Last week, December 9-15, 2013, was National Computer Science Education Week and the students at Echo Horizon School joined 10,000,000 students in 170 countries for an “Hour of Code.” This event brought attention to the importance of computer programming by encouraging students all over the world to spend an hour engaging in coding at a developmentally appropriate level.
Here at Echo Horizon, students in all grade levels from Pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade engaged in some form of programming activity for at least an hour over the course of the week. As a five-time Apple Distinguished School awardee, integrating technology into classroom learning, and finding innovative ways to do so, is an everyday practice.
The Pre-Kindergarten students "programmed" their friends to follow a certain path by giving and following directional words. The Kindergarten students played Tynker Puppy Adventure, which is a game that teaches basic concepts of programming. 1st Grade students used the Kodable iPad app, a maze game that requires students to use programming concepts such as sequences, conditions, and loops, and Scratch, a block-based programming language, to design geometric shapes. 2nd Grade students used the Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable iPad apps while the 3rd Grade students used games on Tynker.com to learn and practice coding.
4th grade students used the "Write Your First Computer Program" tutorial designed by Code.org which used Blockly, a block based programming language, and Angry Birds characters to teach coding concepts. They also played programming games on Tynker.com in addition to using Turtle Art and Hopscotch, programming apps on their MacBooks & iPads, to write their own original programs to generate geometric patterns. The 5th grade students had a choice of how they would practice coding, either creating a holiday card using the Scratch programming language, playing programming games on Tynker.com, or following the "Write Your First Computer Program" tutorial provided by Code.org. Finally, the 6th grade students worked to build and program Lego Robots to "sing" and/or "dance" to holiday songs. In their classroom, robots could be found moving and shaking to tunes such as Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidl and Jingle Bells!
“The energy and enthusiasm around the various forms of coding was palpable throughout the school,” said Echo Horizon Director of Technology and Director of Curriculum, Elaine Wrenn. “Students were fully engaged in planning, collaborating, troubleshooting, and creative problem solving. This is just one of several hours that our students will spend programming throughout their years at Echo Horizon. This event was a wonderful way to focus attention on the importance of teaching programming in schools.”