Friday, December 12, 2014

Hour of Code: Year II

Last year, the AP Computer Science students at Edina High School facilitated Hour of Code for all of the students at EHS. As I documented here, it was a huge success, in fact, enrollment in the Computer course went up 50%!

This year, Nancy Johnson, the instructor and the students wanted to take Hour of Code to the Middle Schools. Johnson contacted the Math teachers at both South View and Valley View, who agreed to give up a day of curriculum, and have the high school students facilitate Hour of Code. I hung out at South View, coordinating students and handing out food. The kids were amazing! The high school students received high marks from the teachers, leading students and in some cases learning from them! The high schoolers remarked at how engaged the students were overall in the different activities. Said one,
We aren't that engaged programming for 50 minutes, these kids coded for 80!
All in all, a great learning opportunity for all! Here is a bit of what I captured at South View.

Sidenote: One added benefit of being 1:1, was that we didn't have to schedule labs or set up carts of computers for this year's event. Kids just used their own device and learned to code right in the classroom!

Reflection: There has been some criticism lately from folks regarding the motives behind Hour of Code. I understand those concerns, and also get it that the basic games and activities on the site should not be confused as full blown curricula. While observing one class yesterday, after a student completed the tasks on the Karel the Dog site, I heard a teacher challenge a student to complete a task that wasn't in the guided steps. The student was fully engaged in solving the problem and working towards a solution. Will that student go on to take Computer Science courses moving forward, or have a career in the field, I don't know. But I do know that the students I saw yelling, "YES!" and pumping their fist when they solved a problem, got an engaging glimpse into the instructions and language behind the tools they use everyday, and that many would probably continue to explore these beyond the one "Hour of Code." I also got to see a great group of High School students, men AND women, serve as role models to the middle school students, and leave feeling as though they had made a difference. That to me was a huge #EduWin!

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