Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coding with Kids, Stacie Bell, Pirie Elementary School

This winter has marked the second year my students have participated in the Hour of Code. This program is a great way to introduce students to computer science and demystify coding. Last year, I worked with students in grades 3 and up. This year, code.org introduced a new curriculum that allowed even my Kindergarten students to participate.

Previously, I had students working on iPads to complete lessons. I found that while it worked, there were a few glitches that prevented the entire screen from being in view and, on some pages, the navigation and log out buttons were not visible. This year proved much easier using the Chromebooks giving me the confidence to try this program with a Kindergarten and Second grade class.

After completing an “Unplugged” lesson (which are paper based and meant to teach the entire class the concepts and thought processes they will need to solve problems online), I taught students how to log on. The Kindergarteners and Second graders were given a special class site to go to which had their names listed. After finding their name, they clicked on a special secret picture as their password. This was the hardest part for the Kindergarteners because most had never typed in a web address themselves before. The precision necessary along with brand new keyboarding skills (combined with a few students that had not even mastered letter identification yet) made this login process difficult, but we persevered (and I resisted typing in the addresses myself).

Once logged on, the students were able to complete several activities which taught them basic computer skills such as clicking and dragging. All of my students were then able to move onto solving puzzles and writing simple code to navigate an angry bird through a maze to get those evil pigs. The kids loved learning coding and were enthralled by the Angry Bird theme. My second graders started off working in partners and the site we used, Code.org, had a tutorial video on how two people could work together as a team. The video helped the students understand and accept their roles, which was a big help in preventing someone being too controlling.

Coding with my students proved to be a very successful activity which I hope to continue in the future, well beyond the Hour of Code that takes place in December.

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