December 7-13 marked the week of Hour of Code. This was not just a school event, a state event, or even a USA event. This was a world-wide event. Just on Code.org alone, almost 200,000 Hour of Code events took place. That doesn't even involve those that were not using Code.org or that didn't register their events.
What is "code"?
Coding in the introduction to computer sciences. All computers in the world, everything from laptops, apps, phones to washing machines, alarm clocks, and stoves have to run some sort of code. Code is written for alarm clocks to know to beep at a certain time, code is used to tell a washer how warm to make the water on a given setting, it is used to tell the Flappy Bird what to do when it hits one of those annoying pipes.
Why do kids need to code?
Computer science is a growing career field. The demand for people who can code has grown larger than the number of people out there that can actually do it. We need more students to learn these skills to meet the demand for careers. 65% of students entering elementary will hold jobs after high school that don't even exist yet, according to Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.
Coding also fosters critical-thinking, problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity. Students are asked to solve problems and think about the outcomes of a code they put together. Many students love the idea of learning something that can create a video game they love to play or an app they use on their device. It is engaging and exciting for them to do something outside the box.
How did our kids do?
A few students in first grade coded in PRIDE and loved it. Two third grade classes participated and the outcome was very positive. There were some students that struggled in the general classroom, that thrived when they were able to do this. Other students praised them and they got to feel on top of the world for an hour of their day. A large portion of the 7th and 8th grade also coded. It was amazing to watch and listen to them. Some students spoke with me about being interested in pursuing degrees and careers in computer science. Other students had never done this before and after the hour was up, they asked if they could participate when they went home. A freshmen English class took part, and although at first they weren't sure about it, by the end many of them were excited to print their certificates and actually ended up enjoying it.
In January, look for a presentation that includes feedback from students, teachers, and parents. I can't wait to share their words with you! And yes, I have had parents stop and comment about how excited their kids were when they came home. Just a little food for thought!
Sneak Peek at Hallsville's Hour of Code
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom