For the second year in a row, Jefferson Elementary is doing a school wide #HourofCode event. Jefferson is a K-4 building and is 1:1 with iPads in K-2 and Chromebooks in 3-4. We decided to participate in #HourofCode last year as a unique way to take advantage of the technology the students had access to. Principal Angie Hausmann and her staff were willing to take on the challenge without knowing much about coding themselves. I liked the idea that every student in the building would be focused on the same activity at the same time.
Coding is a great activity for students. You can actually see the students thinking as they build blocks of code to complete the puzzles and mazes. Magic happens when one student figures something out and then can show her classmates. And really, coding is just learning how to think. And who couldn't benefit from that?
Tynker has become my favorite app to use with elementary students. This year we are using it with 2nd grade. The directions do require a bit of reading but 1st graders could probably use the app with help. Yesterday I spent time in the 2nd grade classrooms helping students. A lot of students were on the Lost in Space activity in Tynker. While the first level is similar to activities they had done earlier in the week, the second level, Lockdown, is a bit more challenging. As the classroom teacher and I were watching her students work I commented, "They are struggling but it is a good struggle."
Coding is an activity that requires perseverance. If the code doesn't work the first time, you need to try something else. And sometimes you have to try again and again and again. Students have definitely learned that this week.
"It is a good struggle." I think a lot of times teachers (myself included) give up the answers too easily. It is hard to watch students struggle with an activity and you want to help. But in this case, when they get the right code and you see the excitement in their face, that is a good struggle.
As the coding time was ending and the teacher was transitioning to the next activity, the kids were reluctant to put the iPads down. Some of them had spent the last 45 minutes struggling through the activities. And yet, when it was time to be done, they didn't want to stop. That is a good struggle.