I needed this this week!
It has been a very hectic few weeks at school amidst a busy holiday season.
The past few weeks have required countless hours of printer inventories, ERDing desktop computers, organizing laptop collections, teaching staff how to backup files; we had our school wide server upgrade this week unplugging the entire school leaving glitches to fix in it's wake. I am tech contact.
I have trained teachers to administer the IOWA test, bubbled answer sheets, tracked testing permission letters, made and revised a test plan, organized students into testing settings, and gave the IOWA; I am test coordinator.
I wrote sub plans for two days last week the day after Thanksgiving break, prepared a presentation for the Convergence conference, spent 7 hours over the weekend participating in on-line professional training (#EDUcationOnair); I am ITF.
And despite, I had an amazing week at school with my students.
This is Computer Science Week.
#HourofCode is happening all over the world.
I participated….beginning the day my school had no internet of any kind. And the lessons have had kids pumped all week!
I teach with technology. It is my job. Two of my elective classes are called Computer Writing and Technology Wizards. I have to admit, it was challenging me to write a lesson plan to carry me through the day Monday when the internet didn’t exist. I toyed with having the kids do some research with real books. I thought venn diagrams comparing computer writing and pencil paper writing with fun scrapbook paper would be fun and would look nice in the hallway.
Then I became engrossed in more and more breakout sessions throughout Google’s EDUcation On Air. Code 4 Kids was one session that captivated me. I code with my students. Scratch that...I don’t know how to code. I let my students code.
They love it.
The boys AND girls alike!
But I had always dismissed the unplugged coding lessons not realizing just HOW engaging they really are! I will never make this mistake again! During the EDUcation On Air session, I made a connection I hadn’t before. I have been having my students code since the first year I started teaching; longer actually! I just wasn't aware of it.
When I prepared my presentation about coding for the Convergence conference, I included Common Core curriculum standards that coding satisfies. There were multiple grade level goals represented in my presentation and they covered science, ELA, math and speaking and listening. But after EDUcation On Air, I started seeing algorithms (a+b=c) and writing, adjectives, verbs, drafts, editing...never really a final draft. This was going to happen in my classes beginning on Monday when we had no internet. Yep! We were going to code unplugged.
We were going to release a beta version of the making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
On day two, it was SO amazing to hear 2nd and 3rd graders who I had guest spoken for the day before showing up at the classroom door saying, “WE GET TO CODE AGAIN TODAY!”
Remember: there was not one computer turned on the day before nor would there be all week for this. Yet they were psyched about getting to code!
This is dumbfounding to me. And the enthusiasm continued throughout the week.
By midweek I was done. DONE! I had other lessons to get to.
We had written code (written in sequence), run the programs (made sandwiches), fixed bugs (edited and revised), pushed out updates (retried the revised sequence of steps….made more sandwiches), pushed out more updates (with stronger and more specific language)...
But honestly, I didn’t want to watch another PBandJ sandwich being mutilated. However, the kids were not done. They had more bug fixes to make and updates to release. They were not letting this go. I had to coax them to put the paper and markers down and leave class well after the bell rang each day.
I had to meet in the middle some how. I started this and couldn’t just drop it.. I finally agreed to release their app to the public (bring home their code scripts and record my family running the program of them making the sandwich for them). After playing the video of my family enjoying the app, they were then free to take their code home and fix their bugs at home on their own time.
I have not seen so much enthusiasm about editing and revising in a LONG long time. I truly couldn’t stop the kids from analyzing each other’s sequences and revisiting their versions of code. There was giggling and belly laughing with every failed attempt. They begged to have their programs recorded to play back and learn from.
Next week we begin “ordinary” coding with computers in my classes. I have done this before with much enthusiasm from the kids. However, coding unplugged has been an “extraordinary” coding experience bringing with it more gratification than I could have imagined. I am bubbling over with a renewed love of writing, editing, and revision.
I am tech contact. I am test coordinator, I am ITF.
I have dealt with a server upgrade, testing, and sub plans this week.
It has been a hectic few weeks.
I have inspired failure and a grueling writing process and with, it persistence.
It has been a fantastic week!