What is coding? Why do we code? How can I teach coding? How can coding support student’s learning? Where should I start? …….
A few years ago when I found out about coding, I was asking myself the same questions. This week, I found a tweet from Niko Lewman and he shared how his school organized the hour of code.
‘I don’t know, I just played around with it.‘ That’s exactly how I thought and felt as I explored coding. That’s what I encourage the students to do. Trial and error. Play around with it …..
Why, What and How
As students develop their spatial awareness through giving directions, exploring what and how coordinate works, mapping, etc. they slowly are introduced to coding.
My second graders were wondering what coding means. I gave them the root word ‘code’. What does it mean?
- Ahh…is it like a code that you have to break?
- You use a code to solve a problem.
- Is it like a mystery code and you have to find out what it is?
- A code usually numbers and sometimes it is like a secret code and you don’t tell anyone.
Mmmm….somehow they understood how a code is used. I then explained the difference between a code as a naming word (noun) and to code as a doing word (verb).
So, what do we do if we say we code?
Many of them were silent and shrugged.
‘We code means we make codes?‘ asked a student doubtfully.
I nodded. ‘But…why do we make codes?‘
I had them recall the learning experience about giving directions when they explored a map of a community. How do we get to the supermarket? If you are at this point, how do we get to XYZ’s house?
Through this discussion, they slowly made the connection to what they do when they code.
They were excited about coding. They were introduced to pair programming and started working on the first course on code.org. Two heads are better than one. Through this learning experience, they continue developing their thinking, social, self-management and communication skills. As they were working, I listened to their conversation and observed how they discussed. I could definitely see how some IB learner profile attributes and attitudes were being displayed.
- Being a thinker on how to create the codes in order to achieve the goals.
- Being caring and communicator as they discussed (What if we put this block, will it work? I wonder what other blocks I should put, I am stuck. etc.).
- Being committed to solving the problem instead of saying ‘This is too difficult. I can’t.’
- Being a creative thinker and being able to think logically when putting the blocks.
- Being enthusiastic towards learning.
- Pair programming encourages the students to work together (cooperate), think and share their ideas.
- Being a risk-taker. ‘What if we put this block……?‘
Students are encouraged to continue exploring and developing their coding skills beyond the classroom.
Last week, one of the ‘present’ that was in our class advent calendar is the hour of code. The students enjoyed exploring Scratch Jr. and creating interactive stories.
I enjoy reading how teachers and students around the world do the hour of code on Twitter. Very inspiring and encouraging me and my students to keep on ‘playing’ and exploring coding.
‘I finish the level and got a certificate. Now I know how to code. What’s next?’
A question which came from a student who showed great interest in coding relates to the tweet from Adam Hill’s tweet. The perspectives of ‘What’s next’ from the kid’ and teacher somehow align. What’s next?