You might remember that I’ve been exploring computer programming (or coding) with my young students. You can go back here and here to see our early attempts. The basic idea is clear…you write code to make your electronic device do something. At first, ANY something was fun. And then we all learned to make a specific something (square and triangle).
Today we asked students to make a plan for their code and then carry it out. They drew a quick sketch (we reminded them to keep it simple and to use what they already knew about squares and triangles to get started) in their notebook and then move to Hopscotch on the iPad to carry it out.
I showed them how I had gone home and figured out how to write my very simple name with straight lines and angles similar to those we had used to make our squares and triangles.
What I’ve learned is that not all students take to coding equally…and that doesn’t surprise me. Some students find it hard…and they are at a loss of how to proceed. I encourage them to study what they have done before, but they need more of the one to one support of having someone sit and talk them through their choices. Others are quite persistent. This first grade boy worked and worked to draw this house. He struggled with the final side, and while it’s not quite straight…he was proud of his accomplishment!
Lots of girls liked my idea of drawing letters or writing their own name. This second grade girl figured out how to make several characters come together to make an “E” to represent her name.
And others risked creating something more complex. This third grader managed to create a picture along with some words of a story. I got him to take this screen shot for me, but after that he was still adjusting his code and working to make it look just the way he wanted.
I love the way that programming allows students to work at their own edge…and teach each other as they figure out something new. We ran short of time today, but I know that I want to give students time to share how they made their designs with each other (and me).
Using Hopscotch makes me realize just how much more I need to know about angles and rotation in order to get past the basics of squares and triangles! I just figured out how to make a circle as I was waiting for a dinner meeting tonight!
Have you tried Hopscotch or another basic programming tool? What do you suggest as next steps for my students?