Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taking Coding and Programming to the Next Level

The way I see it, it all starts with curiosity and a challenge.  How do I move this from one spot to another?  How many steps will it take me to move it?

That's all it takes for many of us to get hooked - on a game, an activity, or a real-life task -- our brains go to work trying to plan out the most efficient course of action.  And when that doesn't work, we reflect, redesign, and re-try.

Many students, classes, and grade levels in my school participated in the Hour of Code in December, 2013....and an hour was only the beginning for most!  Students and staff alike had a blast helping out Angry Bird on, designing a holiday card with Scratch, and solving all kinds of coding puzzles on Tynker.

Some students had already tried out Scratch, others had done block-based programming in our 6th grade Robotics unit using LEGO Mindstorms NXT Video Trainer, but most of the 1st through 6th graders who tried programming through the Hour of Code had never done it before.  And, they definitely didn't want to stop after an hour or a week.

Beyond the students' and teachers' enthusiasm for coding and programming, I saw some pretty awesome results during the Hour of Code at our school.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • students reflected on and persevered through failure to reach a goal
  • students collaborated with one another to discuss ideas, challenges, and questions
  • older students acted as coding and programming mentors to younger students to help them talk through ideas...without giving away the answers 

So, I'd like to take coding and programming to the next level in our school.  I am organizing a recess coding and programming group, and am working with teachers to incorporate coding and programming into lessons, units, and as options for student choice.  I am also working to connect with other educators who are expanding beyond the Hour of Code in their school through Twitter and Google +.

 A few informational / inspirational resources on taking coding and programming beyond the Hour of Code:

I came across an article on 3 ways to continue coding after the Hour of Code that discussed some great options, including the tons of resources and activities available through; a coding app through Edmodo called LearnStreet, and ideas for offering PD that focuses on the value of coding across curriculum.

Here's a great article by Kevin Hodgson on learning coding in writing class - he makes great points about the importance of understanding how technology works and actively gaining the skills that can help to bridge the gap between technology consumers to technology creators.  I also love the parallel he draws between coding and composition (I'm a language geek at heart, after all) -- great points for incorporating coding and programming into language arts, among other subject areas.

Lastly, I recently read a blog post by Rae Fearing about how her 5th graders used the Hopscotch app to create a game and share it with their 1st grade buddies - pretty awesome!  I'd love to try this out with my recess coding and programming group.

What are your favorite resources for coding and programming with students?

How are you continuing beyond the Hour of Code?

I'd love to hear your ideas - feel free to leave a comment below!