Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Break the Code --- Code.Org

This post starts my first in my series of "What the Code?" -- a review of different learn to code apps & websites. Today I am going to start with the big daddy of them all --

Overview began in 2013 as way to get ALL students interested in coding. Students can choose to participate in just an "hour of code" during their yearly "Hour of Code Week" or can participate year round with Code Studio. Depending on you location, Code.Org offers free trainings for teachers on how to implement into your classroom!

Classroom Uses - Kindergarten & 1st 
For K&1 I start them on Course 1 (non-readers) Stage 3 where they learn to drag and drop the piece. Students could skip this level, but for me, I think it builds a great foundation of how to manipulate the blocks. Before I let them begin, I work whole group with the students through stage 3 and a couple of levels on stage 4. Because it's usually one of the first class periods and our "coding stamina" isn't built up yet. I usually let them work for around 30 minutes beginning with Stage 3. Rarely do I have someone make it to the end of Stage 5. The next class, I skip ahead to Stage 13 to loops. Wow. Loops are hard! As long as they are trying to use the new repeat piece then I am happy!

Code.Org - Course 2

Classroom Uses - 2nd, 3rd, and 4th
For 2-4, I have the start on Course 2 (readers) Stage 3. I model levels 1 - 4 mainly to get show them an example of a turn & a move. Because these are older students, I usually have them work the whole class period. I also usually have a handful of students who get to the artist levels which I think is much harder because it has them use degrees which hasn't been taught yet. Those kids who get there though are usually able to do it pretty well with a little bit of support.  The next class period the students work through Stage 6. My brain always hurts after this level! I try to explain to the students to look for patterns!

Code.Org - Course 1

1. I love the connection of the current game characters! Students are willing to work harder on something because it has Elsa on it than if it was a no name princess!
2. Recently, they have added hints! Game changer! To me, this totally connects with real life problem solving. If I don't know something, I go and ask someone or "get a hint".
3. It's a great work at your own pace program! You don't have to sign in to use the program either. Yay for no passwords!
4. Code.Org is always coming out with new themes. This past year they added a Minecraft AND Star Wars theme.

1. I know they want you do also be able to do unplugged activities without the computer, but I wish there was a way to skip those.
2. I hate the bee levels on the Course 1. Even to me, it's so confusing with the nectar and the flowers. I intentionally skip those levels because we just don't get it! No more bees please Code.Org!

I think is a great way to get kids of all ages started learning to code. I mean, who doesn't love coding with Angry Birds, Star Wars,  Frozen, and so many more current characters! I do wish it had more "create your own", but I think there are other programs *cough* Scratch *cough* that do a great job of that.

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