Monday, February 24, 2014

WVR Code Project

In an effort to bring regular, hands-on opportunities for coding and programming to the students at my school, I started a recess coding and programming group that I'm calling the WVR Code Project.  We meet once every two weeks (I wish it were more, but it's a start!), and 12 students each from grades 1-6 are able to participate.  The students usually rotate at each grade level to allow a variety of kids the opportunity to try out coding and programming.

I built a website to act as a "home base" for our WVR Code Project.  Check it out at (Keep in mind that it's still a work in progress!).

Many of the younger students have loved programming with the Kodable app, and have really started to get the hang of the vocabulary and different commands.  They love unlocking new levels and new fuzzes!  We are working on coaching one another through challenges without giving away the solution - we have a strict "no spoiler alert!" motto!

With the 4th-6th graders, I am encouraging the students to set up user groups for the various different platforms and programming languages they are exploring.  Our largest group so far is the Scratch group, but we also have students who are learning JavaScript through Khan Academy and CodeAcademy, and others who are programming with apps like Kodable and Hopscotch.  In addition to reinforcing the "no spoiler alert!" motto with this group, we are also working on reflecting on successes and new learning after every session.

I am getting super interested in coding and programming myself, and have been mentoring every month through some awesome organizations that meet locally - CoderDojoTC and TechnovationMN every month.  These organizations provide free coding and programming session for kids (and at some events, just girls) on the weekends.  I leave these weekend sessions feeling energized and inspired by the incredible ideas and talents these kids demonstrate!

Through my experiences mentoring with TechnovationMN, I learned about the Technovation Challenge -  "a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring girls in technology and entrepreneurship. In the program, middle school girls work in teams to develop mobile apps, conduct market research, write business plans, and create a “pitch” for funding. Each team works with both a classroom teacher at their school and a female mentor/role model from the technology industry. The challenge culminates in a competition where teams compete for funding to take market their app. The goal of the program is to inspire girls to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders and entrepreneurs. Technovation has reached over 1,000 girls across the country, and hopes to reach 2,000 girls this year as they expand globally."

I decided to start a Technovation team at my school and am so excited to get started this week! I'll be coaching and mentoring and team of four 6th grade girls. We decided to call ourselves the #WVRCodeGirls. Our first task is to learn the basics of App Inventor, which I've been learning and exploring through my mentoring opportunities.  I can't wait to see our team's ideas take off!

I'm honestly loving geeking out with coding and programming. My next adventures include teaching myself Ruby, and joining a programming learning circle to collaborate with other Ruby users and try out what I'm learning...we'll see how I do!  In the mean time, I am also really enjoying participating in #kidscancode Twitter chat, which happens every Tuesday at 7pm, Central time. Join us, if you can!