Today’s Weekly Photo Challenge on the Daily Post is about horizons…that place where the earth meets the sky.
And as I headed to the beach to capture one of my favorite horizon vistas, I found myself thinking about the comfort of familiar places like the beach…and the stretch of reaching for new horizons.
In some ways my horizon photo this afternoon represents my feeling of reaching for new horizons and feeling the “edge” of learning as I work with my students to learn computer programming. There’s that sparkle and shine and thrill of the new along with the hazy sun and encroaching marine layer representing all of the unknown and uncertainty.
Today a parent in our classroom came in and shared his work as a video game programmer with our students. He showed us a few of the games he has made…
the first with a team of three including him. The most recent included a team of 1,000!
Then he helped to connect this work that he does with our work on Hopscotch (an app), built on the shoulders of Scratch (a program developed at MIT). He showed us a few kid-made Scratch programs and had the kids make suggestions for changes. In a matter of a few minutes, he showed how the iterative process is essential for programming.
At this point there were about ten minutes before recess, so we offered our students this short time to return to Hopscotch and try their hand at some more programming. Students were quick to get set up…and were immediately focused and engaged with working with code.
I watched them try something and then go back and make a change and run their program again. When students showed me something they had created, I also asked them to show me the code–and in many cases asked them explain their thinking behind the code–so I can learn along with them. When it was time for recess, we offered students a choice…they could put their iPad away and go out for recess or they could stay inside and continue their coding. Only 8 of our 44 students chose to go out. The rest were totally absorbed with programming on Hopscotch!
I’m working at my edge on this new horizon of learning to code with my students…and it’s uncomfortable at times. But knowing that this is also where learning happens is exciting. I’ll probably spend some more time on Hopscotch (or maybe even Scratch) this weekend. If you have any coding advice, I’m happy to receive it!
Here’s a great TED Talk by Mitch Resnick, one of the creators of Scratch, explaining why students should be involved in programming. Maybe we should all try it out!
And if it’s not coding, what new horizons are in your future? What are you doing to find the “edge” of learning?