How can we use coding to make a different for our students?
This question resonates with me SO much! In June, I had all 9 of my media literacy classes, my grade 2/3 French early literacy class, and another grade 2 boy all experiment with coding. For the most part, we used code.org, but we also created games using Hopscotch and I had a couple students playing with Scratch.
I had one particular student that I knew would not be engaged in the activity I was doing prior to coding. So I set him up with Scratch (before I even know about code.org). He did take it a little too far and coded his cat to meow during his French class (with another teacher, not me), but by the end of June, he was coming to see me at recess just to help me figure out how to add a double jump to the game that I had coded. The Vice Principal said she has never seen this student so excited about something all year. He was even coming to see me on my prep periods to talk about coding. This has made a difference for this child! He has a learning disability and was in grade 7. It's tough, and I think he's lost a lot of drive for fear of failure. He's a class clown. His life revolves around hockey. But coding has made an impact on him! I really hope I can help continue to foster that next year.
And even something as simple as that one grade 2 student I was doing some coding with. He can't read (basic sounds are a struggle), but he wanted to spend recesses with me. So I gave him this challenge (course 1 doesn't require reading). He got it and was being successful! And it was something special that just he got to do (out of the students in his class).
I am so excited about the spark that I ignited in a large number of classes within our school last year. I am really hoping to continue building upon that in my new role as teacher librarian. I'm really hoping this will continue to give me some ideas because we CAN make a difference in our students' lives.
What a wonderful story! Thank you for making a difference and thank you for sharing. This is what teaching is all about. You actually just made me wish September was closer. I'm sure I'll wish this again as soon as my kids get up.
Two years ago we started a program called Techno Girls. We bring in 50 grade 7/8 girls from a variety of schools and they get to meet female coders and we have female high school students that teach them coding using TouchDevelop and App Inventor. The students then spend time planning how they will run the hour of code in their schools. We ran the program again and plan to do it next year as well.
That sounds amazing! I wonder...I wonder....would love to hear more! Are you on Twitter?
Twitter is @ianmct I am also presenting at the CEMC conference in Waterloo this August and the Techno Girls program will be covered. Happy to run the program in other boards if people can get funding to cover the costs.
The program started as a student project and I have been lucky to have some great students that help run it.
Thanks Ian..I just followed you. I have so much to learn - just getting into Arduino and Lilypad now (I have to move in baby steps). Very glad to connect.
Unit 3 - Arduino - Mr. McTavish.ca here is a link to what I teach my ICS3C class with Arduino. Sayal electronics is a great store to buy from although when ordering I use BCRobotics -I put together kits in our library for sign out: arduino, half size breadboard, wires, led lights. Adding buttons, rgb lights, potentiometers and piezo buzzers in September. Each kit has a photograph of a circuit diagram and a photograph with the code.
In my class I have 7 kits with all the above and we work in groups. Each year adding more sensors and kits.
Jackpot . Sayal Electronics in Burlington is five min from my home ... I've not used BCRobotics but will check them out. Putting them in the learning commons is a great idea - do they get checked out often?
They have been checked out - not many repeat checkouts as I found out students ended up buying their own after they tried it!
Ah yes...CEMC ... I am familiar with the "Problem of the Week" and of course the Gauss Math contest but I've never really explored the website. So many amazing resources. Again, many thanks. CEMC
I've not explored TouchDevelop - thanks. I will try now - I'll also link it to the coding module.
That is an awesome project! Very interesting!
I'm a U of T student; last year, U of T had a record breaking enrolment of first year female students entering into engineering at only 30%, higher than any other Ontario University. Studies have shown that young girls are more likely to opt out of math and science classes than boys, less likely to enrol is STEM related programs and careers. As a female with science and math teachables, I think I could use coding in my classroom to encourage girls who may be interested in engineering and computer science to start to exploring components of these fields; help them to build their confidence, knowledge and skills in coding and maybe realize it's something they'd like to continue to pursue.
Coding is great because you never know who will be successful. When I have had students do coding I can't predict who will excel and who will struggle. I have worked with Code Studio and many of the activities are associated with Measurement and Geometry. Students who have done well with paper and pencil in these strands have struggled applying these skills to coding and vice versa. It also encourages students to keep thinking. For early finishers they can try to code in fewer steps.
Students also benefit from learning that coding plays a role beyond video games. Code Studio has videos that discuss the role of coding in medical equipment.
thanks for the tip. Looks great! I've had a range of experiences with middle school students. Some individuals really embraced it and will likely pursue it academically or as a business interest in the future. Could you send me any links/lessons you've used to teach/consolidate/explore math strands/concepts.
Surprisingly for middle school students one of the best activities from Code Studio is the Frozen activity. It's appropriate for middle school because students need to use angles and degrees to complete the activities. It's fun watching students stand up and turn their heads to better view the angles. Some even lift up the monitors and turn them to get a better perspective.
This year some of our grades participated in the Hour of coding and it was amazing to see how many students were engaged especially a couple of our boys in grade six and seven. They're hour of coding went longer than an hour because of their engagement. I really liked the links provided in the module and while watching the minds on video my own son who was sitting beside me asked if I was going to download that and we tried a bit of combatcode.com for a bit. I can see this being used as a club just like our Minecraft Reconciliation club.
My grade 3 class’s first encounter with coding was when we went to UofT to their InnovateU event. Students learned how to code a game on https://studio.code.org/. I was surprised to see that even students who were on modified IEP were able to pass so many levels to code a game with very little help. They took it as a challenge. This gave me courage to introduce Scratch Jr in our classroom. We used it to explain the life cycle of plants. I was amazed to see how quick the students learned coding and was able to use it for a presentation in Science unit. They were all engaged and enthusiastic for this type of learning. We also explored and worked on We Do Lego robotics and were planning to use scratch 2.0 but because of EQAO and then end of the year we had to just stop at Scratch Jr. It was great to see them so focused, learning and practicing problem solving skills and developing self-confidence. Coding for sure helps to develop many of the skills our students need for the 21st Century learning. In the upcoming year, if time permits I am hoping to run a Robotics club with two of my other colleagues for intermediate grades and participate in FLL competition.
I've wanted to try coding and did a little a couple of years ago with code.org. It really was a lot easier than I thought, especially because my lack of knowledge and expertise didn't matter at all. The students took off with it. This past year I used Scratch Jr with the primary students and they LOVED it. I found the app super easy because they give you the video guides and step by step plans and print outs. Part of the success this year was probably due to the fact that we spent some time on coding without technology. The few lessons were learning about what coding is and what it does, then in partners the students coded each other. We even had the principal visit and some of the students coded him. After that, we used lego mini figures (go figure) on a carpet I have that is in a grid. Together we went through the steps of coding the figures on the carpet, then the students did this again on their own and had a partner follow their code moving the mini figure. I think this basic understanding/background knowledge was really helpful before jumping right into a website or app. So much learning! Even grade one students for sure grasped their left and right quickly!
I haven't done coding with students yet, but have explored the basics of the Makey Makey with students - no integration with Scratch yet. We just received our Makey-Makey in May, and had lots of fun experimenting with it. Students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 used the set up area using the material of the week (playdoh, toy cars, pencil lead, aluminum foil) to connect to the Makey Makey Piano or Makey Makey Tetris and play. The older kids in Grades 4-8 made their own game controllers using a variety of materials provided. The interesting thing was that it was often the normally less engaged students who got the most excited about this. They spent countless recesses perfecting their creations and experimenting. So, I hope that when I introduce coding in the fall, they will be even more engaged!
I'm interested in trying the Makey Makey Go (smaller and less expensive). Thanks for sharing - I always appreciate what is happening in other makerspaces.
I must admit that I am a newbie when it comes to coding. I integrated a coding centre in the library this past year as part of our makerspace. I also had teachers asking to collaborate and work together with students to complete the Hour of Code.
I also had students experimenting with Ozobots and coding using paper and markers. I love these robots. It shows students that one doesn't always need a computer to code. This was a great activity to introduce students to coding.
I hope to explore more complex programs like Scratch in the coming year. I need to find students to teach me!
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