Articles

We Can Code

Erin Capina, YinD 127

December was the month designated for Hour of Code and I decided to participate because I had a small group of five students who I thought would enjoy this activity. December was also the start of the ONET tutoring for the P6 students and they would be spending every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at a school in a neighboring village doing ONET prep work until the test day in February. The students labeled “learning disabled” would not be joining them, so these were the students I chose to do the Hour of Code activities with.

Hour of Code is a global movement that was designed to demystify computer coding, show that anyone can learn the basics, and increase and broaden the participation in the field of computer science. Hour of Code events typically take place during the annual Computer Science Education Week but aren’t limited to that time; you can host an Hour of Code event at any time of the year. The Hour of Code activities are usually 10-20 puzzle games that introduce kids to the fundamentals of computer coding in a way that is fun rather than daunting. No previous coding experience is needed for instructors or participants; it’s designed to be unintimidating and easy to understand for programmers at any level. I, admittedly, have previously done some coding back when making your own web page was the “cool” thing to do in the late 90s and early 00s and again in my undergrad days, but those experiences weren’t nearly as fun as this.

For our Hour of Code, I chose the Frozen activity. Since every child seems to love that movie I thought it would be a hit. The day of the activity I logged them all onto the Hour of Code website, showed them the correct activity, and then stayed in the background to see if they could do it with little to no input from me. It turns out that yes, through some trial and error they could do this activity, which was entirely in English, with little input from me. Unfortunately for us, another class came to use the computer room about halfway through the activity so the kids weren’t able to finish. Instead, we finished Hour of Code the following free day and this time there were no interruptions.

Since Hour of Code was such a hit, after the new year I did one of the “beyond Hour of Code” activities—the Hour of Code website links to resources that explore computer programming beyond that one hour—with the same group of students. The beyond Hour of Code activity was easier for them to do now that they were more familiar with how the program worked, and they were even able to their peers along if someone got stuck at any point. At the end of the activity, they told me that they enjoyed doing this style of learning and wanted to do similar activities in the future. Often, the “learning disabled” students are left out of many of the class activities because the teachers don’t expect much from them and as a consequence, they probably don’t expect much from themselves. Doing these coding activities showed both themselves and their teacher that they are capable of doing a “hard” English only activity. Perhaps doing Hour of Code won’t result in any future computer programmers in my little group of five students but I do hope that it shows that they are just as capable of learning and doing new things as their non-labeled classmates.

beyond-hour-of-code2

They’re now confident enough to help others along if someone is stuck.


 

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