WHY HOUR OF CODE: A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO EVENT HOSTING
Sometimes the intended audience of a campaign is difficult to identify. For the past few years however, the intended audience from the international leaders behind the Hour of Code parent company Code.org, has been very clear: the audience they are targeting is teachers. This is certainly not to put more responsibility on a teachers overflowing plate, but rather to reach out to the experts of the classroom, the purveyors of effective instruction and the arbiters of inspiration. It has never been easier to sit back and watch our students learn at a rate that is well beyond our expertise as classroom teachers. However, this should not be a fact that we as classroom teachers fear. With the Hour of Code, teachers are able to be an effective “learning diagnostician,” admiring how students master complex curriculum outcomes from Language Arts to Mathematics with ease, while our students are completely oblivious to the rich connections their minds are making.
Now, more than ever, our students are taking ownership over their devices. Rather than being passive consumers of their electronic devices, students are hacking, tinkering and demanding that their devices be as unique as their own individuality. Having been a middle-school mathematics teacher, the power of teaching our students how to code has been an incredible way to allow ours students to interact with curriculum material in a way that is meaningful, authentic and relevant.
I must admit however, it has been difficult to transition from what I remember “computer programming to be” in the early 1990s (QBASIC) and how easy it is now for students to learn how to significantly alter the intended function of their devices. This is why I enjoy the efforts of this website .No longer do we as teachers have to stress over the disconnect between our desire to teach coding and the perceived complexity of coding.
We hope that the (lengthy) video below provides some much needed clarification on how to setup an Hour of Code event in your classroom so that you are ready for the official launch of the Hour of Code on December 7th – December 13th.
If I were to summarize the content of the tutorial above it would be:
Teachers should take the time to poke around the Hour of Code website to learn how to host their event.
Events must be registered before December 6th – If you teach multiple sections of a class, make sure to register an event for each class that you teach.
There are no shortage of activities: Activities are categorized by grade, subject and even language of code.
Just because these coding activities are largely based on drag-and-drop coding blocks, doesn’t negate from the valuable computer programming skills our students are learning. A quick internet search will reveal that top Computer Science schools like Berkeley and Harvard are introducing their students to coding by using the very same coding examples.
You do not necessarily require devices for your students. There are plenty of “unplugged” activities available to those teachers who wish to lead students through the fundamentals of Computer Science with pencil and paper based thinking.
Sometimes our students have difficulty understanding that coding doesn’t mean to participate in these yearly activities, rather that they are learning universal skills with which they can use to change the way their devices interact with the world! (lofty future burden intended.)
If you are looking for a way to answer “What is coding?” then explain that creating code is like following a precise set of instructions on a recipe that if followed correctly will lead to the most delicious cookies ever tasted. The delicious factor of those cookies is dependent on how you have followed that recipe. Similarly, the success of your invention is dependent on the syntax of the code that you have written. Every recipe that we follow will create a certain flavour of food, similarly, there are endless flavours of code that we can develop: from SCRATCH to C++, each has a specific flavour of appeal for their users.
The Hour of Code doesn’t have to end when the campaign ends on December 13th. There are plenty of ways that your students can stay involved in learning to code, from inside the classroom to outside.
Any time before December 4th, a member of the Brilliant Labs team will gladly visit your school to assist your classroom, your teaching team, or your school, in preparing for the Hour of Code.
Finally, Brilliant Labs is hosting two LIVE Hour of Code Hangouts where you can log-in and join the Hour of Code discussion. We will answer any of your questions that you may have to better prepare you for your Hour of Code event.
The first live event will be at 6:00PM on December 2nd. You can watch this event live via Youtube by clicking here.
The second live event will be at 3:45 on December 3rd. You can watch this event live via YouTube by clicking here.
To join the live broadcast, simply look for a link on our twitter feed @brilliant_labs prior to the event at around 3:00. Or you can follow firstname.lastname@example.org on Google+.
We are pleased that you are interested in hosting an Hour of Code event. Please make sure that you check our website www.brilliantlabs.ca frequently for more information. We will also be making daily (maybe even hourly) updates to our twitter feed.
If you would like personalized support, please do not hesitate to contact me by email.