I was lucky enough to attend a high school (mid ’80s) that offered classes in basic programming and I also took several computer programming classes while in college. I knew that writing code used logic but I did not realize how those same concepts are used every day and how helpful they would be to my young elementary aged students.
I watched the two videos and what jumped out at me right away was how young many of the men and women are that created websites that millions of people use every day. For my first task, I decided to try out Animate Your Name. I had so much fun completing this task that I told my 16 year old son about it. Although I can’t post what I created, it is really cool and anyone reading this that has not tried it yet, should go immediately before reading any further.
Next, I checked out Mozilla Thimble where I created this easily following the directions:
Next up — Apps. On my iPad, I downloaded Kodable and Hopscotch. I decided to start with Kodable because it seemed the simplest and it really was simple. I can see using this with my UPK and Kindergarten students to get them to understand sequence. As the game progressed, it slowly got harder by adding additional colors. The app also included a curriculum and other resources for teachers. Because of its simplicity, I think even the lowest achieving child would have some success using this app.
Next, I tried Hopscotch. The first thing I had to do was choose an object — I chose a cupcake. On the next screen, there are a series of blocks that are the options for the chosen object. As you add options, you can press play to see the object move in the way you have programmed it. I added a second object and move options. It kind of reminded me of playing with legos. You build upon each layer until you have a finished product. For my project, I added a monkey that moved down the screen and the cupcake shrunk every time it was clicked until it hit the screen edge and then it grew by 50% (see screenshots below). Considering this app is free, there are a lot of possibilities and I doubt my students would ever get bored. Although I was just having fun, one of the uploaded examples used code to create a picture of the Sydney Opera House — Amazing!!!!
Since I work in what is considered a “Focus” school, I think it is imperative that I do everything I can to help these students become successful not only on a state test but in the classroom or on the job. If I can help my students learn how to program, then I think they are one step closer to being successful contributors to society as a whole which is part of my mission as a school librarian. Tomorrow, I will be requesting these apps be added to my iPads and will request that the Tech Dept. consider adding the full version of Kodable, if not this year then next year.