Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New year - New adventures!

In addition to a full scale overhaul of the traditional library with major weeding and re-cataloging to improve student accessibility, we are introducing one-to-one Chromebooks at 6th and 7th grade, and I was asked at the last minute to teach a series of ten week courses to 7th graders.

Library stuff and one-to-one later. Course curriculum request was to include some keyboarding and whatever good stuff I'd like to teach them. WOW! It didn't take much research to learn that today's seventh graders are not excited about keyboarding class and that with few exceptions, without opportunity to use keyboarding on task students' find personally appealing, it tends to be ineffective. (Sorry I didn't save links to all articles but they are fairly easy to find if you are looking.)

So what to teach?

I've spent too much time learning about and promoting non-traditional lessons and projects to fall into a traditional research project to teach library skills and practice keyboarding. Our ELA teachers and even some of our SS and science teachers help me with that. Now Genius Hour is something that I could get excited about, but not sure I want ten weeks of seventh grade Genius Hour . . .

CODING! We have no business or digital technology teachers in the district. Seventh graders are the perfect age for an exploratory class in computer programming! The goal would be to teach some computational thinking and ability to break a problem down to develop simple algorithm solutions. I know absolutely nothing about computer science or coding! This should be a cinch!

Three days of research into keyboarding and intro to coding programs and I am practically a pro (at research, not keyboarding or coding.) I have decided that my first major goal is to have students animate their names to include on cover page of the Google Sites websites I also plan to have them create. Problem is, the name animation exercise I found on Scratch seems way too difficult. Next week . . .

Day one: Shortened schedule to make time for afternoon assembly. Seventeen of twenty students on roster came to class. We got all but one logged in to computers and into Google Chrome. Logging in to Code.org is simple with a Google account. They had to be convinced it was okay to tell the truth about their ages. Sad that their first instinct is to pretend (lie) that they are at least 13.

They followed instructions to join my class but their instincts again to skip tutorial video at beginning of the Classic Maze, Hour of Code project that I chose as a starting point for them. The roar of confusion was almost deafening - and yet amusing. We turned our monitors off to watch the intro video together as a class. They couldn't get monitors back on fast enough and away they went!

Day one of school, with shortened classes, and the class of 2022 has already started to build code! I can't wait until tomorrow!

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