Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beyond Hour of Code – WGS Code:tasic Club

In December Walnut Grove K-5 students participated in the Hour of Code, sparked by code.org, during their library and computer lab time. It was hit with the students! Due to the success of this activity, we offered a 6 week after school coding club. Grades 3-5 participated in WGS Code:tastic Club up to three afternoons per week.
Mrs. Whitt, WGS Librarian, Mrs. Jenkins, WGS ACE teacher and myself used Code.org’s K-8 Intro to Computer Science course. The course is comprised of a 20 hour series of tutorials and activities. The robust course includes plugged activities and unplugged activities.
In the plugged activities (on the computer) the students learned a programming language called blockly to solve fun challenges and were introduced to JavaScript. With unplugged activities (no computer necessary), we taught the basic concepts of Computer Science in a hands-on kid friendly way. For instance, teaching conditionals by creating rules to our own card games and functions by creating patterned sun catchers. We also created games, sung songs and did relay races, all while introducing key vocabulary and concepts.
Learning coding helps students with math, problem solving, and critical thinking. Now the students will have the foundation to pursue their interests in programming.
We culminated the event with a Code-In (akin to a lock-in), wrapping up our plugged and unplugged activities, washing it all down with pizza, cupcakes and drinks. It was a huge success and for our efforts Code.org has awarded WGS $1000 in prizes through the DonorsChoose.org program. With this generous donation we are purchasing kits to begin teaching robotics and basic circuitry using Lego Robotics, Arduinos and LittleBits.
WGS kids are rocketing through this century!
Acknowledgement - Thanks to Holly Whitt for contributing content for this post

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