Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Hour of Code in First Grade

A few weeks ago, my sister asked if I had heard of the Hour of Code.  I asked if this was a movie.  She told me that if I was going to call myself "The Primary Techie", I better find out about the Hour of Code.  So, I did what any good techie would do, I Googled it!  The Hour of Code is a global movement to encourage children to learn basic computer coding.  Computers are our students' futures.  I believe that we should immerse them in technology.  I am a wannabe techie and know NOTHING about coding.  That being said, I believe that if I want to learn something, I can.
I signed my class up to participate and began watching the tutorial videos.  I was surprised by how easy it was to understand.  Many activities were based on popular characters and themes like Frozen and Angry Birds.  There are many activities to choose from.  The tasks become more challenging as more puzzles are completed.
Some of the activities seemed much more appropriate for older students (independent readers).  I borrowed a third grade class yesterday so that I could play with the more difficult activities.  The kids were so into it, that they asked for the website so they could continue coding at home.  With my firsties, I introduced all concepts on the smartboard.  We walked through the activities together.
The kids were bursting with excitement to try the coding on their own.  One of the many tutorial videos showed how two kids should work together on one computer.  They talked about one being the driver and the other is the navigator.  The activities are perfect for taking turns and working together.  I have four laptops in my room, so computers are usually one of my six stations.  I wanted them to try the partner work, so I used two laptops at two different centers.  This worked really well because the kids were able to keep their computers for two center transitions,  which gave them longer turns.
I knew they would learn computer stuff, but I was surprised by all the other benefits of the activities.  They are excellent for problem solving, mathematical thinking, reading, and communication skills.  Whether you are a techie or not, you should check out The Hour of Code.  After you sign-up, you will get an email with certificates to print for your class.    
I told the technology director at my school about our Hour of Code.  His response was, "What now?"  I was so excited and that response kind of deflated me a bit.  What now?  He is right!  What now?  We are excited about it.  We like it.  What now?  Does this fizzle out until next year when I do it again with a new group of kids?  NO!  I want my kids to continue this enthusiasm.  We need to keep it going.  We will add these activities to our weekly learning stations.  We will incorporate this in our weekly tech lab time.  The Hour of Code will not last just this week.  The Hour of Code will become the YEAR of Code for my students.
I took typing in high school - on a TYPEWRITER!  When I was in college, we didn't know how to cite the internet because it was too new.  Technology changes so quickly and encompasses every aspect of our daily lives.  I can't imagine what my students' futures hold, but I know that time spent teaching them about technology is a valuable use of time.


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