Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The One Where I Try To Code #slice2014

On Tuesdays, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to join in, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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In July, I went to the Google offices in Chicago to attend a STEM Social and learn about Raspberry Pis. At the time, the whole idea of coding and understanding what a Raspberry Pi is was completely new to me. Now I have a better understanding of how kids can learn to code and how that means they are typing in simple commands to write code that a computer or program can carry out. (At least...that's how I understand coding...hopefully I'm on the right track compared to back in July!)

On Saturday, I went to an Edcamp-like unconference in Chicago called Playdate. In leading professional development in instructional technology this year, I have brought the Playdate model to my school district. We have done site-based Playdates and one district-wide Playdate. They are so much fun! Like Edcamp, it's self-directed time to play and explore with other educators but with a technology focus. 
One of the sessions I signed up for was Coding with Kids. I downloaded Lightbot Hour of Code (free) and played with it the entire session. This is when I really saw how coding comes to life. I'm still not sure exactly what it looks like from a programmer's point of view, but I definitely saw how I was writing simple commands and stringing them all together so that my little robot could move around the screen and light up little tiles. I love puzzles and this felt like I was solving a puzzle. I could write up a string of commands and try them out, seeing how it went, adjusting, sometimes starting over. 

The best part was trying Lightbot with Peanut when I got home. I told him I found a new app that I wanted him to try and that it was like solving puzzles. I talked him through each of the commands, following along with the on-screen instructions and adding my own explanation as we went. It was fascinating to watch him try to add steps and to watch how things went, to rethink, and try again. It was as if I could see the little gears turning in his head. Later, when he was climbing into bed, he tried to sneak his iPad in with him so he could play Lightbot. He'll be seven in May and it's amazing that he'll have some of this basic knowledge about coding that was completely foreign to me until less than a year ago.

I know some of my Twitter friends have tried Hour of Code. Have you tried it? Do you have an app or website that you really like? Do you have questions? (I'm not sure I can answer them...but I could try!) I would love to hear what you know about coding and if you have any tips or tricks for me!

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