Summer Coding Projects
Before explaining our summer coding projects I should explain a little about education in South Korea. First of all students attend school from March 2- February 28. They have a summer break from the end of July until the end of August. Their winter break starts at the end of December until the beginning of February. Unlike North America, Korean students spend their vacations attending different private academies. For example, my daughter attends piano, violin, math, English, science, and badminton classes during the week and on the weekends. My wife and I own and run our own private English Academy. We see students 1-3 hours a week in small classes of 4-6 students per class. I should also mention that we use a class set of iPads. Summer is a great time to do special projects with my students. This summer we decided to explore coding!
Because I teach grade 1-9 I had to introduce coding with many different apps. For my primary students I started with Kodable.
Kodable was a simple but fun way to introduce coding concepts to young students. I didn’t explain to the students how to play. I wanted them to enjoy the experience without knowing they were actually learning computer science.
The next step was to formally introduce coding to my students and Scratch Jr. was the perfect app to start with. The Scratch Jr. website offers some great curriculum resources to get you started. http://www.scratchjr.org/teach.html I began by walking students through the basics of the app. I showed them how to add and edit characters and backgrounds. Next, I introduced the coding blocks. Each class I introduced more and more blocks. In the end the students created a story based on the storybook we were reading at that time. Scratch Jr. was a great introduction to coding. It didn’t take long for my students to master it and push the app to its limits.
The next logical step was to introduce Hopscotch. Hopscotch uses a similar blocky coding format as Scratch Jr. however is it more advanced. Hopscotch offers numerous in app tutorials for students to follow to create games, 3D puzzles, shapes and many other exciting projects with coding.
We started by creating different shapes. My students were quick to figure out the different shapes because of their strong math skills. As you can see from the above photo, they combined the different shapes to create a house. Once they were comfortable with shapes I challenged them to add a background and other objects to complete a picture.
After a few classes, students moved on to the game tutorials. I was surprised how quickly and easily they completed the games, even though my students do not speak English as their first language. I only needed to assist them with finding emojis on the iPad keyboards. With their games completed I challenged them once again to upgrade their games by adding more advanced features from games that their classmates created. This was also a great way for students to teach each other. For example, students who completed the geometry dash game taught other students how to add a running score to their games. Once their games were completed students published their games so their classmates could could play them.
My students write weekly journals and reading logs to build writing skills. To document our coding projects I wanted to create a coding journal. However, a paper notebook would not be suitable for this kind of project. A few colleagues Paul Hamilton and Richard Wells suggested I use Book Creator. My students were familiar with the Book Creator app and it would be very easy to add photos and videos of their creations. After adding photos of the code and creations I asked students to write about the process and challenges they faced when learning to code. My younger students needed more assitance with grammar and sentence, however, I was very happy with their journals.
Our coding summer is not quite over yet. My plan is to finish with Sphero. My plan was to use the Tickle App because of its similarity to Hopscotch. However, Sphero Ed just released a simplified version of their MacroLab. In the fall I’m planning on introducing students to MinecraftEdu: Computercraft and Learntomod.