Thursday, December 11, 2014

#HourOfCode 2014

Unless you are hiding under a rock and avoiding the edtech world, you probably know that this is Hour of Code week all over the world. I've been looking forward to this week since we completed Coding Week last year.  My last few classes this week will be covered by a sub while I'm in Columbus for a conference. I thought now would be a great time to reflect on the week.

This has been a hard post for me to write, because I'm not sure I'll add much to the Hour of Code conversation. My guess is that I'm a part of the vast majority of teachers who directed students to to do the various activities. Just before I decided to scrap the post completely, I decided to just highlight some of the better moments rather than summarize every grade level like I did last year.

I really like LightBot. In this game, you need to send a little robot around a maze of blocks, moving forward, turning left or right, and jumping till he hits a blue square. Then he lights it up. The concept is easy but each level gets a bit harder. One of my 5th grade girls, asked for help on a particular stage. I gave her a hint or two then moved on. A few minutes later I sauntered by. Seeing she was on the same stage, I made a comment. "Oh, it looks like you're figuring it out." Her response? "I already solved it. I'm just trying to do it a different way." #win!

Literally minutes before my kindergarten class came to the room, I had second thoughts about directing them to Daisy the Dinosaur. I knew some of the kids could handle Daisy, but most of them don't have the reading skills yet.  I decided to download The Foos to the iPads and see if it would be good. Yes, I realize last second lesson plan switches are not necessarily good ideas. Yes, I realize kindergartners need more individual attention I was able to give them as I frantically downloaded an app to each iPad in the room, but here is the beauty of my story. Just as I directed the kids to The Foos I realized some iPads didn't have the app completely downloaded. As I was working on those, I heard students excitedly interacting with the game. "You figured it out yourself?" "Yes! It's fun!" Needless to say I introduced it to my kindergarten daughter that same night. #thankyoufoos

For better or for worse, I tend to give students few directions when starting a new app. I want them to figure it out themselves and spread the joy to others. That's why I was excited to overhear a second grader exclaim, "I love Scratch Jr! It's a lot like Educreations!" Now, I have to say I'm not exactly sure how the two apps are similar, but that's not the point. I now have a student comparing and contrasting apps, and will no doubt be messing with Scratch Jr in the future.  #score!

I'm planning on dipping into coding again next week.  With visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads, along with parties, play practice, and the like, I decided Coding Week, Part Two would be a glorious way to finish out December. I'm looking forward to seeing what great stories come from a second week of coding fun.

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