Type of technology: Ipads or Computers
SAMR Model Rating: Redefinition
Grade level: Elementary TK-6
Subject area: Computer Science
Setting: Tuesday afternoon at approximately 12:25pm. Students have been working on Minecraft Coding for about a half and hour. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent)
Me: Ok everyone, I have some good news and some bad news.
Robert: What? It’s time for lunch?
Me: Yep it’s lunch time! The bad news is that the coding you have completed on Minecraft will not be saved.
Mo:(places hand on head) Noooo! All this hard work gone!
Jim: I know! I want to stay in and finish!
Rodrigo: Yeah! Can I stay in and finish it?
Other students: Yeah! Me too! I want to stay in too!
Me: (smiling and shaking my head) You have to eat!
Rodrigo: Can we come back up to the class after we eat?
Me: You want to miss your play time to finish this?
JIm: (nodding his head)Yeah, this is better than recess!
Me: Ok, come back to the room after you eat lunch.
Students: (yelling) Yessss! Yeah!
I already know what you are thinking. This dialogue sounds something straight out of a telenovela or cookie cutter sitcom. But it’s not! This actually happen in my classroom, last Tuesday afternoon. Over half of the students wanted to come back to class to finish their coding puzzles for Minecraft. Yes….Coding! In third grade! It was their first time writing code this year and everyone had some form of success.
If you would like to experience this type of euphoria in your classroom, then read on and I’ll tell you how to make it happen!
First, you will need to visit the website Code.org. This site has all the information on how you can participate in the Hour of Code week which begins on December 7th. During this week, teachers from across the country will be teaching their students how to write computer codes. Educators are encouraged to register their classes and use the helpful lesson plans to get their students started on the coding process. These lessons are wonderful! They lead you step by step in how to teach coding to the students. Best of all, there is minimal prep time!
I chose to have my students work on the Minecraft program, because most of them use Minecraft at home and they enjoy building things. However, if you clicked on the link, you will see that their are many other programs to chose from. Second, I had the students watch the introductory video. Every lesson has a short video that teaches the students how to use the coding program.
After the students watched the video, I had them type in the friendly url https://code.org/mc into their web browers on their Ipads. I won’t lie. This was probably the hardest thing for them to do because of the forward slashes and the colon. Those that followed along with me, got in fine. Those that didn’t follow directions, had trouble; however, their neighbor or I walked around and helped them long on.
Management Tip: Teach a few students how to long on in advance and then they can help other students log on.
Once the students logged on, I had them start working on the coding puzzles. There are fourteen puzzles in all. About ninety percent of the students were able to figure out how to solve the first coding puzzle right away. I didn’t have to help them at all! As they move up the levels, the coding puzzles get progressively harder; which caused some students to ask for help. I encouraged the students to help each other and I also walked around and helped students who were having trouble. Click the link below to watch a video of one of my students helping another student complete one of the levels.
Teacher tip: I would recommend completing a few of the puzzles before you have your students do them, so you know how the program works and will be able to assist them.
It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the students to complete the program. Once the students have completed the program it generates a certificate that can be printed or emailed. I used this link code.org/certificates to create the certificates because I don’t have an air printer set up on the Ipad. Some students will not finish the puzzles, but that’s ok! Everyone can earn a certificate for participating in the hour of code.
These two students were so proud that they finished the entire Minecraft Program, that they waited after school for me to print their certificates!)
Now that you know what to do, I hope you have a great time teaching your kids how to code!