Hour of Code
Map of registered Hour of Code events around the world - we could use more in Canada!
Robin and James emailed this to me.
Somehow December is almost here (how did that happen?), and so is Hour of Code. For those of you have never participated, Hour of Code is an easy way to introduce your students to coding and to see if there is a place for coding in your classroom. This year, Hour of Code is during the week of 4-10 December. Below we have laid out some options to help you plan your Hour of Code activities. Some are from the organizers of Hour of Code, and a few are from other sources.
Hour of Code’s planning guide for teachers - Includes suggestions on how to plan and manage the event along with suggested activities for students. Many activities are done independently by students, so you can offer options for differentiation.
Hour of Code Activities - This is a much broader selection of activities for students divided by age/grade level, subject, length, and complexity. Again, this lends itself easily to differentiation, though we recommend selecting a few lessons beforehand so that students don’t spend too much time wandering around looking for the ‘perfect’ activity.
We would recommend LearnToMod as an option for students who already like Minecraft (rather than as the platform for all your students) for your Hour of Code activities. Anyone not already into Minecraft may find the whole environment unfamiliar.
Scratch - Scratch is the tried and true block coding language that you can do almost anything with. A simple way to use Scratch for your Hour of Code activities is the 10 Block Challenge (or make it a 20 Block Challenge). It’s creative, fun, and allows for differentiation.
For students who are already proficient with Scratch, we recommend a challenge that requires them to build something with a given set of parameters. A good example (again, for students who are already proficient with Scratch) is to create a game of Pong. If you do something like this, don’t just give your students the tutorial; instead have them plan, build, and test before using the tutorial as a support.
A quick note about our first experience with Hour of Code
To be honest, our first experience with Hour of Code was underwhelming. The vast majority of our students were unimpressed, and the whole thing felt like one of those one-off activities that don’t really fit with anything else you do. We kept exploring coding on our own, though, and we saw how the skills that students learn through coding would benefit them in all different areas of learning.
We looked for ways that coding itself would allow students to create and to demonstrate learning in different content areas. We took the model of computational thinking and started to use it as a systematic approach to accomplishing complex tasks. Finally, we combined coding with design thinking to help students of all types (not just those who want to be coders) find solutions to the problems in their communities, their schools, and the world around them.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, and it’s worth it. If you ever need help working through that process, feel free to contact us.