Ms. Gehringer and I (Dana) swap off weeks with the 4th and 5th grades. If it’s my week, I have a 45 minute session with each of the classes. Topics vary. On the tech side of things we’ve discussed digital citizenship, creating presentations in Google, laptop care, typing assessments, and a variety of other topics.
Last week, we added to the variety by doing an “Hour of Code” on Code.org. The students programmed with the “Frozen” theme. They had to move Anna and Elsa while just using blocks of code. Of course, the programming starts out with really simple tasks, like making Anna move 100 pixels, turn right by 90 degrees, and go forward another 100 pixels.
The tasks get harder and harder. As I watched the students think through the problems, here are my observations:
- Code.org could make a great introduction to geometry. Shapes and angles in coding may help students connect mentally with what various angle sizes mean. I think it could be used as a lab of sorts in a math class.
Collaboration and peer teaching ruled the room. Some students became stumped by certain tasks. When their neighbors were successful, you would occasionally hear, “Hey! I figured it out!” or “What!? How did you do that?”
- During our exercises, I tried to limit the amount of help I directly gave the students and let them help each other out and try to solve problems together. Best of all, this happened naturally. I didn’t have to force them to collaborate; it just started happening.
- Overall, the students really seemed to enjoy the easy “drag and drop” programming style. We even had a few students that completed the 20 exercises in the roughly 30 minutes that we used for the “Hour of Code” (no, we didn’t do the full hour).
- Females and males did equally great. Females are sometimes under-looked in programming fields. This is a shame and I believe females should be encouraged to explore programming if they show some interest.
Since it may be difficult to base success on my observations, I decided to do a Google form and survey the students. Here are the results:
- 52 students, representing 51% – I really enjoyed it and want to learn more
- 26 students, representing 25.5% – I enjoyed it
- 20 students, representing 19.6% – It was ok
- 4 students, representing 3.9% – I didn’t really like it
So, that’s what I call “a big hit!”