Day 23: The Secret Code to Coding in the Classroom

I tried coding for the first time today with my students, actually my students tried it for the first time and then taught me how to. This was the first time I actually gave my students something that I hadn’t explored beforehand, no tutorials, no website research, just the strong recommendations from the #peelfam community.

I told my students that I have never done this before, and that they were the first class that I have ever coded with (I know, time to get with the program). Students were immediately engaged. We decided to have a 10 minute exploration. I didn’t show them what to do (because I myself was trying to figure it out).

Picture the moments after opening your Christmas present and playing with the new toy. We came back together after the first 10 minutes to discuss our discoveries. Some students became emerging experts and assisted others with specifics. I started to toss out  challenges that included moving the character to the left, up, down, etc…the challenge that got them thinking was having the character move around the perimeter of the screen.

I started to see connections to problem solving, creativity, and collaboration. Students who normally would shut down or be very hesitant of trying something new without me sitting beside them began to solve their problems by seeking help from their peers. I purposefully stayed out of the the conversation, redirecting students to one another for support. It was great to see the collaboration.

Students were frustrated at times but there was something about this activity that made them persevere and struggle to find a solution. I can see were curriculum connections can be made, but today was just about that initial exploration (you know, all the pages in the curriculum before the actual curriculum). I think it is important that students see their teachers as learners, not always the experts. Today we made discoveries together, created, and shared our thinking.

If you haven’t tried it then you need to just jump in. Give yourself the freedom to let the students take over.

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