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What it took to run the Hour of Code at our school December 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christie @ 6:01 pm

We ran an Hour of Code event at our school last week. We hosted a main event on Wednesday and offered the option of participating at any time. Any student who signed up and shared with us a digital copy of their completion certificate was entered in a drawing for a $25 iTunes gift card – a pretty juicy prize. Here’s the lowdown on how it went:

  • It was a little tough to get people to sign up – we have a constant rotation of posters in school, and some kids probably have a version of “banner blindness” when something new goes on display. (We also had planned on promoting this event at an all-school convocation, which didn’t work out – so the promotion was a little smaller-scale than we would have liked.)
  • Flipside: The small number of participants made it possible to offer personalized recommendations based on students’ interests.
  • We had kids at every level from total beginner to “I studied C# for a while and now I’m working on Javascript because I think it’s more interesting.” I was able to connect a couple of those higher-level kids via email, and I think they were really excited to have someone to talk code with.
  • Games are motivating – either playing or building them. The most popular tutorials here were LightBot and the tute that features Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies characters. I personally liked the Code Combat experience best – enough of a game to be fun, and enough actual code to feel like useful learning.
  • Faculty were generally supportive, but most did not participate. I think some felt that this was One More Thing on top of their regular responsibilities, and some may not have seen relevance in coding. For teachers who are already in a career, most don’t need to know a lot of code; in a 1:1 laptop school, it is important for teachers to understand a bit about how computers work. More than that, a teacher who learns a little code can be a strong influence on students. We need to do more promotion with faculty on this next time – it will help to start more than a week in advance. 🙂

Next time:

  • Our main event may need to be in the Commons area (central to the school) rather than the library (in a completely separate building). This would not only make the event more accessible, it would allow us to offer food.
  • Plan earlier and build more community connections around this event.
  • In our initial planning session, we talked about involving our high-level juniors and seniors, as well as students in our new Engineering cohort. We should pursue these ideas more thoroughly next time to increase participation.

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