What is coding?
I didn’t know much about it either prior to December of 2014. I learned that it is another language and knowing how it works will open up a lot of possibilities for my students and our classroom. I saw Tom, a colleague at my school doing creative integrated Science/Math projects with a coding app called Hopscotch. As soon as I saw his kids engaged in conversations without teacher prompting about how to make their projects/demonstrations/games better I asked Tom if his kids could do a brief mentoring of my students. I thought what they were doing was innovative, yet I had no idea on how to start because I had no experience with coding myself.
Luckily for me expertise runs deep if you’re willing to release control and let play and experimentation into your room. Soon after we participated in the Hour of Code and my students we hooked on creating games rather than consumed with playing them. When we ran into a problem we couldn’t answer we searched youtube and the expertise of some students in Tom’s Class. A few of my students have started Genius Hour projects that have them creating games and some have plans of creating Youtube tutorials for other students. I connected a couple of my students with another class in Surrey and via skype they were able to give a couple quick tutorial sessions on how to use Hopscotch to code. If you know of a few students who would like to learn about coding via Hopscotch I know of some keen grade 6 students who would be willing to share their learning.
Below is an account from one of my students on their experience with coding. I encourage you to let go of control and see where the world of coding will take you and your students. I am excited to see where the journey will take us next.
Coding is like a language that tells something to do something if something happens. For example in flappy bird I know to jump and move forward when the iPad is tapped and the tubes know to send the flappy bird back to its start and say game over. All of these things were programmed to do something. Even every block in piano tiles were programmed to have sounds, be tapped or not to be tapped and to move faster or slower. Coding is easy if you know how but apps or websites like Hopscotch makes everything simple for anyone to do.
We started by using the Hopscotch tutorial to help us with the coding challenges ahead. After we tried to see what you could do by adding random things and seeing what happens when you tap or shake or even tilt the iPad. After I learned the basics of Hopscotch I attempted to make a flappy bird game, but I struggled. It was my first ever game that I tried to make, so I tried again and it got way better. The game I created had scores and it was hard to win, so finally I tried again but in a different way. It had a blue background and when you didn’t tap the screen it said tap to start and when you tapped it would disappear and the bird would start flying.
One of the best things about Hopscotch is that you can see what other people have made and see the codes that they have used. This helps you with ideas when you are making your own. When you are about to make a game, picture, or whatever then you can pick blank or one of these other games. If you click one of the other games it brings you to the blank game screen but there is a video telling you that you have to make the game that you have chose. You can make any game you want if you just find code off the internet and the copy it into the game. You can then change it to make it what you want.
Another helpful way to learn how to code is code.org. It tells you every step of the way and it even try to see if you were paying attention and it gives you challenges and it says what do you think you need next to finish it off. Coding is a fun way to tinker, learn, and challenge yourself to create something using language to get a computer to get what you want it to do.
Grade 6 Student