I have been in the classroom since 1979 — and in an educational technology classroom since 1992 — and though I have always had a very creative, fun, learning, active classroom — yet, I have NEVER seen the joy and engagement as I have since I have brought CODING into the lab.
About a year ago, my friend Vicky S shared with me about coding — and I decided to give it a try by using the APP kodable. (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kodable/id577673067?mt=8)
Fast forward to this year, and I decided to investigate more about HOUR OF CODE (http://code.org/learn) and created an account and signed my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes up.
Each week during November and the first week of December — our 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders will be a part of HOUR OF CODE and 6th grade will join up in December.
For the 1st week — I showed the HOUR OF CODE welcome video and then introduced them to the first 3 lessons in the 20 lessons of Hour Of Code…..and then stepped back and watched them. There was an excitement, an engagement and such learning happening.
For the 2nd week — I showed the PAIRED PROGRAMMING video from Hour of Code and then we worked on the LIGHT BOT lessons. Again — they were so involved and working in teams was NOT a issue at all.
For the 3rd week — we will be learning SCRATCH and for the 4th week we will use KODABLE again. I might even extend it to a Week 5 and let them choose whatever coding program they wish to use — but smiles, still deciding that.
We also have created an HOUR OF FAME window where I am posting pictures of students who have completed the HOUR OF CODE (on their own time – not in the computer lab)
and a bulletin board that changes each week as the arrow of direction is added:
Since we started coding in November — I have shared to several people about the excitement and joy happening in the lab — something I have NEVER seen before….and though it is not with every single student — I can honestly say it is over 90%.
Because of coding — my students are learning:
Problem solving, cause and effect, if then then this, math skills, teamwork, independent work, being inquisitive, being triumphant, failing and learning
I have also stepped back and learned a great deal about my students -
Some are truly competitive and need recognition, some of my students need step by step directions and get confused if a step is missed, some of my quiet students are VERY VERY strong thinkers.
I and my students are also learning that SUCCESS does not always come easily or the first time — but you step back, learn from your mistakes and try again.
Hour of Code does not officially begin until December 8, 2014 — http://code.org/learn — but you can join any time and you can host it anytime. The site has created an exceptional portal for learning, resources, and a variety of coding opportunities. Plus, there are also some great apps you can download to your devices — and many are free.
You might already have your lesson plans set in stone for the week of Dec 8th — but I would urge you to step back and put those lessons off for a week — and try HOUR OF CODE — I believe with my entire heart that YOU and YOUR students will be glad that you did!
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students. Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California. Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com. I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner. Have a wonderful day!