GCISD Hour of Code: Reflection from Middle School Language Arts


Guest Blog Post from Nichole Hostetler.  Follow me on Twitter @mshostetler6th!
When I heard about the Hour of Code, my first thought was…straight up fear.  Nightmarish flashbacks about my accidental enrollment in a high school C++  (advanced computer programming) course came flying back at me, as my stomach began to turn. 

“Okay, get over it,” I thought. “This will be good for my kids. They need this, and I can “fake it until I make it” to get them exposed, and then we’ll get back to our novel (where it’s safe!).”

I had initially planned to do this only with my advanced classes, and to spend both of my ELA blocks on this.  One block would be the “Intro” piece where I showed the videos, had them brainstorm real world applications for coding, and explored each of the apps, websites, and “low-tech” options to decide where they’d like to spend a larger block of time later in the day. 

To prepare, I began going through all the options myself.  After exploring this activity for myself, I knew I just had to do this with all my levels of kids. I was hooked.  Coding was easy---and FUN! Who knew?!

I started out with thoughts like “Coding is hard; I’m not smart enough to teach this; and coding looks super boring.”  After experimenting with all the possibilities, I was thrilled to have a changed mind! And even better still, I knew I was teaching the kids something they really needed to move into their future.

I shared with my students, especially the girls, my own reservations about this activity. 

“This is typically considered a “man’s” profession, and I never saw myself as a programmer.  But, if you will just give me the day, and promise an open mind, I will promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised!”

During the lesson, every student was engaged.  Collaboration, leadership, and cooperation happened organically, and the kids were INTO IT! They were helping each other “debug” faulty programs, writing code, and playing each other’s homemade video games!

After the lesson, I had my students reflect on their experiences.  Below are just a few of the students’ reflection comments.  I’m so happy to report that even the MOST reluctant student had a BALL doing the hour of code! Overwhelmingly, I saw comments like
“When can we do this again?!”
“Coding is so much easier than I thought!”
and “Maybe I’ll do this for my career one day!”
(Especially from my girls!)

I am so glad we were able to do the Hour of Code, and this is something I’ll definitely work into my lesson plans in the future! I’m a changed woman…and now, a PROGRAMMER too!



Student Reflection Comments:

“I really love [writing] code.  I might pursue it as a job.  It is basically your own playground, and that is the aspect I like best!” ~Julian

“This was really fun! I loved the obstacle course and the cup stacking [robot] game.  My dad showed me code earlier in the year and I thought it didn’t’ make sense, but this has opened my eyes to how it can be fun.” ~Jack

“I learned a lot about coding, and I think it is really cool and maybe something I want to do as a career!  I have always wanted to go to MIT, so this is cool! ~Missy

“After today, many of my questions [about coding] were answered.  I think coding is very fun and that any age can do it.  I found out coding isn’t boring; it is fun! ~Cameron





Videos:

Robots Running Code: Unplugged Activity


Cameron's First Video Game with My Doodle Game


Hour of Code with My Doodle Game


 

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

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