Sunday, February 14, 2016

Coding in After School Enrichment

Coding. An instructional language for your computer. Coming to elementary schools and learners at RES and beyond!!!

Until recently the language of computer coding and it's use has been limited to experts in the field (some trained and some self trained).  I definitely age myself when I share with students how my first learned computer language was Fortran, followed by programming in C where my college final project was a computer coded, animated, snow scene!!!(And this was no simple task at the time!) Now students can build scenes and animation in minutes as they learn the building blocks of code and command sequencing from awesome programs such as Hour of Code, Scratch, Tickle, Minecraft and more.

For the last few weeks I have been working with a group of students in kindergarten through fourth grade on Thursdays after school. When I first designed this course, I knew from the beginning that we would be learning from each other.....and it has been AWESOME! The great thing about coding is from the beginning you understand that your work will grow and change as you understand more, explore, and take risks.  Students have been involved in critical and logical thinking, creativity and problem solving.  They have shown a great deal of collaboration as they hep each other (sometimes older helping younger students and sometimes vice versa!)

The first day of class students were challenged to drive me through a maze using only single commands.  They had fun making me bump into things and declare "Command Failed. Please Try Again."  For the next two classes students had the opportunity to code in a variety of ways.  Students used Scratch Jr on the iPads, and explored a number of code-able robots including: Dash from WonderWorks, Sphero, BeeBot, Cubelets and Ozobot.  Students got to witness the direct response of their inputs and commands as the robots physically reacted to their code. 

Next we moved into the computer lab where students had the option to continue coding robots or to explore Hour of Code, Scratch or Minecraft. Students moved between options as they explored, collaborated and learned.  It has been a great six week class! 

I am thankful for the support of Part 2 for organizing this class, students and families for choosing this option for an after school activity, the Vermont Robot Rodeo for including RES in their robot borrowing program, and Mrs. Redford for her support.

Please let me know if you are interested in any of the tools I have mentioned....I am happy to encourage and support continued learning!

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