Looking forward to the #HourofCode & #HISDecoded this week, I plan to apply what I've learned recently in an excellent Houston Code.org workshop. The context of training emphasized the critical need for ALL students to have exposure and opportunities to learn computer programming. The study of computer science teaches a set of skills and develops habits of mind that can unlock doors and expand future possibilities for kids. It is foundational to so many careers and disciplines.
The world of coding also can build and strengthen critical thinking, problem-solving, and logical thinking patterns. Showing persistence in the face of failure and understanding the value of mistakes as part of learning are essential elements too.
Collaboration is key as kids work together to design animated graphics, apps, digital stories, and games. Check out these brief clips: What is Computer Science? and Pair Programming: Driver & Navigator Collaboration.
Code.org provides a free differentiated curriculum and a series of courses and tutorials for kids as early as Kindergarten to engage with learning coding concepts. ‘Plugged’ lessons are paired with ‘unplugged’ lessons. ‘Unplugged’ lessons develop foundational coding concepts and vocabulary and are applied in ‘Plugged’ lessons which are online, self-guided and self-paced.
My k-5 classes are organized inside the Code.org ‘Teacher Dashboard’ to track their work. Our #HourofCode will extend beyond this week with lessons and continued learning experiences in weeks ahead as we move forward into 2015!
There are lots of mobile apps for coding projects, but I continue to work on collecting resources that are browser-based which work well on touch-screen laptops used with my classes. Here are a few thus far…
- Scratch: [Getting Started]: Animate your name, create a holiday card, or make a pong game.
- Tynker: Build your own games and share with friends! Solve fun coding puzzles and learn programming concepts in each level. Beginner: Candy Quest
- Blockly: A series of educational games that teach programming designed for children who have not had prior experience. By the end of these games, players are ready to use conventional text-based languages.
- BotLogic: an educational puzzle game that challenges kids to tackle complex logic problems while teaching valuable programming concepts. Using simple commands (and eventually code), players program their bots to navigate through progressively challenging mazes.
- Turtle Pond: Guide a turtle to a pond using computer commands.
Code with Anna and Elsa: Use code to join Anna and Elsa as they create snowflakes and patterns as when they ice-skate. Make a winter wonderland that you can then share.
Angry Birds: Drag and drop program with basic algorithms
The Foos: A kid-friendly way to learn about computer programming. Program characters to solve puzzles and bring a virtual world to life. The game is "word free" so all can play, even pre-readers!
Making the shift to a connected classroom with a digital learning environment is a journey and a phased-in process. Support and training for teachers along the way are essential. There are a range of elements to consider -- digital citizenship, classroom management of hardware and workflow of assignments, scaffolding of information literacy skills--just to name a few. All leveraged toward the overarching goal of creating digital assignments and projects across the curriculum that are standards-aligned,collaborative, inquiry-driven and rigorous.
Working recently with middle school teachers who are developing 1:1 Chromebook classrooms throughout the upcoming year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to give an introductory training as planning gets underway to begin blending digital assignments into daily instruction. We explored features of Google Drive as a starting point and considered options for sharing assignments and organizing class workflow. Teachers saw immediately how creating and sharing Forms with and among students can become vehicles for students’ interactions with class content and assignments as well as for ongoing formative assessment. Creating a self-grading quiz with Flubaroo Drive Add-on allowed teachers to see how they could quickly provide immediate formative & summative assessment feedback to students through email (and save valuable time doing so). We walked through process of collaborative writing from pre-write to published piece in Docs while working with embedded revision history, comment features, and citations within research pane. It was inspiring work with administrators and teachers who recognize the potential in GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and how Chromebooks in their classrooms will impact how students learn and they teach!