ECMP 455

Speaking in Code

This week we were asked to experiment with code. I have very little experience coding, and was dreading the idea of typing several words, numbers, and symbols into my computer with no clear understanding of the process taking place.

Hour of Code: An Overview

It was suggested that we explore Code.org, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to expanding computer science access for all students. The site includes the Hour of Code (HOC) program, which serves as an introduction to coding. HOC includes lessons . These lessons usually have popular themes such as Geometric Art Creation, Minecraft, and Angry Birds to name a few. In each lesson, students work through several levels that gradually increase in difficulty. The lessons I chose to explore were Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code and Artist (pictured below).

Code.org themes.png
Screenshot taken from http://www.Code.org. Accessed on March 28th, 2016.

Below is a short video that demonstrates one of the tasks involved in a Star Wars HOC lesson.

I found using code symbols was less intimidating than attempting to type out html code. It was clear which symbol corresponded to which action, and dragging and dropping the symbols was actually quite enjoyable. The lessons give you the option to show the code corresponding html code associated with each symbol. This is a helpful way to ease into coding if you are a beginner.

The second video below is my attempt at the Artist HOC lesson. I found this lesson more challenging because each level contained several steps and because I was asked to loop steps and created pre-determined functions.

As you can see I struggled throughout this lesson. However, the hints were helpful and pointed me in the right direction. In both lessons the last level was open-ended. The program asked me to take what I learned and apply this knowledge creatively. I believe this feature helps to engage learners in the process of coding. It also makes lessons relevant to a learner’s unique interests and ideas.

Below is my certificate of completion. I can honestly say that I am proud of what I accomplished.

Hour of Code Star Wars.jpg

 

Why is Coding Important?

When attempting to code, one word comes to mind….Context.

I believe that in order to fully appreciate something, it is helpful to know where it came from and how it impacts our world today. For example, it makes little sense to begin a novel study on The Book of Negroes if you do not understand the setting of the story. The book would have a completely different impact if you were unaware of the historical events taking place at the time and how they impacted the events in the novel. Similarly, if you were learning about Pythagorean Theorem, it might be helpful to know who Pythagoras was and how his work impacted modern mathematics.

Adding context helps to make connections while learning, to make content relevant, and to create an engaging classroom environment. Since we are surrounded by technology in our everyday lives, it is helpful to see where this tech and our online applications originate. Hour of Code allows us to explore coding in a non-threatening way. The program is easy to use and less intimidating for those who would describe themselves as having tech anxiety. If we understand where coding comes from and how to create our own code, it may challenge our perceptions of technology and how it can be used in the classroom.

For more information on coding and the Hour of Code, check our Brea Nyhus’ post on her experience with code.

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4 thoughts on “Speaking in Code

  1. I enjoyed reading your post Tori. I could relate to a lot about what you talked about in your post based on my experience with Hour of Code this week. I like how you pointed out that using the “code symbols” is a constructive platform to learning how to type “html code”. When I first began the Hour of Code I was confused how what I was doing was considered coding, but than I realized that at the end of every puzzle I could translate the code symbols I was using to the written html form. I think this could be used in a lesson. I also like hearing your perspective on why coding is beneficial. I was struggling to understand where I would use coding in my classroom so I reached out to Twitter to gain some new perspectives. However, I like your idea about how “context helps to make connections while learning.” This is especially true in the technological era that students are growing up in. Thanks for your thoughts and congratulations on completing the Hour of Code!

  2. I completely agree that context is extremely important when attempting to code. When we were given this assignment I had a hard time seeing how it could be incorporated into a classroom, but after exploring and learning a bit about it, I have a better understanding of where it might fit. Now that you have had the opportunity to explore coding do you think you will incorporate it into a classroom?

  3. Ryan and Lydia,

    You both mentioned using Hour of Code in the classroom. First, I believe that tech integration should be authentic. I feel that sometimes teachers force tech into their lessons. There are several reasons for doing this, which is a conversation for another day. I can see HOC being used authentically in a genius hour type project. Because the program is somewhat structured, I believe it may serve as a beginners guide to coding that is helpful and that students can build off of.

    As I mentioned above, I believe HOC is straightforward and easy to use. As someone who is less familiar with coding, I felt comfortable completing the lesson. However, if a student were to choose to expand their learning through a project, I do not know how comfortable I would be trying to help or give advice.

    How comfortable would you feel incorporating HOC and (potentially) advanced coding into the classroom? We can discuss how it can be used effectively, but I believe the way we feel about coding may impact the effectiveness of programs like HOC. Do our own thoughts and feeling change to way we choose to incorporate certain programs into instruction?

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