Hour of Code

*blows the dust off of her tumblr blog*

Okay so I have really slacked once again here. It’s my own fault. I haven’t felt much of an urge to write these past few months, and I’ve been busy, too. I really just need to write a few posts at a time if I’m motivated and go that route, but then again, I’ve not been as motivated. Let’s start this first post of the new year, and the first post in many months, on a good note.

Last month was Hour of Code. I had wanted to make sure I participated in it this year, and kept an eye out for sign-up dates. I was actually able to get my entire elementary school involved, and none of the teachers had a problem jumping on board, as long as I was going to be doing most of the running the show. We decided to apply for the $10,000 technology
grant, and though we didn’t win, I was happy to see that I could get the entire staff on board. We had set up a schedule for every teacher, and I set about putting up posters in the school, getting the local newspaper involved, and setting up the activities for students.

I had really wanted a guest speaker. Unfortunately, the speakers listed on the Code.org website for our area were few and far between. If they had widened the distance search, it would have been better. However, being in a rural area is very difficult, especially when it comes to getting volunteers in this particular field. I did end up trying to contact one, but
never heard back. Thankfully, a parent, whose child I already had in my SES Coder Kids and Lego League, worked for IBM and was able to get the day off to come and speak at a whole school assembly.

Our kick-off day was on December 9th. Immediately I had issues. Our computer lab, which is a virtual lab, was down once again. I really loathe the lab for many reasons, and this is one of them. We have so many issues with these computers, and my principal is to her breaking point with them. I’m sure if she had her way she’d take them out into Rt. 50 and run them over, ha! Anyway, thankfully we had the iPad carts so I was able to commandeer both of them for use during our Hour of Code event. I alerted the teachers, and we were set to go.

At promptly 9, our kick-off begin. We got all K-5 students into the cafeteria for the presentation. I began by discussing computer science and its importance, and then our guest speaker, Michael Haines, took over. He talked about his job at IBM and some of the things IBM was currently doing to help make a difference in the world. The kids loved him, and were ready to get started.

All of my older students in 2nd – 5th grade could choose from one of 4 of the different activities on the Code.org website- Minecraft, Star Wars, Frozen, or Flappy Bird. Many students were able to complete one of the activities and start another. My kindergarten and first grade students actually did the Course 1 work instead, since it required very
little reading, and was more intuitive for them. I was very impressed with some students who took to coding like it was no big deal. So many students laterwould come up to me and tell me how much fun they had, and could they join SES Coder Kids?

I was definitely hoping to hear the latter, as I wanted to grow the club numbers some more. I had figured that many kids hadn’t joined because they weren’t really sure what SES Coder Kids was really about. Now that they’d had an hour to try their hand at coding, they wanted more. I decided that after the event I would hand out more forms.

The local paper did show up in the end, though they didn’t get back to me until the day of the event. The reporter asked me to send him some information and answer some of his questions, and then he came out to take pictures when I was working with a third grade group. It ended up being a half page article the very next week, and it was a wonderful read. You can check it out below:

Oh and remember how I said I was going to pass out forms for new members? Well I did a week after the Hour of Code event. Before I left for winter break, I had 28 students turn in forms the day after I passed them out. I was shocked and impressed. However, I was unprepared for what I’d find today when I returned to the same school. I ended up with 52 new member forms overall. I was floored. That brought our membership total to 90 students out of about 225 or so. I’m getting closer to having half of the school, and it’s
wonderful. I even had to go from having 4 groups to having 6 groups. Now I have one group per grade level. My biggest growth happened to be in the K-2nd area, which is wonderful since they’ll get to try out coding at such a young age.

I can’t wait to see what happens with my numbers up. I just hope that we don’t have too many snow days or computer outages though. I only get to go to this school 2 times a week, so I see each group once a month. I’m trying to get a parent volunteer to do at least 1 of the days I’m not there, but I’m not sure if anyone will take the bait. Fingers crossed though!

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