Last week, my students participated in a global movement called the Hour of Code. Tens of millions of students from all over the world tried coding during the week of Dec. 8th-14th. I have to admit, when I heard about the Hour of Code when it first began last year, I was both skeptical and intrigued by the idea. I knew what coding was in general terms, but I had never tried it before and I didn't know how to go about introducing it to my students. Well, this year I decided to take a leap of faith and be a learner alongside my students. I'm so proud of my students and myself, for taking a chance and also for being the first in our school to begin coding.
I started by following Code.org and #HourofCode on Twitter. I learned there were many web based tutorials and apps for learners of all ages and abilities. That was comforting! I signed up for the Hour of Code and checked out the tutorials. I chose the Play Lab tutorial because not only did it use block coding which is perfect for my first time coders, but I knew my class would love being able to create their own game at the end. They could also see the actual code hidden behind the blocks during each level of play. Code.org's curriculum is mapped to the Common Core math standards, so that's a plus too!
I have honestly never seen all of my students engaged at the same time before the Hour of Code! Some chose to work by themselves and others felt more comfortable working with a partner. They were happy to help each other if someone got stuck and celebrated when they moved to each new level. When the hour was officially over, they did not want to stop coding!
I am still running off the endorphins from the excitement over the Hour of Code. My students did an amazing job when their math and problem solving skills were really put to the test. Our first time coding was a huge success and my entire class wants to do it again soon. Of course, I'm happy to oblige! Computer Science is a foundational field for all 21st century learners and there is a strong demand for people who are trained in computer science. For me, it's all about exposing my students to new ideas. It's so much easier to do this when they're young, before stereotypes suggest it's too difficult, just for nerds, or just for boys. They're more likely to be open to taking a risk and trying something new.