Tuesday, May 13, 2014

GCISD Hour of Code: Reflection from 1st Grade

Today's guest post comes from Maureen Simmons, 1st grade teacher at Bear Creek Elementary.  Follow her on Twitter @MSimmons1212 and her classroom blog: http://mrssimmonsclassroom.blogspot.com/


Being a first year digital teacher in Grade One, I was looking forward to these last few weeks in May where “my” learning was winding down.   My young students and I have tackled a lot of exciting things lately – using Google Drive (check!), utilizing Edmodo for assignments (check!) – what more could our wonderful Instructional Technology Team challenge us with in the glorious month of May?   

Enter: “Hour of Code”

 When my fellow digital teacher (Karen Gelles) and I read this latest challenge we were mystified to say the least.  Both of us have heard the word “codes” here and there on Twitter… but that was the extent of it.   Karen and I spent a conference period exploring the Hour of Code lesson plan from our Instructional Technology Team to try to demystify the subject of coding.  We came up with our own definition that codes are teaching the very beginnings of computer science to our kids.  This Hour of Code lesson would fit in perfectly with Career Day – so we signed up to be a part of the Hour of Code.  We downloaded the “Kodable” app to our student iPads and I planned to explore it over the weekend.  I would be totally prepared for the following week!  

Enter: “6-7 year olds”

Three days before our Hour of Code lesson, our 1st graders discovered the Kodable app on their own.  They were supposed to be practicing math facts on an approved list of Math apps listed on the board.  Instead, a large group of students huddled in a circle completely engaged while exploring the Kodable app.    The same thing was happening across the hall in Ms. Gelles’ class.  Both of us whispered, “Should we stop them?”  I mean, after all, we were saving that app for next week’s (expertly planned) Hour of Code lesson!   But instead, we stood back and observed, listened and were amazed. These little first graders were teaching each other computer coding (without us!) There were tones of excitement mixed with mystery and even a little frustration as they were working hard to “understand the game.”   There was a sort of energy in the room that I can’t explain.  Many were already completing several levels of the app, realizing the increasing difficulty of the next challenge and sharing how they solved the prior one with others.  They did not need me teaching a well planned lesson.  So I got my iPad and joined the huddle on the floor so my students could teach me the Kodable app, since I haven’t yet had the time to explore it on my own.  Our first graders did not even know they were beginning to learn and understand computer coding – but I will tell them that next week (when we actually have the lesson)!


Enter: “Slightly revised Hour of Code Lesson for next week.” (Our kids are already so smart!)

Many thanks to our GCISD Instructional Technology Team for continuing to encourage and challenge all of us to step out of our (month of May) comfort zones and enter into the (not so bad) zone of computer science!  If first graders can do it – anyone can!

For more information about GCISD's Hour of Code, view resources here:
http://goo.gl/FPVJRl






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