For this summer's enrichment program, I decided to bring coding to students in our district. After having tried the Hour of Code in December with my gifted classes, I felt there was a need to keep spreading computer science to our elementary students. I wasn't surprised to find out that a majority of them have never tried coding or any type of programming as this is the case for most schools in the U.S.
Code.org: An OverviewDuring our 4 week program, my goal was for our 3rd to 7th grade students to not only do an hour of code but try different tutorials offered by the amazing site, code.org. These folks have done a wonderful job of providing different tutorials and mini courses that break down the concepts of programming for beginners. They even offer video tutorials with tips and testimonials from people in Computer Science and those who have dabbled with it. What's even more is that these "faces" represent diverse and relevant folks in the field of technology. And that to me deserves praise.
My CourseHere is a break down of my course, where I saw each group of students twice a week for 30 minutes. My time was limited so we needed a structure where I gave students minimal guidance and focused more time on exploring.
Because I did not create an account for each student in the program, I had them track their progress and reflect on our Tech Time Log instead. Below are a few samples.
Click here for a Tech Time template.
Week 1: Introduction to Pair Programming/Angry Birds
- I showed the video on Pair Programming and established guidelines for collaboration and problem solving. I also stressed that I would not figure anything out for students because it was their responsibility to problem solve.
- Students started the Angry Birds Tutorial and had the option of completing levels at home for the remainder of the week.
*Note: If students struggled with certain levels/concepts, I showed the brief videos to review those concepts that were included in the tutorial. For example, the If/Else Blocks in the Angry Birds (Zombie Levels) were an issue with my lower grades.
Week 2: Frozen
- I showed the Intro video for Frozen and reiterated the guidelines for collaboration and problem solving.
- Students started the Frozen tutorial and had the option of completing levels at home for the remainder of the week.
- Assessment: When students expressed that they completed either Angry Birds or Frozen, they got their own computer and completed the last level on their own. The indicator would usually be that they complete that level without any problems. I would indicate completion on their Tech Time Log at this point.
At this level I was able to differentiate for my learners.
- Beginners: Students continued working on their Angry Birds and Frozen tutorials. They then moved on to Flappy Bird and Play lab for the rest of the week.
- Intermediate Learners/Advanced Learners: Intro to Flappy Bird/Play Lab. Students worked on these for the week.
- Advanced: After completing Flappy Bird/Play Lab, students could try Khan Academy Tutorial with their own computer!
- Coders Club!- Those students who have finished Angry Birds or Frozen (or both!) received a Certificate of Completion and were enrolled in Course 2 on code.org.
Week 4: Explore!
- Students will be able to continue their learning path (see above) and explore other sites such as Scratch.
Overall, our students truly enjoyed working through the courses and were very excited to be included in the Coders Club! This resource is a fantastic way to introduce students who have had minimal to no experience coding. Of course, you can extend the activities and try other programs such as Scratch. Next year, I hope to continue coding and find other ways to integrate literacy and creative writing now that our students have learned the foundations of computer programming. Stay tuned!