Coding Project Update

Tonight I am taking a bit of time to document what I have been up to with my major project over the past while. As recommended in the course syllabus, we are encouraged to keep in mind the importance of the PROCESS while working through our major project. As such, I have been doing a lot of hands-on work with the project I have chosen, but haven’t shared in awhile. Soo I thought tonight might be a great time to just stop, and share my journey so far.

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So, as many of you know, my first attempt at this project was me sitting at cross-roads trying to decide between exploring and educating parents on the teen apps that parents may not know about but “should absolutely” know about.

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I was torn between this project and then also exploring how Alexa could better be used as an educational tool in my classroom.

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When I shared my ideas with Alec, he reminded me of the focus on the aspect of digital citizenship and media literacy. I have to be honest, at that time, I did understand the concept of digital citizenship, but I hadn’t truly wrapped my head around the concept of media literacy. It was stumping me a bit, and I think I needed to get my feet wet in the course a bit more to truly understand what was being asked of me.

Fast forward a few weeks… and I found myself choosing the Teen Apps project. However, I didn’t want to just read reviews on the apps, I wanted to explore them first hand so that I could give first hand recommendations and education to parents, regarding the apps. Road Block. I did not anticipate how uncomfortable downloading one of these apps would make me feel. Even though my purpose for doing so was educational, I felt like a big elephant in a virtual room… and I did not belong there. Not only did I feel uncomfortable being present on the app, I was also uncomfortable having any risqué app on my phone. Soon after some deep reflection, and though a very worthwhile cause, I just decided that this project (though beneficial on many levels), just wasn’t for me. And that’s disappointing, because I felt many of my classmates had the same curiosity in learning more about these apps as well. I just couldn’t do it.

Sooooo…. back to the drawing board I came. And this time, I had a little better understanding of what media literacy meant. I thought long and hard about an area of ed tech that I was interested in but knew nothing about. I’m generally an adventurous person, so I knew it had to be something that would allow my creativity to be incorporated, as well as the ability to drift off into a few different directions. Alas, CODING!!! I have been curious about coding for a really long time, but just haven’t had the time, nor reason to delve into what it really is. So, I decided to take the plunge into this digital area, knowing that I knew nothing about it, but that there was a plethora to learn….

So, it began. I really wanted to just spread my wings and navigate around, but I didn’t really know where to start. So, I started with a google search. I looked up terms such as “Top educational Coding Apps for kids”, “how to code”, “coding for dummies”, “coding for idiots”…. and I landed on a great link to a list of wonderful coding Apps for kids. The list was long and I scratched a few of the top apps down on a paper and downloaded them (freely and with ease this time) onto my iPad.

When I woke up the next day, I decided that maybe a coding club at the school would tie in my learning, with student inquiry, and then also some tech based learning (which I feel should be a focus at the new P3 school that I am working at). Bingo… I had a plan.

But then, this thought came into my head. What would the blind leading the blind in coding result in? hmmmm The more I thought about it, I figured the result would be something like this analogy.

So, I reconsidered this plan. Next, I decided that maybe what would be a better plan, would be to have an inquiry based coding club that I could learn from, that would also foster student leadership, and creativity. I would email out a request for the coding keeners in our school, and have them teach me the best parts of coding, while also spreading their wings to code something that interested them. We had access to a few programs, as well as computers, and I figured we were a go. I emailed out the request and to my delight, I received the perfect amount of interest from staff. Not only that, but I had some amazing educators willing to jump onboard with me to help in any way that I needed. AWESOME! I put together little invites and invited 9 super sleuth coders to a “special coders meeting”. And there we were. Now, this coding club plan seemed a bit better than just allowing anyone to come to the coder meeting, since I really had no idea still at this point.

This club has been extremely beneficial to me, and I believe that the students have enjoyed it too. The only problem with this club, is that my lack of knowledge means that the students are really driving their projects and coding adventures… and I don’t really have a ton to offer them, as they still know more than me. But, I am learning a ton!

Check out a few of the awesome little projects that these guys have been making!

So now, this coding club is still underway and it is going well, but it seems to me that this analogy is accurate of what is happening in this coding club at this time.

So, this is causing me even further reflection… I needed to take this plunge to begin learning… and learn I have. However, my thoughts into the future are this…. What would help these kiddos to learn even further? The answer is this. If I were more media literate in Coding. Which I am NOT. So, my focus for the remainder of this project has shifted a bit again. When I consider what would make the best coding experience for my students and I, it would be if I were absolutely coding literate, along with my super sleuth coding club students. Then we would both have some experience to guide us, and I would be better able to push them in the right direction. The result I would anticipate to be something more like this analogy. No longer would the blind be leading the blind, nor the seeing leading the blind, but rather the seeing working along with the seeing to create something creative, innovative and exciting. See this analogy:

So what does this mean? Well, this would mean that I spend even more time truly understanding the world of coding, so that I am literate, and able to push my coding club to learn even more. This has redirected my final product of this journey to be a series of mini lessons for teachers, that would help them to go from where I was, to being coder literate…. and in a place where they could knowledgeably begin coding with confidence.

So, I have taken to doing some research of my own. I have watched a few more youtube videos, and have downloaded the book Scratch Kids for Dummies to help me come up with the simple basics that every educator should take the time to comprehend before diving into Coding. Here are a few of the videos that I have been watching to get a better handle on becoming coding literate.

I have also spent substantial time trying to learn from my colleague Kelsie Lenihan’s coding project videos. Hats off to you my friend, you’ve done amazing with mastering Python!!!!

And, that is where I currently am. I am taking the time to make a web of lesson ideas that I feel are important for educators… I’m organizing and refining them to get the perfect fit for what I want to do with them and how I want these lessons to look.

I am struggling to choose just one specific app that I would like to revolve these lessons around. Thanks to my awesome coders, I have explored LitBot, Scratch, Scratch Jr., and Tynker. Now, Scratch Jr. is on all of the school board iPads by default. This is making me consider that this would be a useful app to base my lessons off of. However, I really like the format of Tynker and a teacher’s ability to set up a Tynker class roster… So I am leaning toward using this for my lessons. Either way, there isn’t too much that would change as the general coding lessons would not be Program specific. Soon, that brings us to here. Sharing my journey so far. My hands are numb from typing, and I have some work to do to take some screen shots of things I want to insert into this blog post before I can post it…

However, if you are one of less than 1% that actually reads this far into my project journey, I will likely have the videos and screen shots uploaded to this website (as I plan to do that before I post this blog). So, IF you read this far, go ahead and leave me a comment below. I would love to get your feedback on this journey as well as any recommendations that you might have in guiding me to the finale! The finale, I might add, will be the end of my graduate studies road. This is class 10 for me, and I am so happy to be finishing it off in an area that I am truly passionate about!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me and taking the time to read what I have been up to! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Coding Project Update

  1. Wow I love the kids coding projects they look great. Coding is something I don’t know anything about. Thanks for sharing the resources maybe this is something I’ll try out too. I love your analogies explaining your project.

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  2. I love that you are taking on coding! It truly is amazing what our students can do when we give them the chance to think and problem solve while creating stories through code. I have been using Scratch JR for a couple years and was amazed the first time I introduced it to my class. I tried starting with a lesson and teaching them but quickly realized they were going to teach me more than I knew! Looking forward to seeing what your super coders come up with!

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  3. I loved your blog post! Thanks for sharing — especially the analogies (so fun!) I think it is so great that you are taking on coding for your major project. This is certainly a topic I don’t know much about. I am going to have to check out some of the tools you have been using so that I can try it out with my class.

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