This week in class we began discussing coding, and be completely honest with you, I really had no idea what it was. The only thing I knew about coding was that it involved computers and programming of some sort. I didn’t think that it was something I would ever be doing or have to teach students, but I was ready to be educated on what it means to code and the many benefits to participating in it.
I found this video on YouTube that gives a very brief, yet informative explanation of what coding is!
To better understand coding, I also read an article by Doug Belshaw titled “This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code”. It was from this reading and the video I shared above that I was able to gain a better understanding of coding in general. Belshaw defines coding as “the ability to read and write a machine language as well as to think computationally”. From this definition, I determined that coding is basically like writing a script for the computer to follow. You put in the information and what you want the computer to do, and the computer will then read what you’ve coded and follow it! I was now starting to realize that maybe coding wasn’t as difficult and scary as I had once thought! Now it was time for me to give coding a try for myself!
My Coding Experience
I decided that this week I would do my Hour of Code! I went to the website and began looking through the different activities. There were so many to choose from but I eventually landed on the Alice In Wonderland activity.
The activity started out pretty simple. I was the character of Alice and I had to follow the rabbit to the door. The only obstacles I had at this point was the trees. The controls on the bottom of the screen allowed for me to press the arrows and the code would show up on the top left hand side of the page. I then pressed play and watched Alice walk however many steps I put in.
I continued coding this way for a few levels, with each level requiring a few more steps then the last. Overall, things were still pretty simple!
Once I reached level 6, things became a little more difficult. I now had to type in the code myself. I would start by typing in the direction I wanted to move, then in brackets I would put the number of steps in that direction I wanted to go, and finally I would finish the command with a ;! This required a little more thought but it wasn’t as difficult as I had thought it would be, granted this is an activity for grade 2-5 students! I found it really interesting that I could put a number between the brackets for how many steps I wanted to move rather than having to write the command out each time!
The final levels were the most difficult because they introduced some new obstacles such as the guards, a cake that makes you grow, and a potion that makes you shrink. I now had to first go to the cake and eat it, which would allow for me to push past the guards that were standing in front of the door. Then, before I could enter the door, I had to go to the potion and drink it so that I would shrink and be able to fit inside. This wasn’t exactly confusing, but it really made me have to plan out my route before I started typing my code in so that I would be successful. This was essentially like creating maze and then making my path to go through it.
Ta-da! I was a little excited to receive the cool certificate to commemorate my first hour of code accomplishment! I will admit that i was really nervous and confused about coding to start with, but this activity has shown me that it doesn’t have to be as scary and confusing as it may seem. So can I now say I have some coding experience? You bet!
Final Thoughts on Coding in the Classroom
I think that it is safe to say that I am no coding expert and you definitely shouldn’t be expecting any major technological advancements coming from me anytime soon..but I also think that I have gained some knowledge on coding and can say with a lot of certainty that I believe it has a place in all classrooms!
From Belshaw’s reading, as well as class discussions, my eyes have been opened to the many ways in which coding can benefit students. The three main benefits that Belshaw discussed include; developing problem-solving skills, digital confidence, and to help students understand the world around them. While these are all extremely important, they are only a few of the many benefits to children learning to code. The Tynker Coding For Kids website also explains 10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code, including reasons such as embracing creativity, improving focus and organization, and improving communication skills. The truth is, the benefits of learning to code are extensive, something I have just recently come to realize!
To me, coding has always seemed like something that was way beyond on understanding. When I heard the work coding, I immediately thought of a bunch of super smart people sitting in a room and controlling computers around the world or creating robots that they could control with their own technology. In reality, coding is something that anyone and everyone can do! Just look at what I was able to accomplish in one hour without having any coding background experience! These websites such as Hour of Code and Scratch make it easy for students as young as 6 years old to learn how to code and enjoy themselves while doing so!
I personally cannot wait to learn more about coding and have the opportunity to bring it into my future classroom! Although I don’t have an extensive knowledge on all the details of coding, I am going to make it my goal to do everything I can to educate myself on the topic so that I can then educate my students. This is some I think all teachers should be open to. Whether you’re interested in technology or not, the world is becoming more and more dependant upon it and we need to keep up with the times so that we are providing our students with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in this changing world! Coding is just one of the many ways we can do just that!
I would love to hear what others have to say about coding and its place in the classroom! Don’t be afraid to comment below and start some great discussions!