Here's a topic that has been much on my mind in recent months. "Coding" has been a buzz word in the library community for quite some time, but it's only been in the last 6 or so months that it's begun to take a more firm hold in my brain. Especially after our September 2016 Questar III Library Liaison meeting where several librarians in attendance talked about how they integrate coding into their curriculum, that's when I decided to get serious about exploring what all the hubbub is about :-)
So before I even signed up for Cool Tools this Fall, I had begun experimenting with The Foos and Kodable, hoping I could introduce coding to at least grades 2-3 this year. But then life happened, and before long, a multitasking librarian like myself who does not know the meaning of the word, "no", found herself blissfully knee-deep in post-graduate classes, assorted PD opportunities, heading two school committees, collaborating on every project teachers approached her with, rocking the Danielson rubric, and finding the time to cook a 35 pound turkey on Thanksgiving (yes, apparently they do come that big!), and well - coding sort of got lost in the shuffle!
And that's when I fell on my knees in gratitude for good old Cool Tools! This assignment popped up and put coding back on my radar.
Now having already explored The Foos and Kodable for my younger crew, I decided to see what was out there for my older students. So this week I explored "Hour of Code Activities By Grade Level" and I discovered "Code Avengers" digital postcard activity for grade 6+. This was definitely a big step up from the games and activities I had explored in The Foos and Kodable.
In this 10 task activity, I was lead by way of short video tutorials through the process of writing real html gobbledygook!! You know, the kind of stuff that beings with carrots (<) and includes weird, non-natural language scripts and the like. This is what my husband does for a living, and for a brief moment, I enjoyed a glimpse into his murky, bizarre world of geek speak (of course, look who's talking - the girl who spends every spare moment with her nose in a book!).
Anyway, because I try to incorporate everything I do in Cool Tools in my actual teaching, I decided to make a postcard from Rick Riordan's Camp Half-Blood (who's the geek now?!) to see if this is something I can incorporate into my 6th grade Inquiry project: Create Your Own Demigod. And the verdict is..... maybe. Making the postcard was not the problem; however after step 10, you can supposedly share your postcard via FaceBook, Twitter, or Google - but no matter how I tried sharing the darn thing, it was a no-go. At one point I found where it should have been on my Google page, but it was blank, and the emails I sent to my multiple addresses never showed up at all (yes, I did check my "junk" folders, too!). So, using skills learned in a previous Cool Tools assignment, I took a screen shot and saved it in my Google Drive (my, I'm resourceful, aren't I?) and here it is!
I also explored several of your tip links, including the 10+ minute podcast, "7 Tips for teachers Who Have No Interest in Coding", which didn't so much offer useful tips, as just sort of reaffirmed that I am qualified to teach coding. Okay - it did give a few tips, but these were in the form of, "You should play the coding game BEFORE you teach it to the students". Like that was news, right?
Anyway, my real take-away from making my html postcard is how grateful I am for word processing programs that let you make text BOLD or BIG with a simple Ctrl function or click of an icon rather than writing crazy lines of script! I think I liked the coding games for the younger set better with their use of sequencing and logic. That's more my speed.
So will I incorporate coding into my curriculum? Probably.... but I think I need to explore more of the amazing resources you gave us first to get a better handle of which programs would work best for my students. And I need some more time to think about where I would want to insert this topic. Right now I'm so focused on the IFC and inquiry learning that much of my instructional time is devoted to projects and research skills - which is not to say that coding does not belong - I just need to reflect on where and when. Seeing my students on a 6-day rotation means I only have about 30 classes per year with them, so every minute has to count, and the learning has to proceed in a logical manner so as to give the students a sense of purpose and progression.