Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our #HourOfCode Experience

So I had heard about the #HourOfCode movement for quite a while.  I even signed up a few months ago saying I would take part.  Then the month of December quickly came upon me and I just had far too much on my plate to even consider "losing" a day of instruction to allow my kids to try this whole coding thing.

Then last week I heard about how much fun Mindi Vandagriff had doing it with her 4th graders.  Through her excitement and the awesome photos she took I figured I might give it a try with my students.  Now I love the idea behind coding but didn't think my kids would "get it".  So Mindi told me about csedweek.org/learn and the awesome Angry Birds/Plants Vs Zombies FREE coding activity.  I checked it out and was blown away by it!  So I figured I might just give this whole coding thing a try.

Then I heard about how much fun Drew Minock and Brad Waid's 3rd and 4th graders had.  And those guys are always on the cutting edge of what is cool and fun in technology.  If those guys were having a blast doing it, I knew I should try it too, so that pushed me over the edge and convinced me I was doing it.

The morning of our #HourOfCode was a DISASTER.  There was just one thing after another that threatened to cancel our entire experience.  I'm one of those teachers who teaches every single day.  Just because it's the week before Christmas doesn't mean it's time to just lay around and play games all week!  We're learning!  Well not everyone agrees about that and things tried to get thrown in the way of our schedule.  But thanks to an awesome teammate who rearranged her day and combined with my classes, we were able to find an hour per class to let them try it out.

We begged the 3rd grade team to borrow the school set of Chromebooks, I took out the 3 iPad/iPad Minis, the Google Nexus 7, and even that dreaded Surface tablet, and we utilized the couple of desktop computers in my class.  We really utilized every resource we had to try and make this work.

Well once we got the kids online, the whole event went off without a hitch!  It was an incredible experience to hear their excitement, wonder, and joy of programming.  They really had the time of their lives!  I was shocked at how much some of these kids really bought into the whole idea of computer science and programming.  Let's just say, we now have an after school technology/program club that will be starting in January!  Kids begged me to!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the day:

"This is really hard, but I like it!!"

"Mr. N!!!  I made it glitch! I'm a computer programming genius!"

"Mr. Nesloney, I couldn't figure it out.  But I kept trying and then eventually it just came to me! I passed another level!!"

and my favorite quote of all..... "I'm a freaking genius!"

Many adults, myself included, don't quite understand the idea behind teaching kids code.  But after today, I'm a changed man.  The excitement level alone in my kids made it totally worth it!  I can't wait to find ways to take this even further, and even more so for our soon to be started after school club!