Tales of Hour of Code 2016

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.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-7-27-21-amThis 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.

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1st grade Hour of Code activities

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.

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I will leave the option of Hour of Code activities for the rest of December – making it Month of Coding at our school!

There are so many tutorials at Code.org/learn.  I may have to try a few myself. I’ve been meaning to learn Javascript.

3rd Grade Scratch Game Makers

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The 3rd graders that have been learning Scratch really came through during Computer Science Education Week and produced 11 goofy and wonderful little math games.  Last week we took the time to reflect and give feedback.  I am really impressed with their coding and want to jot down the lessons that occurred so I can repeat this again if I get the chance.

Here’s the list of lessons:

1. Intro to Scratch (Sprite, Stage, events, move, looks) -the basics introduced, time given to explore.

2. Etch-a-sketch (more events, pen)

3. Trick or Treat (if-then-else, ask-answer)

4. Draw Your Initial (coordinate system, glide, pen)   -for this lesson I had in mind to teach the Scratch coordinate system where (0,0) is the center of the screen.  I had them pick a Sprite of their choice and code it to glide around in the shape of their first (or last) initial.  I modeled gliding in a square while they followed first.Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 9.04.32 PM

I handed out half sheets with the scratch grid on it so they could draw out their initial, figure out the coordinates then add the glide blocks.  Pen down and repeats were added at the end for extra flair.

5. Math game design outline (design sheet)

6. Math game coding (Pair programming)

7. Sharing and giving feedback

My expectation was that they’d code one math questions with two different outcomes like the Trick of Treat lesson.Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 9.32.12 PM

Only this time they were working in pairs and had to come up with their own theme and math question.  They worked on it for almost two math sessions and then I put them up on the Scratch website.

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Last week they got to play all the games and give each other feedback. One student thought they were going to get to rate the games and he declared he always gives bad ratings to online games.  Instead I handed out sheets for them to give each game “2 stars and a wish” (This is something I came across in a FutureLearn MOOC on Teaching Computing)

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Giving good feedback is actually a lot of work.  I asked them to play each game twice, one time get the math question correct and then play it again and give the wrong answer.  Then they had to find two things they liked about the game and one thing they wished it would do differently.  I enjoy this feedback part of the game making.

Oh yeah, 4th graders made math games, too. What a difference a year and a bit of Code Club does to the complexity of the games made.  They also worked on giving 2 stars and a wish feedback this week.