Kids Who Code: Exploring and Evaluating Coding Tools

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The Kids Who Code project is well underway in our classroom! Our class has been exploring coding for the last couple of weeks. We've learned that coding is "giving computers instructions/directions" and students have had the chance to try out a variety of coding tools. My students have learned a lot (and so have I!)

Here is what we've been up to:

Exploration Time: Students have used different devices to explore a variety of coding tools including Lightbot, Hopscotch, Kodable, Code Monkey, ScratchJr., Tynker and Daisy the Dinosaur. These initial explorations were typically preceded by a short demonstration from me or a short video tutorial. The instructions/demonstrations were minimal since I have limited experience with these tools and I wanted students to discover things on their own. Due to the number of devices in our classroom, students worked in pairs or small groups to spend about 10-15 minutes with each app/tool over the course of about 1 week.

Evaluation and Feedback: We decided on some important characteristics of coding tools and, after trying each tool, students used a simple 5 point rating scale to evaluate the tools. Students also gave comments and suggestions. In response to a student suggestion, we sent these evaluations to the creators of the app/tool via Twitter. (A couple of them even responded to thank us for our feedback!).

Kids Who Code Code-a-thon: We are gearing up to take part in Hour of Code, which is an international movement to encourage people to try coding. The Hour of Code week is from December 8-14th this year and we are co-hosting our own event to celebrate. Working with Mrs. Caldwell and the Oak Lake Community School Kindergartens, we are organizing the Kids Who Code Code-a-thon. During this event, my students will act as "coding experts" and teach others about coding. With this goal in mind, students selected a coding tool to "specialize" in for the event. We are now working in small teams to become experts with our selected tools and develop activities for Code-a-thon attendees to try out when they visit our stations at the event! Meanwhile, we are supporting the Kindergartens as they plan the details of hosting the event at their school. We are very excited to continue with this learning project!

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