So this week I once again tried something completely out of my comfort zone CODING. And a big special thank you goes out to Hour of Code for taking it easy on me. Like I have said numerous times I am not tech-savvy so coming into this challenge I was totally prepared for the worse. I have cousins literally 10 years younger than me who are obsessed with coding and all things computers. I smile and nod along like a good big cousin but HOLY I have no idea what they are saying.
When I got to the website everything about it was easing me into this idea of coding, being super user friendly. Instantly I got to choose what kind of creation I wanted to make from the base they had provided.
I chose Flappy Bird the phone app that TOOK OVER the world when I was in high school. This specific coding game was designed for grade 2 which seemed to fit just fine for my understanding. It was basic but as a first attempt, it still did take some trial and error. Once I picked it a short video played explaining the general set up and what “block coding” is. Then I got into the good stuff.
The full game was broken into 10 different steps with different lessons and games to place. After each lesson, a little congratulations popped up on the screen. Though it was super elementary it still oddly made me super excited making me think I actually achieved something.
Each lesson eased me into coding, literally taking me step by step on what each different block was going to do, and how one little change could literally make or break the entire game.
By the end, this is the code I had created for the game. I made Santa Clause fly through the city at night dodging chimneys. It was a simple victory but definitely one I took pride in. Try my version of Flappy bird at https://studio.code.org/c/1153800900 Overall this was a really interesting experience that I think I may play with a little more.
But does coding belong in the classroom?
When I was in my pre-internship I was told that one day while I was there my students were going to take part in a coding class and we were invited to try as well. I got excited about trying it but I never really got how it fits into the curriculum or what the benefits were. Because of my own lack of understanding, I did some more digging.
- Great way to get kids exciting about STEM (science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)→ kind approach to subjects many kids try to avoid or dislike
- Way to express yourself with technology creatively! → If I can get Santa Clause to fly through the night dodging chimneys, someone giving this a genuine try could really create something beautiful
One website I found particularly helpful was Common Sense Education. They provided me with a Cheat Sheet for getting started with coding, websites and apps that can be beneficial, and tips on how to get students excited about coding.
“Most people won’t grow up to become professional computer scientists or programmers, but those skills of thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively … are things that people can use no matter what they’re doing in their work lives.”
All ideas from websites linked in title “It’s not just STEM”
Language Arts/Geography: Maps and robots
- One fun way to incorporate writing with robotics is to have students sketch out a simple map and code their robot to visit different places. Students can retell a favorite story or create an entirely new one by sketching out a beginning, middle, and end on a map. No robots? Give your students a simple grid to draw a map then have your students code a character to go on an adventure using arrows to record their algorithm. Students can create and write a story to go along with their robot or character as it travels.
Language Instruction: Crete a translation dictionary
- Celebrate our students’ diverse language backgrounds and pair up your bilingual students with your English-only kiddos to program a translation dictionary. Translation dictionaries can be programmed in a simple block-based programming language like Scratch. Students can create a program for an interactive picture dictionary. Translation dictionaries are also great projects for students who are learning text-based programming languages such as Python. This would also be a great project for foreign language classes.
Social Studies: Retell a story using a comic book, storytelling.
- Students can create programs that recreate scenes from important events in history or summarize a chapter from a novel. Study and break down a timeline or sequence of events within an important moment in history, such as the American Revolution or the Timeline of Aviation. Students from third grade and up will enjoy applying their coding skills to create a comic book-style program with dialogue, changing backdrops and engaging characters to recreate history.
ELA: Choose you own adventure story
- “Conditionals” are an important concept in programming. We can apply this same concept in writing and illustrating a choose-your-own-adventure storytelling, which incorporates “if-then” and “if-then-else” sequences. Students can diagram a story with different scenarios for each choice the reader or “user” of their program makes.
- Don’t stop there! Give your students the open-ended option to use coding to showcase their learning. Choice boards are a great way to give your students options to show what they have learned throughout a unit. You will be amazed by what they can create!
Math: Create a calculator
- Having your students program their own calculator to put their mathematical understanding to the test. Challenge your students to create a program that does certain calculations or equations for you. Give them specific parameters or let them decide what they want their calculator to be able to do.