This week we were introduced to the program Logo. The logo program is one that teaches users how to program or instruct a computer to do something. Within the Logo workbook, it shares that computers can only understand very simple instructions so one must work to program a computer by combining many simple instructions to carry out complex sequences. When flipping through the Logo workbook it is easy to see many math outcome connections to this program. In going through the curriculum this fall to make my yearly school plans I did not see ‘coding’ as an outcome in any of my grade 2/3 curriculum outcomes. Has anyone found a specific curriculum link for coding?
Working through the Logo workbook I found that it was very easy to follow once I could wrap my head around the direction of the turtle. Being able to place yourself in the turtle’s position was key I found for successfully programming its movements. I found the beginning of the workbook to be very helpful where it explains all of the movements and gives good visuals to demonstrate how the turns and movements will work. I really liked the instructions where it talked about turning and it shows pictures to show a 90 degrees turn, a 180 degrees turn, and a 270-degree turn. These visuals were very helpful! I feel that teachers could easily make a cheat sheet for students with these visuals to help them get started with this program!
I really like the progression of Logo and how it goes through a number of exercises to allow students to practice. I like how it has the exercises and does not just expect students to come up with these codes on their own in the beginning. I have used other coding apps with my students and I feel that many of my students were stuck with getting started and they were not sure exactly what to do. I feel that by giving students these exercises it allows them to practice specific skills as they work through them. It allows them to explore and understand all that the program has to offer before venturing out on their own.
In a past semster, we were encouraged to try out some coding apps. For this, I chose to explore the program Scratch as it was one of the coding programs that was already on my classroom Ipads. In my blog post Coding…..Say…..Whaaat? I shared my first experience with coding and my introduction to the world of coding in schools. My experience on the app Scratch was a good one as it is a very user-friendly app and is extremely visually appealing which I feel students would appreciate. One aspect I feel that it is missing in comparison to Logo is the exercises. I feel that there is value in those exercises as they share with students what tasks can be completed with the app. I feel that Scratch could benefit from having some exercises to allow students to practice before they jump right in. I am going to re-explore Scratch now that I have used Logo and see if some of these questions can be answered.
Another coding activity that I have explored and tried are the Bee-Bots. Bee-Bots are programmable ‘bees’ that students can manually program by pushing the buttons then allow them to go to carry out the code. I loved using these with my elementary students as I thought it was a great hands-on way of teaching the basics of coding and it allows them to physically manipulate and watch the bots go. We set up mazes using blocks and we programmed the Bee-bots to navigate their way through the maze. It was a great introductory activity to coding in my classroom.
As we know Constructivism is a powerful learning theory in teaching children. Coding is most definitely a skill that falls under the constructivism umbrella. Coding allows students to use their problem-solving mindset and skills to create and construct learning with 21st-century skills. Coding activities provide students with problem-based learning which is a constructivist learning task. Coding provides them with a problem or an idea that they have to work through in order to create a code to carry out the task. Students have ownership in this problem solving as they creatively work through authentic tasks that grow their knowledge of coding.
Moving forward I realize that as a teacher coding is a task that I need to incorporate more into my classroom as experiences for my students. Looking at our current curriculum I can see that coding is not a priority in education in Saskatchewan. I do however understand that it is a skill that students need to be exposed to and hopefully in the near future coding will be written into our curriculum. It is evident that in comparison to other provinces in our country Saskatchewan has some work to do! As teachers, we need to be committed to bridging these gaps for our students. I plan to look into Hour of Code to find out how I can prepare and encourage my students to participate in this!