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.