The week of December 8-12, 2014 allowed my students and I to enjoy far more than just a simple Hour of Code. In fact, I think I may have sparked an entirely new language within our classroom walls. As the leader of Emma K. Doub Elementary's after school Frisbee-Coding club, (what in the world is Frisbee-Coding Club?) I wanted to organize the Hour of Code with all 300 students that attend EKD. After sending a few emails, creating some screencasts, and gaining the support of my Principal and Lead Teacher, the Hour of Code was underway. By Tuesday more than half of the students (grades 1-5) in the school had participated. I created a Google Form for teachers to request the assistance of students I dubbed “Eagle Coders.” These students consisted of 4th and 5th graders who are a part of my after school club. They worked side-by-side to introduce students and teachers to web based games that code.org offered as well as apps like Lightbot, Cargobot, Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch and so much more.
Although many 5th graders enjoyed the scaffolded coding that Lightbot offered, the complex coding game Hopscotch became an all-time favorite for the students in my 1:1 iPad classroom. By the middle of the week many students had requested to take their iPads home, a new routine that several of the upper grade level classes at EKD are trialling. Students returned to school bragging about the Hour of Code challenges they completed on Hopscotch, as well as some of the games they designed on their own. By Friday, students from various grade levels were sharing original Hopscotch creations with one another. In fact, 4th grade magnet teacher Nina Wolfe, created a coding assessment that tied into her unit on Greek Mythology. These students were required to use Hopscotch to create a game that demonstrated an understanding of certain aspects within Greek Mythology.
My students enjoyed various lessons that connected our 5th grade magnet curriculum to coding as well. We began on some new challenges with the Lego EV3 Windstorm Robots that enriched 5th grade geometry standards. I co-taught this Quadrilateral Lesson with Mrs. Fochtman, the enrichment teacher. Our classes collaborated together to understand function tables, area measurement, and the attributes of a quadrilateral. This lesson also provided a perfect segue way for me to introduce the concept of metacognition.
After spending a solid 35 minutes programming the Lego Windstorms in small groups, students were encouraged to think about their thinking. The Metacognition/ Metacomprehension graphic organizer I created allowed students to organize their thoughts as they reflected on the challenges of coding a working robot. The students began to recognize how this particular task, as well as other coding challenges, required various types of thinking. Ultimately, the students began to reap the benefits of consciously bringing their “mental-movie of thoughts” to the surface.
The Hour of Code may be over for most of the approximate 70 million students that participated world wide. But the students in my 5th Grade University want more. Just like Mojang’s new MinecraftEdu has made its way into the classroom with Common Core other curriculum aligned lessons, I firmly believe coding has a place too. I am now determined to continue to find ways to integrate coding activities and challenges into my lesson and unit plans. I hope to present at the Common Ground 2015 conference with a session titled “Coding the Common Core.” I encourage you to keep checking my blog, twitter, and Google plus sites for more details. Until then, I hope to catch you on Tuesday nights at 8 PM EST as teachers like myself instill the faith that #KidsCanCode!
Check out the video below to see how AWESOME the Hour of Code was for Emma K. Doub Elementary students!