Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coding: Lessons Learned

After reading a little bit about the Hour of Code, I decided to introduce my students to coding/programming. You can read more about our start to coding here and you can see some photos of our work during the Hour of Code here.

We played around a little bit with it before the hour of code. We participated in that and we had so much fun that I decided to get a Sphero BB8 Droid for the students to continue playing around with programming. 

Since BB8's arrival, students have been bringing in their personal devices to play with and program the Droid. They have had a lot of fun learning to program our robot. 

Here are some of the observations I have made over the past couple of months as the students have engaged in programming the robot:

  • There has been more failure than success and the students never give up. They never complain that things are too hard or that they can't do it. They simply keep going, using trial and error to assist them.
  • Many of the students draw diagrams and/or use paper and pencil to write out a plan of action to assist them with their thinking.
  • Students engage in solving problems each time they work with the robot. No session session has gone as planned, yet the students maintained their interest and enthusiasm.
  • It isn't always the same students who bring in their personal device to work with BB8. The students who have a device (e.g. iPad, iPod Touch) and are permitted to bring it in tend to invite students who don't have access to a device to join them at lunch recess to work on coding the robot.

Something else I want to note is that when my coding students seem to be struggling in class, I have been using their programming experience to remind them and encourage them about maintaining to engage in and practice a growth mindset. When things get too tough, I remind them about what I have observed while they programmed BB8. It seems to get them thinking and that is a good thing.

Three students were successful in getting BB8 to move around a desk group without issue. Here is a screen shot of their programming and a video of their successful run.

The students replicated what they had done above after recess as well. They showed their classmates and they talked about the process they followed. It has motivated others to get more serious about the time they spend working with the Droid. 

These three students tell me that their next step is to program BB8 to do more complex things, like going through an obstacle course! I look forward to seeing what they do next as they continue to problem solve and persevere.

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