I was so excited when the kindergarten team decided to participate in the hour of code this year. My school really encouraged and supported participation. For some classes this would be in their second time but for kinders, their first. I was very lucky that Twitter was infused with enthusiastic tweets and blogs about coding. Following many people whose expertise was the use of technology in the classroom, I felt I was ahead of the game; not in the actual implementation of coding, but in the “familiarity” of the topic. We set a day and checked out any kinks that might impede our lesson. My teaching partner and I checked out the different introductions to the hour of code from coding.org and various other sites. Our tech team and admin talked about resources and made ready our iPads with the various apps appropriate for the different grade levels. I was so ready to try this but still wasn’t sure how to introduce this to the kinders. Then as sometimes happens “good fortune” steps in and Wednesday evening as I checked Twitter I came across this
What a great ah-ha moment for me, now I knew how to introduce the concept of coding to my kinders. Thursday morning as part of our morning message we showed one of the coding video clips and then I talked to the kinders about storytelling how reading and writing was all about telling a story. Guided by the tweet from @matt_Bgomez I had three children come up to the front of the room to be the characters in my story. Our problem I told the class was to see how to get to the front door to go out to recess. There were some obstacles and I needed to come up with some solutions. I had each character (student) follow a pattern of big steps, jumps, regular steps and jumps to get to the door. If it worked, that would be the solution, the answer to the problem. My three volunteers were so excited and the entire class helped the “characters” with the sequence of the pattern. After some mishaps all made it to the door. The kinders seemed excited and ready to code. But that would happen in the afternoon. This is the time of year parents come and celebrate their winter holiday traditions (maybe another post is waiting) with the kinders. A group of parents came to share Hanukkah traditions with us and it was a delightful experience!
Our kindlers are adventurous and excited about learning. We often talk about activities and learning that is challenging and really needing time and practice to understand. As teachers, when our students see us at work, at times also struggling to learn, they begin to see that learning is a life long process.
We have fifteen children in our half group and we paired them to share the iPads. The kinders helped each other and took turns on an iPad. It was fascinating watching the different ways they approached this learning! They collaborated, problem solved and cheered each other on. This was another opportunity for the kinders to discuss, share strategies, write “code” and come up with solutions. They all started on Lightbot Jr and spent most of the time here. Some took to it so intuitively and others needed help slowing down and thinking about the steps to find the solutions. Tynker was more challenging but I was delighted to see one of our girls quickly grasp the coding here. All to quickly it was time to stop, transition to their specialist group and to start the lesson again with the other group of children (who were coming back to class from specialist). This is a busy time of year for us and we will have to wait till next week (and maybe realistically not till after winter break) to code again. We talked about using code to navigate a maze and clues for a treasure hunt. I look forward to their discoveries and sharing of their learning as they support each other with writing their “lines of code.”
Did you have a chance to participate in “Hour Of Code?” I wonder if you found it a valuable learning experience for young students? How would you approach it as the year goes on?