By Sam Livingstone, Educational Technology Integration teacher
I’m new here, and I thought what better way to jump into a new position than with a big, hairy, involve everyone, goal?
A goal I set for myself this September was to have every class participate in Computer Science Week through the Hour of Code. I wanted students to consider participating in a field that commonly employs males and to give them a sense of understanding and appreciation for the work that goes into the computer programs they use. I knew it was going to be a hard one to reach and I am so excited to share that I got far closer to achieving that goal than I thought was going to be possible.
As of Monday, December 11th, we had 260 students from classes JK4 – Grade 12, along with 3 teachers, participate in the Hour of Code. We were able to have at least one student in every grade participate and I could not be more excited about the support I received from the teachers who welcomed me into the classroom to do a variety of relevant and exciting coding activities.
In JK4, Kindergarten, and Grade 1, girls were overheard squealing and giggling as they excitedly got their Beebot, a programmable robot that has the buttons on the top of the robot, to go where they wanted it to on the mat. They incorporated their coding into their numeracy and literacy assessments, directing the bot to the correct representation of numbers with ten-frames and digits or the correct letter sounds. They wore their driver glasses proudly and were so excited to share with their teacher and classmates how they were successful. They shouted the answers when asked what directions the buttons would send the Beebot, answering forward, backward, left, and right with little to no help, surprising even the teachers that they weren’t saying straight and turn!
In Grade 2 to Grade 4, students experimented with video game programming. The Grade 2’s loved programming Anna and Elsa from Frozen to skate in snowflake patterns. I was so impressed with their patience, perseverance, and the quick and effective help they gave their classmates! If one girl was stuck she’d put her hand up and ask if anyone knew how she could get it to work and someone would run right over and, rather than tell her what to do, would ask thoughtful questions and reread the question together to help the student who was stuck get there. So impressive!
The Grade 5 to 8 girls dove into text based coding, learning to code their names into rainbow bubbles that bounced when the mouse passed over them. This was a challenge for the girls as they learned about how precise text-based coding is. One misplaced semi-colon or a missing capital letter meant their code wouldn’t work. Again, the girls were incredibly supportive and so excited when they got their code to work the way it was supposed to.
The Grade 9 to 12 girls worked with a variety of coding options that gave them an appreciation for the work that goes into developing the apps, games, and websites they use. Photobooth apps with filters, video games that connected to their physics learning, and websites were created using a variety of platforms. While these girls were generally much quieter than the younger girls, they all looked happy at the end of class when their final product was complete and worked.
If you’re interested in checking out what the girls worked on, or exploring code more please check out the links below.