5th Grade Coding Class

I’ve been interested in learning more about the coding craze for a couple of years now. However, I was reluctant to jump in because I was afraid I didn’t know enough to teach the students about coding.  I finally figured I would learn best by doing!  I wanted to start small, so I decided to offer a before-school Coding Class to interested 5th graders.  I planned out six 30-minute sessions to give the students an introduction to some of the basics of coding.  [As a side note: we used Google Classroom to organize our learning and keep in touch between sessions.]

Here’s the outline of each of the sessions:

Session 1 – Introduction to Coding

We started out our time together by watching a video from Code.org called “Anybody Can Learn to Code.”

We then jumped right in with Angry Birds Coding.  The Angry Birds Coding Challenge has 20 levels for the students to complete.  It uses Blockly, which is a programming language where you simply drag and drop blocks to write code.  Throughout the 20 levels there are videos and prompts to help students learn and succeed.  The students loved their first coding project!

Session 2 – Code Your Own Game

Session 2 was probably one of the favorites.  We completed the Code Your Own Flappy Game.  There are only 10 levels in this activity.  The best part — Level 10 allows them to create their own customized Flappy Bird Game AND they are able to share their games!  They absolutely went crazy over creating their own version of the game and then getting to play their classmates’ games as well.  Check out this Santa version one student created: http://studio.code.org/c/52481225try 

Session 3 & 4 – Introduction to Scratch

scratchlogo

Sessions 3 and 4 were focused on working through the Getting Started with Scratch Guide.  This was a little harder for the students because it was not quite as scaffolded as the previous two activities.  It provides step-by-step directions, but no prompt pop up if you do something incorrectly.  Some students would click ahead without really reading and end up a bit lost.  It provided a good learning opportunity to have them slow down and do some problem-solving.

Session 5 – Canceled due to Winter Weather.  Womp womp. 

Session 6 – Wrap Up

Well…the original plan was to create a Scratch Project in Session 5 and 6 by either remixing one of the starter projects or to creating something on their own.  But since our Session 5 was canceled due to inclement weather, I ended up choosing a different activity to wrap up our class.  We ended up doing the Play Lab Coding Project.  This was a great activity that covered most of the different topics we learned (block coding, characters, movement, repeating, etc.).  The Play Lab activity also allows students to customize and share the last level.

Reflections

Overall I think the Coding Class went really well!  I definitely feel more confident about my own knowledge of coding and working with students on coding.  The students all learned quite a bit and enjoyed their time as part of the Coding Class.  Their biggest suggestion was to have more sessions!  They couldn’t get enough!

If you have been hesitant about introducing coding to your students, I highly recommend the activities I outlined to help get you started!  It wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be.  🙂

Any recommendations from coding experts?

Image

Official Google Educator

I completed my Google Educator certification back in February!  I learned quite a bit going through the process.  I used the Google for Education training website to prepare.  You have to pass exams on Gmail, Calendar, Docs Suite, Sites and then you can pick one add on test (I chose Chrome).  Each exam costs $15 and the certification is good for one year.

Side note: It looks like the Google Educator Exams are unavailable from April 8th through June 28th while the programs are being updated.

Google Educator

Google Calendar Custom Views

Another cool Google Calendar feature is custom views.  Ever want to look at the next two weeks (or any period of time) at the same time?  Simply click and drag the dates on your small month-view calendar (to the left) that you want to view all together and…VOILA!

Mini-calendar view

Highlight on mini-calendar view.

two week view

Example two week view.

Google Calendar – Optional Guests

This is one of those little Google Calendar features that I had overlooked.  If you are inviting someone to a Google Calendar event but they are not required to attend, you can mark them as optional.  To mark a person as optional, click on the shadow head icon next to their name.  It’s a great feature to use if you want someone to be aware of an event but it’s not mandatory for them to come.

Google Calendar Optional

From: https://www.google.com/edu/training/get-trained/calendar/basics.html