Once December arrives, there is an animated buzz in our building. We are all excited about the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. We wonder if there will be a long winter season, which means possible snow days. Winter Break is so close, the teachers can feel the relaxation. In spite of this buzz, we still need to teach the curriculum to our students. That is why I love the Hour of Code.
The Hour of Code, sponsored by Code.org, happens during the Computer Science Education Week. This year it is December 7 to December 13, 2015. For the past two years, I have sponsored the Hour of Code with parents for the entire school. Last year I was extremely proud and gratified to see 384 students participate in this worldwide event. Over two and a half days, students in grades 1 through 5, including our special needs classrooms, spent an hour coding with the visual programming platforms, Scratch and Tynker.
Coding for Every Student
What was fascinating was that every student entered the gym on the same “leveled playing field” and succeeded at the task of coding. Every student regardless of Guided Reading Level, math ability or modifications succeeded with the day’s computer programming tasks. Throughout this event, you saw students using the visual block format to solve puzzles and to design pictures and games. You also heard the students working with their partners and sharing ideas.
This year our school offered a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) program after school for six sessions. I was one of three teachers to offer the coding curriculum designed by Code.org. I taught and mentored first and second-grade coders. Our goal this year is to have individual classroom teachers present the Hour of Code to their students.
Where do I Begin?
You can start by visiting Code.org. The organization has done a fabulous job in making computer coding accessible to everyone. Scratch and Tynker are available online through their Hour of Code and Beyond One Hour pages. This year they have added Minecraft and Star Wars coding activities. The best part about Code.org: you can access the coding exercises on computers and tablets.
Tynker, Kodable, and Lightbot are available for Tablets. Kodable is a great first coding app for young kids. Lightbot is for older kids. You can download the Scratch editor for your Mac or PC computer. Make the Hour of Code part of your classroom curriculum!
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