Thursday, December 4, 2014

Taking An Hour Of Code

Recently my daughter and I have been enjoying our Kano computer. If you haven't heard, a Kano is a small Raspberry Pi computer you build yourself. For under a $150 bucks it's a steal because you get to program it to do pretty much whatever you want.

Upon booting it up we were greeted with several screens to no only learn how to use it but if we wanted to play a game or use a program we had code it ourselves. And since the language used in the programing is so straightforward and easy, most (even my 5 yr old daughter) can code it.

She will sit for hours coming up with different ways to make the snake game harder or easier or faster or slower. And she has to remember the different commands and experiment with how, in combination, they work.

The best part? She doesn't even realize the skills she is working on and how they will be ever valuable as she continues to learn.

Coming up next week (December 8-14) is the Hour of Code. Kids (and adults too) from all over the world will take an hour (or many more) and learn how to code or expand their knowledge of coding and coding languages.

This video sums it up nicely.

The theme this year is Frozen. Have you hear of that movie? (I have a daughter who could educate you!) All in the hopes to get more kids, especially girls interested in coding and showing them that anyone has the capacity to code.

You might be sitting back saying, "No way. I can't learn how to code or program. And even more, no way my students can either." It's so much easier than you think and the plethora of resources available to participate are endless.

Here are several so you and your students can participate in the Hour of Code: | Learn: Over at the site they have a ton of ways to practice coding. Everything from learning how to code Angry Birds, to an introduction to Javascript to so much more. Don't have any computers or devices in your classroom? Not to worry! There is a whole section on programing with paper, which teaches the math skills developed through coding.

Scratch HOC 2014: Scratch is a program that has been around for a while. In its simplest form, students take different blocks which represent different programing commands and put them together like a puzzle to make Scratch the Cat do different things. Some kids are taking it to the next level and designing games and interactives to share. Scratch is free to use and download so it makes a great addition to the classroom for Hour of Code. For Hour of Code they have a whole site dedicated to using Scratch to learn how to code and some simple project ideas kids can complete in an hour. And it's not just older kids. There is Scratch Jr. for the younger ones as well.

Made With Code | Monster: Who doesn't love a good monster, especially when you can make it dance and do crazy stuff! On the Google site Made With Code, they've created a friendly monster you can learn to code with. Similar to Scratch, kids take the building blocks to construct the instructions the monster will follow. A very simple and fun way to embrace programing.

CodeAcademy: Geared towards older students and adults, CodeAcademy is a great place to learn pretty much any programing language. Lessons are interactive and fun. And they have an app so you can learn where ever you are.

HOC Teacher Resources: Of course, there are many more resources to explore and learn how to make coding more of a presence in any classroom. The site has a great section for teachers with more sites, plans and ideas than you can shake a stick at!

I hope that every kid gets a chance to enjoy the satisfaction and fun coding can bring next week!

What resources do you have that you can share? How will your students participate in the Hour of Code? Leave some ideas below.

Photo Credit: kjarrett via photopin cc
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