This week both code clubs did the same project – Code Club World’s Chatbot. I like this one because it is not a game and students can be very creative at asking questions for the user to answer. My goal was for them to learn about 1) user input, 2) if-then-else and 3) operators. That’s a lot. At a minimum, I think most everyone was able to use the “ask and answer” blocks, the “join” block and try one “if-then-else” block.
Some were able to add animations at the end which I thought was pretty cool. Some went back to their previous maze game and added some talking. Also cool.
Thursday’s club figured out that if the answer is not typed exactly, then the “else” clause runs. So if the user types “sure” instead of “yes” the program will think it is wrong. One student had an extra space in the operator clause, as in answer = “yes “. That bug took a bit to fix. Another student was looking for a really big number:
One of the tricky parts to this lesson is a defining variable and setting the answer to it. The students can follow the directions, but I don’t know that they understand why they are doing that or what it going on. I have to remember these are pre-pre-algebra students. Still, they will most likely want to keep track of a score or timer, so for now, they will try it and later we will come back to this concept when they need it in their projects.
While I love the creativity and extensions this project allows for, you do have to set expectations for appropriateness. I had to ask a few students to change their responses to the questions. I like to go around and test out their programs, putting my name in as the answer to “What’s your name?”. When the response is “That’s a dumb name” or something equally as inappropriate, I get a bit disappointed and tell them to change it to something appropriate. One student responded, “I didn’t think you’d play the game.” He obviously knew he was being inappropriate but was, at least, embarrassed by it.