker to program a puppy dog to perform various commands.  Our 5th graders used Scratch to design an interactive holiday card.

At tables, I watched students leap into coding.  They hit speed bumps right away.  Many began asking one another, but there was still a tendency to ask me.  I helped at times but facilitated students talking to one another most of the time.  Since I had seen all of the tables, I knew which students had figured out some of the coding tricks.  I used this knowledge to nudge students toward one another.  Many of them really stepped up to help their peers and students who weren’t always looked to as an expert suddenly found themselves being the go-to person.  It was empowering!

holiday on ScratchAnother amazing thing was having the entire 5th grade working together in the library.  They were eager to jump in and use Scratch, which most of them had never seen or heard of.  For the most part, they quickly settled in around the library in groups or by themselves and got to work.  As they figured out things, they shared.  Some of them left having a complete card made.  Others left with a start.  All of them left with a better understanding of how to use Scratch and an excitement for coding.  There is great potential in this energy that has been generated.

Day 1 (21)Our days were not without problems.  Our school internet seemed particularly slow.  The Hour of Code sites were also swamped with visitors, so these two combinations made some of the tools impossible to load.  We had to completely change our 2nd grade Tynker lesson on day 1 because it wouldn’t load.  Instead, students used blockly and Kodable.  Kodable was our reliable app of the day.  When students all tried to login to Scratch, they kept getting bumped out.  Also, they had trouble signing in, so several left without a chance to save their work.  All of these glitches didn’t dampen the excitement for coding.

Throughout the days, students added some reflections about what they learned to a Flipgrid.  This grid was also shared on Twitter so that students in other schools could add as well.  We have several more lessons planned across Wednesday-Friday and next week students will participate in a coding smackdown in Google Hangouts.  They will have a chance to share their learning and creations with others around the country.

Hour of Code is Coming This Week!

We are very excited about the opportunities planned for our students in the library this week.  It’s Computer Science Education Week and to celebrate several classes in grades K-5 will participate in Hour of Code, which gives kids hour-long experiences in a variety of kid-friendly coding tools.  The hour of code site has multiple step by step tutorials to help kids learn some basics of each coding tool, while allowing them the freedom to be creative.  Theres’s something for every age from 5-106 🙂

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual program dedicated to showing K-12 students the importance of computer science education.

Organized by the Computing in the Core coalition and Code.org, CSEdWeek is held in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).

Why would we want our students to learn computer coding?  Take a look at some of these statistics.

more-jobs-than-students

job-student-gap

2012-hs-ap-enrollment

Some of our Kindergarten and first grade students will use an iPad app called Kodable.

kodable

Second and Third grades will be exploring both Blockly and Tynker.  Some first graders will also try Tynker.

https://i2.wp.com/www.tynker.com/image/hp/course-intro-to-programming-videotutorial.jpg

Tynker Intro

Fourth and Fifth graders (and perhaps a few other students too) will make holiday cards with Scratch.

During the week, we plan to make connections with other schools around the country who are also participating in Hour of Code in order to allow our students to share, brainstorm, and problem solve across the miles through Skype and Google Hangouts.  On December 17, we will participate in a live Google Hangout On Air where students will share their coding creations and learning with students in multiple states simultaneously.

The intention of Hour of Code is to give as many students as possible experience with coding, which will hopefully lead to both individual exploration or class projects in the future.  I’m prepared to be amazed this week by what students discover.  Look for posts throughout this week to share our progress.