I had about 3 days between the time Lynsey invited us to participate to learn a little bit about what this Hour of Code thing was. So I visited the site, watched some videos and played a bit. I did a few lessons with my kids that introduced coding without using a computer. The more we chatted, the more excited we all got as we were really learning the language of computers.
The day was a hit and the kids learned a lot. I am certain what they learned will change the conversations we have in the classroom. While we were there, one of the news reporters asked me why I decided to participate. Was I a coder? A gamer? Was this about career ed?
Luckily, I had thought about this as I looked at the site and got us ready for our trip. As a classroom teacher, I am always thinking about how things like this fit into the bigger conversation of what we do in the classroom, especially in the area of literacy. Obviously, this #hourofcode was worth it even if it was a one hour event and we never talked about it again. The thinking and problem solving kids did in such a short time was amazing. The response to mistakes and trying again made me happy. The fact that we were truly all learning together was powerful. I am sure that one hour of code impacted them as learners overall.
But for me, this #hourofcode was about literacy. Maybe because I learned it with the kids. Maybe because my head is all around where the literacy is in digital tools. Maybe it was because of where our conversation had been before #hourofcode when it came to authors and decision-making. But I knew that this hour of code would change the way my students would approach their reading and writing. I knew that if they understood the behind-the-scenes work of digital creations, they would see what was possible in their own creations and they would also read and view more critically. Just as classroom author visits give us a sneak peek into some one's process, #hourofcode gave us a sneak peek into the whole digital creation process. My students learned that everything that is programmed by a coder has to be decided upon and they realized how many decision go into a short digital creation.
I remember the first time I showed the clip of the Spaghetti Harvest to my students years ago. The first few years I showed it, they believed that if something was on film, it must be true. I think that is still true for many of our kids today. Every year when I showed this video clip, the conversation changed as we discovered what the creators did to make it so believable. The impact on student writing and reading was almost immediate as they began to read more critically and create with more intentionality.
I already see similar things happening because of #hourofcode. My students are already playing on the sites and apps they were introduced to. Possibilities were opened up when it comes to what they can create. They feel empowered as they have so many great choices in creation. But I've seen a different stance in their reading as well and I imagine it will continue--Why did the author/creator do that? How did that decision make the piece stronger is one we talk about across format, genre, media and this is a question that they now understand a bit more deeply. They understand that a person, a person trying to share a message or create a story, makes decisions about things on every game, website and video they see. This is a big aha for them. And for me, this is an important piece of critical literacy.
Since our experience with Hour of Code, lots of little things have popped up around the classroom. From my understanding, there will be a Code Club Meeting on Monday during Indoor Recess. Over the weekend, members were to try out some of the links they had played on and sign up to share their learning/tips.