It was only a year ago that I participated in my first Hour of Code. I was lucky that my grade three partners were open and willing to try something new. I wrote about my experiences here. It had been such a great experience last year so now when Hour of Code came around again this year, I was ready to take things to the next level.
I introduced Hour of Code this year to my staff by taking them to the Hour of Code website. I showed them all how it was set up and how easy it would be to walk their students through the different activities for the different grade levels. All grades right from k- 6 were willing to give it a try, so Hour of Code became something my entire school participated in. I was also lucky that I had a supportive admin because I was given time out of class (being that I am a tech coach I already get some time but I was given more for this activity). I went to many of the different classes and introduced coding to the students and did activities with them.
To start off in Kindergarten and Grade one I started low tech. I talked about how they need coding to play the games they liked on their ipads and moms’ phones. I explained how coding is what makes flappy bird fly or makes Lego Batman jump and walk. We worked together on a coding activity I made where the students had to write the “code” to get Angry Bird to the Pig.
When we moved onto the Code website to work through some of the activities, the K and Gr. 1 teachers were surprised and happy to see some of the directional language they had been working on with their students – up, down, left, right came into play. With grades 2-3 again the directional language of North, South, East and West was reinforced through the different activities the students had to work through. The students needed to know these words to work through the activities which reinforced curricular objectives.
When I worked with the grade 4 – 5 students we talked about how coding is what made Steve in Minecraft break blocks down, dig for obsidian and build towers. As well, certain math concepts like angles came into play when they worked through some of the different coding activities so again students could see where what they were learning in class would be needed in other places.
When I went in and worked with the grade 6’s I explained to them that coding is a language and that those with logical, sequential mindsets, coding might be a language that they could speak very well. At this level, coding would be much more complicated and multi-step. It was amazing to talk to some of the students and find out how many were working on their own on different coding websites and activities. I talked to them, as well, about how there were students not much older than them coding apps that could be used on ipads or iphones. (many were definitely intrigued with this idea )
For me, the biggest positive about this experience was seeing the students engaged and excited. They had to be out of the box thinkers to make some of the coding activities work, they had to be problem solvers to figure out where things were going wrong in the code they had written but for many, resilience was something that came into play – they had to not give up when things went wrong, but go back to the drawing board and try again. For some this came easily, but for others it was interesting how hard it was (especially for those students who things came easily to them in other ways). I was excited to see students talking and working together, helping each other out when one got stuck. I loved seeing girls high – fiving each other about the number of lines of code they wrote. A big highlight for me was at the end of the week, one of the grade one teachers came to me with a parent note asking where this coding website the grade one’s had been working on was because her son came home so excited about how he had been coding and wanted to do more at home.
So for those of you wondering if Hour of Code is for you and your school, I cannot say enough about the positives of this experience. It is definitely something I would recommend trying, even if just on small scale to start. For me, Hour of Code was a great success and I look forward to where it goes from here.