Today’s Contributor: Sarah Rasmussen, librarian and CIC at Reilly Elementary.
This is the 3rd year that we’ve participated in a school-wide hour of code event during National Computer Science Education Week. This year, our students participated in Hour of Code programming activities using Chromebooks and iPads during their weekly library period. I started with a quick discussion about computer programming, gave them a short tutorial, and let them have guided practice using the Minecraft programming tool provided by Hour of Code. At the end of our lesson, I had students tally up the lines of code that they’d written and then created a bulletin board display using the individual totals.
The first year Reilly participated in Hour of Code activities, I was surprised by the misconceptions students had about programming and computers. Many didn’t realize that games and applications are created by people who write code. They were under the impression that the computer somehow created each game or application on its own. Students are always excited to learn that people called software engineers create the games and applications that they love, and that this is a career field that they could possible pursue. In addition, I’m always amazed to discover a historically non-high-achieving student who has great aptitude for coding. Some of the best coders at Reilly are kids who are not necessarily high-performing in other areas.
As a follow-up activity, I sent home a note explaining the Hour of Code and provided students and parents with the code.org URL so that students can practice coding at home. Lastly, I’ve also scheduled a software engineer to give a presentation at our campus career day later this spring. Our students definitely love learning about software engineering careers and enjoy getting some exposure to coding. These activities help nurture problem-solving skills and logic and help to prepare students for twenty-first century careers.