Hour of Confusion?

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Majority of the time, I find myself in agreement with others that coding is pretty much over our heads.  Personally, I have had little experience in how programming and coding works, and therefore I have found it difficult to include it in my teaching.  However, during internship, I introduced my grade 6 and 7 students to Scratch,  a website designed to allow “young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.”  Students can create their own games, animations, stories, and/or explore creations made by others.  I had previously explored Scratch and had attempted to code my own animation as part of ECMP 355, but I still felt pretty anxious regarding how to bring it into the classroom.  I approached a group of students that I felt would be interested and engaged in exploring what Scratch has to offer, and I am glad I did.  Until the end of my internship, they continuously wanted to be working on their coding creations during any spare minute they had.  I loved seeing the genuine enjoyment and love for the experience when they were coding.  I eventually decided to introduce the website to the whole class and was surprised to see that majority of the students were excited about it.

But still, why does the idea of teaching coding bring up such anxiety and/or lack of comfortability?  

  • Lydia found Hour of Code to be a great tool for learning the process of coding, but is still unsure of the benefit of bringing it into classrooms at the secondary level
  • Matthew states he was anxious just thinking about exploring the process on his own
  • Rheanne has a great post on the potential for integrating coding into teaching and recommended a great tool called Sphero, but she also states that she initially had little desire to learn about coding.
  • Brea offers some great points regarding the potential mistakes teachers can make – don’t just teach code for the sake of teaching code, there needs to be some focus on how it can benefit student learning and experience.  Although I agree with this, I think this perspective could make teachers avoid it completely due to a lack of knowledge and/or experience.

One option of helping to alleviate stress and anxiety related to understanding the basics of coding is to participate in the Hour of Code

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Screenshot – I decided to do the Hour of Code, Minecraft style

Hour of Code simplifies basic coding practices and anyone would be able to participate in the experience.  I found it beneficial in furthering my understanding of basic coding principles, and although I found that many times I actually coded more lines than were needed (i.e. 11/9 lines of code), I still completed each step.  Take a look at my screencast showing the final step of the hour.

Do you think Hour of Code has made you feel more comfortable with teaching coding?  Are you still unsure of the benefits?  Tell me what you think.

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9 thoughts on “Hour of Confusion?

  1. I definitely feel that Hour of Code exercise made me more comfortable with the idea of coding and is a great tool for easing the idea to students who have zero experience. I was wondering how you incorporated Scratch into your gr. 6/7 classes? Did you integrate it into several subjects or did you set time aside during a specific class?

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    • I honestly feel like I didn’t really know how/what to do with Scratch, so I decided to approach a few of my students one day just to show them the website and see if they would find it interesting. They couldn’t get enough of it and wanted to spend every spare minute creating animations and games. I then decided to set aside one hour to let the whole classroom explore the site and see if they liked it or not. I didn’t want to push the idea on them and I honestly was just curious of how it would work (I tried to experiment with different things during internship). For the future, I am still unsure of how I would use it regarding curricular outcomes but I think there is potential in many areas such as with English Language Arts, expression of identity, Arts Education, etc. Thanks for your response!

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  2. I love that you introduced Scratch to your students. I think anytime you can offer a program that not only extends their learning but is also fun for them you are creating a much more productive learning environment. Was there any hesitation from students about using Scratch?

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    • Thanks for your response Lydia! Majority of the grade 6/7s had fun with the idea of Scratch and I was surprised with what they created when playing around on the site. I only had a select few students (maybe 3 or 4) that didn’t particularly like the idea and weren’t really engaged with the concept. Because I didn’t set aside a ton of time to experiment with it, I would plan this more thoroughly in the future as a way of gaining the interest of all students and utilize the tool in an effective way.

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  3. Marissa,

    I encourage you to take a glance at the comments Ryan and Lydia left on my most recent post. I believe their insightful comments will generate discussion among our peers over the next couple of days. (Here is the link! https://goo.gl/ML1Pqm)

    I was dreading this task before I started it. However, I found Hour of Code so intriguing that I actually completed two different sessions. I like how the last level of the program often asks students to use what they learned to create their own game or graphic. While it is important to teach coding, it is also important to highlight the idea that coding is a creative endeavor. Too often we associate anything involving numbers or computer science to be rigid and predetermined. I believe Hour of Code is a great way to break down these preconceived notions. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts! I would also love to hear if you liked Scratch or Hour of Code better!

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    • Yes, I completely agree! I really enjoyed the fact that you could play around and be creative at the end of Hour of Code. It can definitely serve as an outlet for creative expression. I honestly can’t say I have an answer regarding if I like Hour of Code or Scratch better. I found Scratch to be super user-friendly and suitable for beginners, but I like that Hour of Code has different versions to explore such as “Frozen” or Minecraft. I think this can help appeal to a variety of student interests and personalities.

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  4. Hey Marissa,

    First off I have to say great blog post, I especially like how you incorporated multiple opinions from fellow ECMP 455 students. With this being said I find myself in the same boat as you with being rather uncomfortable with coding. I have always seen the benefits of coding in the classroom, felt that I lacked the experience to integrate it into my lessons. This leads me to the advancements I made throughout my Hour of Code. In that small amount of time I felt like I could easily take make the first steps to bringing coding into my classroom and showing students this great activity/learning experience.

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  5. Pingback: Contribution to the Learning of Others – "T"…as in "Teacher"

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