Monday, January 11, 2016

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is always an event that my students and I look forward to. This year, we were lucky to have some additional resources that allowed us to expand the coding experience past using websites like Code.Org and Tynker.

I'm very lucky to have a co-teacher that is excited to try new activities, like myself. We work very well when planning and smashing some of our ideas together to create a unique experience for our students.

As always, we began Hour of Code this year with the recent video. The kids always love looking into the world of code from the professional side, especially when it relates to the anticipated movie of Star Wars, the Force Awakens.

For this particular project, students were placed into groups of 4 or 5 depending on class size. I like to use our seating chart generator in Power School, just to really mix the members of the groups up after allowing them to pick their own groups for their previous project.

We then introduced our coding activity using a Numbers spreadsheet on the iPad. Until this year, I honestly didn't realize how convenient Numbers can be to create organized projects for students. In order to get the students a copy of the spreadsheet without having to airdrop to all individual students, we provided them a link/QR code in Edmodo that they could easily download and import into their own iPad.  We walked through each activity, reviewing directions for the stations and taking any questions that they had. We planned on using about 20 minutes per rotation.

Here are some of the stations we planned:
1. Computer Coding - we used so students could create accounts and as teachers we could see their projects. Plus, many were interested in the new Minecraft and Star Wars modules.
2. Fun with Floors - I started using Pixel Press Floors, Floors in the App Store, a few years ago. It still continues to be a student favorite allowing them to code and create their own video game with a different type of code compared to block or script.
3. Ollie's Obstacles - students had to construct an obstacle course for Ollie and then try to maneuver him through.
4. BB8 Bowling - we are lucky enough to also have a BB8 Sphero this year. Students had to use the Tickle Coding App (Warning: Don't have your students search it in the app store) and block code BB8. We taped out a given path on the carpet and students had to work together to program him. Great connection to mathematics, as they had to use angles.
5. Cup Coding - this was an unplugged activity from Continues to work on students communicating and collaborating together.
6. Bit Wars - At one of my schools, the class size is much larger, so I added a 6th rotation in using littleBits circuits where students had to create an equipment piece for a Star Wars character. This idea came from the challenge that was given on their website.

Due to winter break and school activities, this project took approximately 4 weeks to complete. Each student was responsible for documenting/reflecting on their experience through questions, fake Tweets, videos and images. Boy, did they love the robotics!

Floors Game Coding
Unplugged Cup Coding

Ollie's Obstacles
BB8 Bowling with Tickle App

For some of my self contained classes, we even tried a bit of Sphero Action Painting! I've always wanted to give it a try and the kids really enjoyed it!