Hour of Code or Computer Science Education Week was well received by the school this year. Every class from Kindergarten to 4th grade had the opportunity to work on one of Code.org’s Hour of Code tutorials during their computer lab time. This is Code.org’s third year of promoting a week of computer science education and I’ve supported them each year by introducing these tutorials to my students.
This year Minecraft and Moana were the big hits, as well as Angry Birds and Star Wars. The tutorial options are a great way to give students choice in the learning and they are so fun. Students can’t believe they can play Minecraft at school. I like the new Minecraft Designer tutorial. I felt it gave the students a peek at the code behind the game and allowed them a lot of freedom of choice and freedom to be goofy. What 8 year old wouldn’t want a chicken that lays diamonds! Meanwhile they don’t even realize how much they are learning about how to program.
I do like to see who has that algorithmic thinking skill and is able to solve the tutorial puzzles independently. For 2nd graders in general, Moana and Minecraft have pretty difficult concepts, like algorithmic planning, iteration and events (in Minecraft Designer). Some of them look to each other for help, sometimes I have to read the directions to them, sometimes I have to be Steve or the boat so they can see how it turns in place and moves forward. One 2nd grader surprised me at how easy the tutorial was for him. I called him a Coding God (they are studying Ancient Greek Gods right now). He thought that was hilarious. I hope he signs up for Code Club when he is in 4th grade.
In addition to general class Hour of Code activities, my three math enrichment classes completed their Scratch math games. That’s 27 new math games coded by 8-10 year olds. Here are the 4th graders, and 3rd graders studios. This week they played each other’s games and gave feedback in terms of Two Stars and a Wish, as I have done in the past. I love this step in the game engineering process. The students have to take the time to notice and test each game and learn to give good feedback. I’m hoping we get time to improve the games based on the feedback they receive.
I will leave the option of Hour of Code activities for the rest of December – making it Month of Coding at our school!