Last year, my class participated in our first Hour of Code, through Code.org®, a non-profit that I’d learned about through my school district’s initiative to encourage different aspects of computer science to my students. Technology is at the forefront of education today, and as a teacher, I feel it’s essential to expose my students to as many opportunities to explore what’s out there as possible.
Code.org® strives to create excitement and passion in diverse populations of students, and allows teachers a platform to introduce concepts to our students, that aren’t necessarily ones that we might be completely familiar with. While I do consider myself particularly computer literate, coding is something I have a very limited knowledge of, so when I had the chance to play around on Code.org® to prepare what I was going to do with my class, I have to admit, I got a bit lost in the fun!
I teach an exceptionally bright group of 4th and 5th graders – students who are in a Gifted and High Achieving program, so I knew that this was going to be right up their alley. As they progressed through the initial Block coding programs that were available, I made sure to show them how to access the actual code that they were writing, so they understood how intricate each step the characters they manipulated were. Before long, they wanted to head straight to the Java Coding side of the different adventures. It was a battle to get them to put their computers away! As a teacher, this was a total win.
When I talked about Code.org® with other teachers at my school, they said it was too bad that the younger kids couldn’t do it too. Indoor recess afforded us with the perfect chance to try out partnering my class with a 2nd grade class. Just as I had hoped, the older kids were the perfect teachers for the younger kids! While they worked mainly with the Block option, several did show the little kids what Java was about, and told them that in a few years, they’d be able to do Java just like them. It was AWESOME!
The hands-down favorite for all of the kids was Star Wars, then MineCraft. The 2nd grade girls loved being able to Code with Elsa and Anna, and my students were eager to go home and check out the Computer Science Fundamentals Courses that were available at Code.org®.
I asked the kids to grab a piece of note paper that I’d left on a back table, and write about their feelings about Coding – I love their responses:
My favorite thing about coding is how much fun you have doing it, you don’t even realize you’re learning! ~ Julissa
I liked coding because it was education and fun to learn how to work the computer. ~Shea
Coding is awesome because you can spawn characters and control them and make awesome stuff out of your codes. ~Daniel
I liked doing coding because it is like math and I like math. Coding is a way to prove to yourself that you are a smart person. ~Aja
This was an incredible experience for all of my students. Their interest in learning about how to Code was at an equal level for every single student in my class. While I have spent the first part of the school year making sure they were proficient in internet-based research, various computer programs, and how to type efficiently, Code.org® helped me to open them up to an entirely different world. I plan on continuing to work with my students to learn more about computer science now too, because you never know where we’ll find the next generation of computer geniuses!