Sometimes you stumble upon things quite accidentally or unwittingly that make a huge impact in the classroom. This past week, one of those such things became stumbled upon. During our computer lab time (thanks to the aide who runs the computer lab) we have been participating in the Hour of Code, a fantastic introduction to computer coding, from Code.org.
For a total of 45 minutes, my students sat mesmerized by the computer. It was SILENT in the room as the students navigated the games on the screen, building code all the while.
Now, if you are anything like me, you probably are a bit confused right now. How on earth can 5th graders write computer code? I mean, I can barely handle the html tags that I need to know to write this blog post (did I lose anyone there? ;) ) But the the people at Code.org have actually made it really easy for the students to work with the code. On the screen, there is a little maze with Angry Birds or Plants and Zombies. The kids have to get the bird from one side of the screen to another. There are then building blocks of code which say things like "move forward 1 space" or "turn right 90 degrees". The kids then stack these on top of each other and cause the little bird to move. Since it is set up like a game, the kids get it SUPER quickly and are sucked in to the logic of it all.
As the kids get better, the games get harder. There are many different skill levels, many different grade levels, and many different themes to work with. All of these are sprinkled with videos of real life tech gurus talking about how they use code and what coding in a computer actually means. People like the creators of Instagram and Facebook all are speaking on the made for student videos.
I posted about this on my Facebook page last week and the response from others doing this was overwhelming. So many of you have had success with the Hour of Code. If you are thinking about it, I would highly recommend it...as would many of our teaching colleagues out there (as evidenced from the thread!)
Have you checked it out? What is your experience?