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December 16, 2015

Computer Coding Takeaways

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    The concept of computer coding continues to grow as a valuable skill that students can use now as they grow as learners and in the future for lucrative employment. According to the website Code.org, there are 604,689 open computing jobs currently open nationwide. 

    In her post "Teaching Code in 2015," Top Teaching blogger Christy Crawford goes into great detail about the Hour of Code and how you can get involved. The website describes it in a nutshell: "The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics." The Hour of Code started December 7, although the concept of coding can be made available to your students throughout the school year. Read on to find a few tips and tricks to use with your class when it comes to coding at school.

    What are some baby steps you might want to try first?

     

    Start With an Explanation

    I introduce the idea of coding to my class by telling them that I am a computer that needs to be coded. I tell students that in order for me to do anything, they will need to give me a command. This is a fun way to introduce the concept because students do not realize how specific they have to be. I start by the door of our classroom and ask students to raise their hand to give me a command. Some examples they used were, “Turn on the lights” I share with students that “I can’t turn on the lights until you give me a command which tells me to go.” They might say, “walk” to which I would respond with “Which direction? How many steps?” The purpose of this activity is to show students that coding is a language. It requires highly specific instructions to achieve the results you desire.

     

    Turn it Into a Physical Game

    Another activity that we do is a coding game where students are trying to capture the “jewel” by programming a coded path for their partner or team.

     

    • Rearrange your room so that tables and chairs can be used as a maze-like layout.

    • Put a “jewel” (scarf, towel, piece of paper, small ball, etc.) in a designated spot in your room.

    • Create teams of three to four students.

    • Designate a starting place for each team.

    • Go over the coding language students can use.

    • Model what each command will look like e.g., forward is one step forward, not a leap or hop. (Have the kids practice first.)

    • Each team has to work together to write code for one student to follow and make it to the “jewel."

    • The next challenge for students is to write the code to bring their “robot” teammate back.

    Students work together as they learn that it’s not as easy as it seems. Students also learn the value of perseverance as it takes many tries to make it to the jewel!

     

    Reflect and Find a Passion

    At the end of the day, week, or coding opportunity you’ve decided to offer students, it’s important to remember that coding doesn’t have to be for everyone. It’s very possible that you as the teacher struggle with the online Hour of Code site. That’s a great moment! Let your kids see how you work through it. Let them teach you what they learned from doing it. Learning to code and understand programming is a skill set. It is a knowledge base that will continue to grow. It doesn’t have to be every single student's choice of preferred learning, but you want to offer them the chance to figure that out on their own.

     

    I wrap up our week of coding with these reflection points:

    • Tell me your thoughts on your week of coding.

    • What did you learn?

    • What frustrated you?

    • What are you taking away from the experience?

    I discuss these thinking points with the class and point out the fact that many of us have tried something new and our reflection time gives us a moment to decide what to do with that new learning in our brain. I connect back to growth mindset discussions where we talk about neurons making connections and how they grow stronger the more you use them. Many students feel like they want that neuron to grow and others decide that coding is not their thing. When they do, I remind them that there are many, many more connections that their brain can make. Learning happens everywhere!

    How do you incorporate the introduction of coding to your students? I’d love to hear from you!

    Thank you for reading, and as a way to show my appreciation, for family, friends, and readers of the Top Teaching blog, here is a 25 percent discount you can use at The Scholastic Store!

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    The concept of computer coding continues to grow as a valuable skill that students can use now as they grow as learners and in the future for lucrative employment. According to the website Code.org, there are 604,689 open computing jobs currently open nationwide. 

    In her post "Teaching Code in 2015," Top Teaching blogger Christy Crawford goes into great detail about the Hour of Code and how you can get involved. The website describes it in a nutshell: "The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics." The Hour of Code started December 7, although the concept of coding can be made available to your students throughout the school year. Read on to find a few tips and tricks to use with your class when it comes to coding at school.

    What are some baby steps you might want to try first?

     

    Start With an Explanation

    I introduce the idea of coding to my class by telling them that I am a computer that needs to be coded. I tell students that in order for me to do anything, they will need to give me a command. This is a fun way to introduce the concept because students do not realize how specific they have to be. I start by the door of our classroom and ask students to raise their hand to give me a command. Some examples they used were, “Turn on the lights” I share with students that “I can’t turn on the lights until you give me a command which tells me to go.” They might say, “walk” to which I would respond with “Which direction? How many steps?” The purpose of this activity is to show students that coding is a language. It requires highly specific instructions to achieve the results you desire.

     

    Turn it Into a Physical Game

    Another activity that we do is a coding game where students are trying to capture the “jewel” by programming a coded path for their partner or team.

     

    • Rearrange your room so that tables and chairs can be used as a maze-like layout.

    • Put a “jewel” (scarf, towel, piece of paper, small ball, etc.) in a designated spot in your room.

    • Create teams of three to four students.

    • Designate a starting place for each team.

    • Go over the coding language students can use.

    • Model what each command will look like e.g., forward is one step forward, not a leap or hop. (Have the kids practice first.)

    • Each team has to work together to write code for one student to follow and make it to the “jewel."

    • The next challenge for students is to write the code to bring their “robot” teammate back.

    Students work together as they learn that it’s not as easy as it seems. Students also learn the value of perseverance as it takes many tries to make it to the jewel!

     

    Reflect and Find a Passion

    At the end of the day, week, or coding opportunity you’ve decided to offer students, it’s important to remember that coding doesn’t have to be for everyone. It’s very possible that you as the teacher struggle with the online Hour of Code site. That’s a great moment! Let your kids see how you work through it. Let them teach you what they learned from doing it. Learning to code and understand programming is a skill set. It is a knowledge base that will continue to grow. It doesn’t have to be every single student's choice of preferred learning, but you want to offer them the chance to figure that out on their own.

     

    I wrap up our week of coding with these reflection points:

    • Tell me your thoughts on your week of coding.

    • What did you learn?

    • What frustrated you?

    • What are you taking away from the experience?

    I discuss these thinking points with the class and point out the fact that many of us have tried something new and our reflection time gives us a moment to decide what to do with that new learning in our brain. I connect back to growth mindset discussions where we talk about neurons making connections and how they grow stronger the more you use them. Many students feel like they want that neuron to grow and others decide that coding is not their thing. When they do, I remind them that there are many, many more connections that their brain can make. Learning happens everywhere!

    How do you incorporate the introduction of coding to your students? I’d love to hear from you!

    Thank you for reading, and as a way to show my appreciation, for family, friends, and readers of the Top Teaching blog, here is a 25 percent discount you can use at The Scholastic Store!

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

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