“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hour of Code 2014

Hi! Wishing everyone the best for this new year!

Just a few weeks ago all around the world we celebrated the Hour of Code. Remember? A lot of preparation took place at my school to ensure that all our students participated during that week.

How was everyone involved?

Students in grades 1-5 spent their regularly scheduled technology class time learning to code through various activities available on the Hour of Code site. I am very thankful with the Tech teachers who were kind enough to give up a whole week of classes that would allow all students to participate. (This in fact works pretty well!) As for the teachers, they were invited to accompany their class and learn together basic coding skills.

Students in grades N-K participated in an unplugged activity. Nursery students don't even have a tech class. The other grade levels were on week B and did not have tech class at that time. Therefore, we came up with a plan to visit these classrooms and have the students pretend to program a robot.

First we explained that we were in their classroom to talk about the Hour of Code. We gave them a simple explanation that children all around the world were spending time to learn about how computers and applications worked. We made the analogy of author-book with programmer-application. It was perfect because they had just learned about authors!

We started by modeling how to follow instructions (act like a robot) and how to give the instructions (program the robot). We only used a couple of commands, the up arrow=forward, down arrow=backwards, left-turn arrow, and right-turn arrow.

Afterwards, we invited one student to program the robot. Once we thought they had understood the mechanics of the activity, we invited two students, one to become the robot and one to become the programmer. This went on several times. Finally, we asked the kids to challenge the robot: Make the robot perform a job! Now the students needed to have an end in mind and be more purposeful when giving the instructions. They could make the robot perform a simple task such as, "take this marker to the teacher that's on the other side of the carpet".

The students had a blast! And so did we! The time spent in each classroom was no longer than 15 minutes. Before we left, we gave each student a sticker as proof that they had participated in the Hour of Code.

I wonder how many kids are already considering being a programmer or developer when they grow up. That would be awesome!

Watch the following video for a glimpse of what happened that week in one of the groups.


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