Today I became a coder, or so I like to think. At the least, I began to learn the basics of coding. Coding is something that I have been hearing a lot about in the so-called education world. With a simple Google Search you can find a variety of resources to assist with coding in the classroom. This edutopia website provides five different articles that can help a teacher introduce the world of coding in their classroom. A good friend and colleague of mine, Mr. David Brown, is an advocate for the benefits of teaching students code in the classroom. I’ve been fortunate enough to have conversations with David about this topic, as well as attend his session at #TreatyEdCamp in the fall where he used code to develop an entire Mine Craft world based on Batoche. However, the idea of coding in the classroom has always left me feeling uncomfortable because I would never consider myself a coder. Well, that is until today.
Today I participated in my first Hour of Code. I went in knowing nothing about this program besides seeing the odd tweet about classrooms taking part in the Hour of Code. I chose to do the Classic Maze tutorial with Mark Zuckerberg and Angry Birds. The tutorial begins with a an intriguing video that explains the benefits of learning to code. The Hour of Code I participated in included 20 puzzles. I was frustrated at the beginning because if I wanted the bird to move three times I had to drag and click three “move forward” blocks and it was time consuming. However, moving into the second stage of the game, I was taught how to repeat an action. This made the process run quicker and more effectively. I would also say that this is the benefit of the Hour of Code program. It teaches the skills in a progressive way that makes it easy for teachers and students to learn and follow. However, it does it in a way that still makes you have to think. Yes, I had a few puzzles that took me a few times to figure out.
STAGE 1: Below is the first few puzzles that I completed. The basic skills learned in these puzzles is how to move the bird forward, left, and right.
STAGE 2: As I mentioned above, I then was able to learn how to repeat a code. This way I did not have to drag five “move forward” tiles over. Instead, you can adjust the number of of times you want the code repeated.
STAGE 3: The levels continued with teaching me how to use the repeat mode until hitting a certain barrier. This was the stage where I had some difficulties. The benefit was that is caused me to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to move forward.
Stage 4: This was the final stage of my Hour of Code where you can see below how a level of difficulty was added to the coding problems. In the end I was able to successfully complete twenty puzzles.
As I reflected on my experience with Hour of Code. I also begin to ask myself why coding would be beneficial to teach in the classroom? The resources are accessible for teachers to use in their classroom. The best part is that teachers can learn alongside their students. In the same way I just completed the first stage of Hour of Code. But why is it important to teach? I reached out on Twitter and more specifically, to my friend, David, to understand his perspective.
So what did I learn? Maybe most important of all I learned that you should not limit yourself as a teacher. I always liked the idea of using Code in my classroom, but was held back due to my lack of knowledge. However, after participating in my own Hour of Code, I learned that I do not need to know everything about coding. Instead, I need to take the time to learn with the students. I need to remind myself that students can teach me as much as I can teach them. So I encourage all teachers to give the Hour of Code a try and stop limiting yourself based on your perceived lack of knowledge.