I think it was three years ago that I signed my classes up for the first time to participate in the Hour of Code. I was determined that year that every grade level I met with during the week (gifted students, 1st-5th) would participate. I’m one of those people who jumps into things without knowing enough to be scared – which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the occasion. In this situation it worked out great. We tried all kinds of programming I have never done before, and we have experimented with many more ever since. There were lots of moments of frustration, but many more moments of excitement.
I don’t have enough knowledge to claim that I am an expert on any of the programming languages. But I am known in some circles as a “techie,” so no one believes me when I say that you can participate in Hour of Code even if you have never coded in your life. When our entire school took the plunge a couple of years ago, there was a lot of trepidation. After that one experience, however, few people blinked an eye about doing it the following year. In fact, many teachers waved off any offers of help from the community or skilled students because they knew that Code.org does an excellent job providing resources for all ability levels.
One of my students once said, “Mrs. Eichholz doesn’t let us use technology. She lets us create with it.” And that is why I love giving students the opportunity to learn how to code. Coding incorporates everything I believe in: collaboration, problem-solving, communication, perseverance, growth mindset, and creativity. Not every student loves it, but every student learns from it and feels empowered with the knowledge.
If you have never participated in Hour of Code before, I am asking you to try it this year. As I often say during presentations, your students are actually at an advantage if you don’t know a lot – because you won’t help them too much. From classrooms equipped with 1-to-1 technology to those that have zero computers, Code.org has you covered with tutorials and resources. And, if you have participated before, note that Code.org has been busy adding new activities so your students can build on what they have already learned.
Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11, 2016, is next week. Hopefully, you can participate in your Hour of Code then. If not, the resources are always available and great to use any time of the year.
Here is a link to my Programming for Kids Pinterest Board for more ideas to bring coding into your classroom.