Code Your Own Monster

Halloween is tomorrow!  Check out this fun little activity that allows students (and teachers) to Create their own Monster with Code.

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The program offers an easy “drag and snap” option to create your code, and will point out what you can change to customize your monster.  You can see my Yeti Here!  I wanted to make my Yeti Giants colors, but I can’t believe they didn’t have Orange or Black as an option.

Keep in mind that Hour of Code is coming up December 8th!  Stay tuned for more details on how teachers can incorporate this into their classroom.

Hour of Code Success in Cupertino

As the new year has started, we are getting more and more great stories of students engaged in Hour of Code in December.  In fact, many students are inspired to continue the lessons and create new ideas.  We thought we would share a few of the stories that we’ve heard that have made Hour of Code a success.

During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), history was made when over 10 million people around the globe were recruited to join in and participate in the Hour of Code (http://code.org/). The Hour of Code is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour. Students would have the experience of writing code through a series of exercises.

At Montclair, Krissy Cabot teachers talked about her students:

I am sure this was happening at other school sites but I wanted to let you know about something cool that happened in several classrooms at Montclaire last week.  We partook in a program called “Hour of Code”. Several months ago a woman by the name of Hadi Partovi came up with a dream of having 10 million kids try one hour of computer science.  Her dream came true and over 10 million students participated.  Here is a link to a promotion video: http://code.org/.

All of our fifth grade classes at Montclaire participated on laptops we had some lower grade classes working on iPads. Parents came in to the classrooms and helped, which was great for me because I had never learned to write code so we were all learning together.  The students loved it!  The students had to use the 4 C’s to work together in pairs to write the code for the tutorial they worked on. This led to so many great conversations in my class already about jobs for them and your dreams can come true, dare to dream big.  I know it will be a building block in many conversations for the rest of the year.

Also at Montclaire, Jen Auten worked with her first graders having them program, Daisy the Dinosaur.  They then progressed to programming with Tynker, Kodable and Hopscotch on the iPad.

Kathy Young at Blue Hills had students working through the Code.org.  Several of the students were able to progress through the entire series of activities and earn a rewards card.  She reports:

We met in the computer lab to allow a 1-1 ratio of students to devices.  We watched the introductory video together and discussed the basic “howtos” of getting into the site.  We used our lab’s desktop computers.  Each student created and logged into their account.  Then they worked individually to complete as many activities as allowed in the ~30 minutes remaining.  It was probably the quietest and most-focused class we’ve ever had.  From that day, students have continued to ask to use an iPad during class time to continue their Hour of Code activities.  Many have spent many hours at home completing activities as well.

Kathy’s students feedback include:

Nimitz: Hour Of Code

Blue Hills Elementary School: Hour Of Code

Giulio: Today I will tell you why I think Hour of Code is helpful  I think Hour of Code is helpful because int he future there is probably going to be robots.  Well, you might say, if there is going to be robots, then why do we need to know how to function computers?  Well, because how do we make robots, movies, games, toys, and some machines?  We make all those by computer, and in the future, there will be eve more of those, so that means when my classmates and I grow up, all jobs will be with computers.  An Hour of Code gives you a good idea of how computers work, and you can see how they can be improved.  Well, I hope you liked my paragraph and good luck.
Amy:  Hour of Code is a very scientific game for children who like technology.  I like how the founders of Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Twitter use Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombie to teach how to program in such a fun, awesome, and fantastic way.  I would give this website 5 starts!  For the whole game, the main blocks are move forward, turn left, turn right, and the repeat block.  I learned how to make a game with a computer with just only a few lines of code.  I want to grow up to invent something electronic like a high-tech engineer as my interest from my dad as a computer science person.
Teja:  I think Code was a helpful site.  It just gave me a head start on computer coding.  Now, I can make codes, after codes, after codes!  Thnks to Code, I have a headstart on computer engineering.  Now let’s talk about what I Code.  Code’s full title is the Hour of Code.  There are mazes you have to figure out, but you have to use the blocks in the slot and you figure out the code.  Each maze gets harder and harder, but you get used to it.  I really hope you get on your computer and try the Hour of Code.  The funny trick is that you finish 20 mazes in an hour!
Keshav: Hour of Code is awesome.  It is computer science.  First, there are stages.  Each stage is different.  Whatyou need to do is that on the computer or on a laptop, you need to make the trace of the drawing or where you have to go.  Second, in Hour of Code, I learned that if you use the counter block 20-100 by 10 and inside you say that make a square and jump forward, it will create 8 squares.  My favorite part of Hour of Code was the last stage.  Now, I told what I learned from Hour of Code.

Rita Cole had her students work on the Code.org as well, and then one of her students took it a step further and created a math app for the iPad and publish it on iTunes. My-ath: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-ath/id689802288?mt=8 Download it now – its free and fun!!

Rohini Tambe from Eaton shared out some of the activities at her school including ways to teach programming without using technology.

Stocklmeir Students Coding

Stocklmeir Students Coding

Over 400 Stocklmeir Elementary students, in 17 classrooms grades 1-5, were a part of this exciting movement whose numbers to date has reached 21 million participants. Students caught on fast and excelled at the activity. Not uncommon, they were able to go far beyond the expectations of the adults involved. Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air while learning a new side to technology. The activity is hopefully just the first step on a journey to learn more about how technology works and possibly find a real passion in programming.

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Stocklmeir Students Coding

Our Hour of Code: December 9-15!

During the week of December 9-15, students all over the country will be learning how to code, thanks to an initiative from Code.org.  December 9-15 is Computer Science Education Week, so finding an hour during that week is the perfect way to enter and celebrate the world of coding.

Why coding, you ask?  There’s a bunch of reasons for why learning how to code is a valuable skill, even if you have absolutely no intention of ever becoming a software engineer.  Here I’ll  discuss a few points that I personally think make it a good reason.  I’m a little biased since I worked for many years as a software engineer but I do think it is a skill that everyone should learn, even if just once.

First of all, we’re in the heart of Silicon Valley – code is all around us and a vibrant part of our everyday lives, whether we code or not.  Code is embedded into our phones, our TVs, our cars… almost everything that requires power has code in it.  And somebody wrote that code to make it do whatever it is that it does so that we can benefit from it.  Code helps us make it easier to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

Second of all, coding teaches persistence and grit.  When the solution is within reach, it helps grow persistence to iron out bugs, work through logic, and get the program to run.  And the satisfaction is almost immediate when the program works!  

Lastly, it’s very “Common Core” to learn how to program.  Critical thinking and problem solving are essential skills, and coding is a great way to learn.  You work step by step through logic.  You make sure it makes sense.  You look for ways to break down a big problem into smaller, solvable chunks.

Getting started with coding can be easy if you have the technology available.  I started to review what’s currently available that makes coding accessible to both students and teachers.  On the iPad there are many games that make it easy for students to learn programming concepts.  My latest favorite is Light-Bot.  There is a free “Hour of Code” version that is currently available.  Students use different commands to move a robot.  It is basically a puzzle that teaches programming concepts like procedures, if-then statements, and loops.  Similar to Light-Bot is Cargo-Bot, which is also a puzzle-like app, but instead of moving around a robot you move around a robotic arm to move cargo around.

Next there’s Hopscotch, a visual programming language like MIT’s Scratch.  Students can create their own animations and games using this app.  What’s cool about this is that you can take advantage of the gyro in the iPad, so you can make things happen when you shake or tilt the iPad, or even if there is a loud noise that the iPad detects.  It also teaches how to build procedures, make conditional statements, and loops.  Whereas Light-Bot is more like a game that teaches programming concepts, Hopscotch gives students the opportunity to be creative and create their own game.  This makes it easier to embed coding into your curriculum.  For instance, if you’re teaching geometry, you could have students exploring angles when they make their objects rotate by different degrees, or you can teach them how to move objects along the coordinate plane.

My favorite kids programming language of all time is Scratch, made by the folks at MIT.  They have lots of ideas in their forum on what to do during the Hour of Code.  Kids can create their own games, animations, and stories using this graphical programming language with drag and drop blocks.  You can run Scratch through a web browser with Adobe Flash installed.  When students are finished they can upload their projects and share with others and get comments back – kind of like you can on YouTube, but with a constructive focus.

Finally, I came across this resource called LearnStreet on Edmodo.  Just in time for the holidays, you can learn how to animate your own holiday card using basic JavaScript code!  https://blog.edmodo.com/2013/11/22/webinar-help-students-code-a-holiday-card-perfect-for-all-ages/.  

Will you be coding with your classroom?  Or, do you want to, but need some help?  Let us know in the comments!