There is nothing like the expression on a students face when they solve a problem or achieve a goal they have been striving for. This is one of the many reasons I was very excited and proud that Hamden Hall participated in Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code!
I presented this video
at a Technology Committee meeting earlier in the fall and we unanimously decided that participating in the Hour of Code would be an exciting experience to offer our students. After digging a little deeper and exploring the wide range of coding apps and programming options out there, we were eager to begin to organize the event across all three divisions. (I need to be honest– we were also a bit overwhelmed). Thankfully, our librarians took the bull by the horns. We scheduled a follow- up meeting, and decided that weekly library class would be the best place for our Lower School students to have a coding experience. Martha Djang, our Lower School Librarian, researched many options and decided to focus on two apps– Kodable and Cargo-Bot . Kathy McNeiece, our Head Librarian, worked on the plan for our Middle and Upper Schools. The librarians worked with the tech department to organize optional times (during lunch and study hall) in the library for students to code with Light Bot and Scratch. We got the kids excited to sign up by showing a video at assembly and by pushing out messages through OnCampus and via email. Some classroom teachers even jumped in to give it a try. There was definitely a buzz around campus and it caught on even more as the week unfolded!
I took the opportunity to utilize two days of my pre-algebra class to explore Hopscotch. We used our school set of iPads and followed along with this video:
Having had experience flipping the classroom, I know that students usually stop watching after about 7 or 8 minutes. I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this was 25 minutes. I went for it anyway… and sure enough, the kids were completely engaged and didn’t want to leave when class was over. Many students who had their own iPads downloaded the hopscotch app and completed the project that we were slated to work on the following day without being asked! I thankfully had some of these additional projects to challenge those students. We had a blast!
According to Computing in the Core
Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.
Anyone with personal experience in coding at any level can completely agree with this. And can also agree with the indescribable feeling you get when your program finally works.
So, even though the official week is over, there’s plenty of projects and ready-made lessons waiting for you. I encourage you– give coding a try — whatever discipline or grade you teach! Why would you not want to provide an authentic learning experience where students are excited, creative and collaborative?
Note: If you don’t have technology readily available in your classroom, you could even try some “unplugged” options listed on this page.
Here’s a photo gallery from our Hour of Code week!