Saturday, 5 November 2016

Hour of Code

Following our cool wee task in problem solving the students were introduced to the Hour Of Code website.  As a school, Waiouru has a bit of a passion for Star Wars so the students chose to work through the 'Build A Galaxy with Code' activities.

It was great to see all students have such a huge sense of success as they worked their way through the levels, working out where the programming blocks used last week looked similar to those being coded with this week.  They quickly deduced that different blocks had different purposes, how they needed to change numbers on movement blocks, begin with a start command and build their ability to code ever increasing requests of their characters.

The students who initially struggled were placed in a support-buddy combination to get their feet off the ground with the block coding format and, as the coding became more challenging, to assist with the knowledge of angles and repeated coding sequences to be successful.  Problem solving their way through these challenges resulted in a sense of achievement some were not accustomed to in such a short space of time.

So what does this mean as far as my inquiry goes?  The introduction to coding has been received with greater enthusiasm than I have seen in past classes, albeit they had slower internet, less flipped learning and not as many devices.  Another difference I found was the girls being equally as engaged as the boys, with some being quicker to solve problems than the boys.  There was great excitement as the students problem solved their way through the levels, with a slight air of competition developing among some students also.

Discussions after working with the activities revealed the students had enjoyed the challenges presented and found the videos that assist at various stages a big help.  They liked the block coding and the opportunity to fail before succeeding as tasks got harder.  They had a greater understanding of the concept of FAIL - First Attempt In Learning, and took the perseverance from their gaming world into coding.  The students who initially struggled were surprised at how quickly they were able to learn the basics of coding, enjoying the power found in collaboration.

I am looking forward to extending these findings further as we transfer their learning into Scratch and other programming formats to create games and control our newly acquired robots.  The 'don't know' from 'They don't know what they don't know' is shrinking as the term progresses.  Bring on the next level of challenges.

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