In 2014, when President Obama was in office, he supported hourofcode.org. It is a non-profit that supports the celebration of Computer Science Education Week through the encouragement of kids learning to code and through the celebration and encouragement of schools teaching computer science classes. Yesterday was my 4th Hour of Code celebration, this time with 6th graders in Arlington County Public School where I teach Reading to 116 eleven year olds.
I learned about Hour of Code from my daughter. She can write code and has a Masters degree from the University of Chicago in Public Policy and Computer Science. Now she uses big data in the city of New York to help improve the public policies issued through the mayor. She made a point of telling me to remind the girls in my class that they should get good at coding because this field, her field, needs more women in it.
So yesterday, as each Mod entered my room, I told them to quickly use their iPad (APS issues every 6th grader an iPad) and go to Google Classroom Reading and click on the attached link for Hour of Code. Then I dimmed the lights and played this one minute introductory video of former President Obama welcoming us to HOUR OF CODE!
(As the video was playing, I overheard a 6th grade boy say, “Obama, we miss you.”)
Next, I told the kids to go to the activity page link I shared on their Google Classroom page and CODE! The Hour of Code website makes it so easy. I remember in 2014, there were just a few tutorial choices. I remember I chose Angry Birds and spent time programming that bird to move left and right. This year, there are too many tutorials for me to even count. The header on the page reads:
Try a one-hour tutorial designed for all ages in over 45 languages.
Join millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an Hour of Code.
You can filter the tutorials by age – All grades/Pre-Reader/Grades 2-5/Grades 6-8/Grades 9+ and by Beginner or Comfortable. You can choose a tutorial related to a subject. There is a dropdown menu to pick a tutorial created by specific company. When I clicked this, over 100 companies are listed. No wonder there are now so many choices. It seems that the computer industry is fully supporting this celebration of coding this year!
I have my students for 43 minutes. So at the 35 minute mark, I stopped them and asked them to write down on a post-it note how many lines of code they wrote (many of the tutorials keep track) or list the tutorial they tried and to complete this sentence: Coding is ______. Then I showed them the 5 minute video shared on the website entitled, What Most Schools Don’t Teach – 5 minute video
This video starts with this quote by Steve Jobs: “Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Then leaders in the computer industry and a basketball player too, share about when they started getting interested in computers and how you do NOT need to be a genius to be a computer programmer. Lots of fun images are included showing the cool work spaces of facebook, etc. Then the video ends with this quote: 1 million of the best jobs in American may go unfilled because only 1 in 4 schools teach computer science.
I told my students how lucky they are. They go to Arlington County Public School, where they are given an iPad and can choose to take computer science classes.
I collected their Exit Tickets and now my door and bulletin board look like this:
I feel lucky to teach coding using the Hour of Code resources. Because if them, I easily encouraged the reading and writing of code! Can’t wait to see where my 11 years olds will go with this skill!