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Categories: Coding and Engineering
In EdSurge Case Studies, educators share their real-life experiences with edtech in their schools and classrooms.
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Diane, @dowbiggin
Director of Learning, Innovation and Design (9-12), The Harker School, California
1:1 devices, Bring your own devices (BYOD), College prep classroom, Project-based classroom, and Blended learning classroom

We have a rich and vibrant computer science program, and a requirement that our high schoolers take at least one semester of computer science. Students who take the course I teach do so to avoid taking programming. But I know how important it is for them to at least be exposed to the concepts of programming, and I also hope to change their perception of both the field of computer science and the skill of programming. My students live and go to school in Silicon Valley, and I don't want them to close any doors to future success because they don't perceive themselves as being able to code. So my primary problem was to find a tool I could use to teach my hard-to-reach students how to program that would be very approachable, easy for the to use, and fun. I knew that many tools out there aimed at beginning programmers would be suited more for young children. But my students are sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I also have a lot of female students. I needed a tool that would engage them and not "talk down to" them.

Product Use: I initially used CodeMonkey as one of several tools I tried, all free versions, with my students as coding activities. I soon found that it was the only one worth paying for to use with my particular population. Since CodeMonkey's dashboard allows the teacher to limit how far students can proceed through the challenges, I divided the 200 challenges into segments based on the skills on which they focus (also visible right there in the dashboard), and I spread these segments out across my semester plan. As we reached a new skill set, I could review what we'd done previously and introduce the concepts before having the students complete the assigned challenges. We do other activities (mostly not coding related) in the class as well, so the coding is interspersed throughout the semester. Students are in around the same range of challenges, so they are able to coach one another and nobody gets too far ahead of the rest of the students. This helps them be more effective coaches to one another.

What Worked and What Didn't: This year was the first time I tried limiting their progress (I had not seen that feature before in the dashboard), and I found that to be hugely beneficial. It meant I could introduce a concept before anyone had already dived into those challenges. Having activities we did in class that we NOT digital, that involved students moving around to role play or act out specific skills, such as for loops and defining functions BEFORE they saw them in the challenges, was really helpful. The curriculum provided by CodeMonkey offers some ideas that got me thinking of my own activities to try with my students. I encouraged students to go back and strive to earn all three stars for each challenge. They get a grade (in the projects/labs category of my grade book) for CodeMonkey, and each challenge earns 0.3, 0.7, or 1 point (for 1, 2, or 3 stars earned, respectively). I work in a setting where grades motivate students. But at least they have the choice to go back over a challenge, ask for help, and persevere to earn whatever grade they seek.

Age Group: High school students

Nov 1, 2016 Provide Feedback
Kristen , @FabuLASHfudale
Academic integration specialist, Stow-Munroe Falls City School District , Ohio
1:1 devices and Special education students

I was looking for a way to teach younger children about coding.

Product Use: During the Hour of Code I take the opportunity to introduce all grade levels to coding. I love using Code Monkey with my students in k-4. At first, we usually pair up students to work together in Code Monkey. This way they take turns helping solve the code at each level. They switch leads throughout the levels. I usually spend 4 sessions working with students to use Code Monkey then students continue the challenges on their own. In the various stages of Code Monkey students are using so many problem solving skills, critical thinking, mathematics and mapping skills. Yet, to them it seems like a game.

I understand when a teacher might be hesitant to try a new #edtech product in their classroom. It's natural to want to know how to help every student, but with coding and other 21st Century #edtech products we as teachers need to be the coaches. It's ok not to know the answer but instead be the guide on the side and give the supports that our students need. If we encourage them to keep thinking and try to problem solve with them it becomes a great learning opportunity for everyone involved. Plus, it's a great time to celebrate the mistakes in learning. The more mistakes made the more learning that is occurring!

What Worked and What Didn't: Younger students even when paired up only can get to around level 5 or 6 in the first session, even with a buddy. Yet, they really persevere.

Age Group: Elementary school students

Nov 1, 2016 Provide Feedback
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