I am writing this post a little late, but decided it was worth sharing my experience with the Hour of Code in December. The Hour of Code officially took place during the week of December 8th – 12th.
The entire purpose behind the Hour of Code was to introduce kids to computer programming and address some of the stereotypes associated with computer programming.
When I initially told my students we would be participating in this project, there were a lot of “are you kidding me?” looks on their faces, aside from the few students that were already interested in programming and build games during their Genius Hour projects. I knew it would be an uphill battle getting my students sold on the idea of coding during class. I pleaded for them to take a risk, something we’ve been discussing all year, and try to see what they can come up with. No marks, just trying something completely new out.
However, that quickly changed when I told them they could build their own Flappy Bird game or create an app that they could open up on their own phones. To kick things off I showed them the following video:
This excitement to get going on this was met with some internet issues – a number of applications not opening or just not working. For a couple of students they were able to use their own phones to access some of the activities. I even gave up my phone to a couple of students to use too.
Just as I was about to completely lose them, the internet connection pulled through and we were flying! Until that point in the year, I had not seen such a high level of engagement and interest from every student in my classroom. This was differentiation and engaging learning at it’s best (for me anyways!). Students that have a tough time getting excited about anything at school were ecstatically sharing their games and apps with classmates. Collaboration and the desire to share and work with one another quickly emerged as each student learned something “cool” that they needed to share with everyone, so they could use it.
My hour of code quickly turned into 2 hours of code. Why would I interfere in such a powerful and interesting learning experience for them?
By exploring this one hour of code in my classroom, I now have students who are making apps instead of Powerpoint presentations for their work – building their own games to play and share, instead of mindlessly playing what they download. This made me think back to President Obama’s quote during his introductory video to students for the Hour of Code:
Don’t just consume things, create things
I think that’s something we all want in our classrooms. More creating, less consuming.
Luckily, the Hour of Code tutorials and activities are still live and can be used in your classroom tomorrow if you want. There are even activities that can be done without computers and without internet access, if access to those resources is an issue in your school.
I highly recommend trying the Hour of Code with your students – you won’t regret it and your students will be super thankful. If you do, please let me know how your experience goes!