Written by Mo Qureshi of BSD Education All Your Questions on the “Hour of Code” Answered What is the Hour of Code? The Hour of Code is designed to show that anybody can learn the basics of code and to broaden participation in the field of computer science and technology. When is the Hour of Code? The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. This year Computer Science Education Week will be from 3rd to 9th December. But you can host an Hour of Code all year-round by registering on the Hour of Code website. Why is the Hour of Code important? Learning to code helps develop problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. Coding requires attention to detail, patience, and develops computational thinking skills and creativity. There must be more to the “Hour of Code” than picking up skills?! The skills are really not what we think is important about the Hour of Code, and you have likely already heard and read all the information extolling the virtues of the mindsets and methodologies of technology development before. The important part about the “Hour of Code” is about giving as many young people the opportunity to try creating technology for themselves. Why is it important to try creating with technology? It’s true that most students won’t become programmers, and the reality is that only a small minority of jobs are even full-time programming jobs. The important point is that all students will not only be using technology in their jobs in the future, but that it will be a fundamental requirement to become employed in a majority of cases. Trying to create with technology is critical for everyone to have equal access to opportunity in the future. How can understanding technology start a student’s pathway to opportunity? Understanding the building blocks of technology, learning to code as we say, is a huge help in being able to understand the world around us and how technology is used and applied. Through this, it’s easier for young learners to think about what their greatest interests are for the careers that they will pursue in the future, as well as the technology that will evermore surround and be ubiquitous to every aspect of their lives. Identifying interests is an important first step to developing the passion to pursue them. Why is technology so crucial to equal opportunity in the future? For many years, the aspirations and dreams of young people have often been predicated on their grades, having a degree and even sadly the name or brand of the institution where they studied. Fortunately, a world that is being driven by technology can be a world of innovation and creativity. You might have heard of the “Innovation Economy”. This will be driven by technology. Through technology, opportunity will be driven not by where it was learned or what grade was achieved, but by what has been delivered and whether it is something people like or choose to use. Opportunity in our future technology reality is not even about being present, people will be able to deliver from anywhere. What unifies careers and access to opportunity for as many people as possible and particularly those that struggle to realise their dreams because they are in underserved communities, is technology. The ability to create it, apply it and solve problems for others with it. Without experience of technology at a young age, without the ability to try to create, write a little code even, the door to these opportunities might never seem open and the reality of success might seem unattainable and distant. The “Hour of Code” being experienced by everyone is not about groundbreaking new discoveries during an hour next week, it’s about levelling the playing field, making a future with tech seem less frightening and more attainable, and laying the groundwork for everyone to have the opportunity to all work towards groundbreaking and exceptional futures together. For the simple chance of realising this, an “Hour of Code” is an excellent investment. What do I need to know to join the Hour of Code?
Written by Brandon Berthrong of BSD Education. Formative assessment is an essential part of the learning process, allowing teachers to assess students understanding of concepts and learning needs. Here are a few of our favorite tech tools that can help make assessments fun for students and easy for teachers:
Quizizz:Quizizz is simple to use, with easily customizable options and a smooth, intuitive interface. One of its unique features is the way it includes memes and player points/leaderboards in between questions. These options add a layer of fun to the experience and are implemented in such a way as to not distract from the material. Quizizz is simple and easy to use, perfect for creating fast, fun, engaging formative assessments. Students take quizzes individually, but teachers can monitor student progress in real time and download performance reports afterward. Kahoot is less streamlined than Quizizz but offers a wider variety of content, including game types like Jumble, where students order items instead of selecting a multiple choice answer. Kahoot has “blind kahoots”, or quizzes designed to teach a concept rather than just test knowledge. Kahoot allows you to save performance data for each quiz just like Quizizz. Kahoot’s main differentiating feature is that quizzes are taken as a whole class, with students engaging with one question at a time as a group. This wider variety of content and focus on group engagement make Kahoot perfect for stimulating class discussion and encouraging students to engage with each other to answer questions. We like using Kahoot for larger reviews or when it’s other game modes are better suited to the subject matter, while using Quizizz to reinforce learning in small chunks that will allow students to move individually at their own pace. The ability of both programs to easily save performance data can open up opportunities for things like keeping a class-wide term scoreboard, tracking individual improvement or highlighting areas that need work.
Video Lessons:Edpuzzle is a platform that allows teachers to take videos and turn them into fully realized lessons. The biggest thing we love about EDpuzzle is how intuitive and easy to use it is; videos can be found, edited, and assigned within the application. Teachers can search popular platforms like YouTube or browse collections of videos by subject and grade level. Teachers can cut the video, add voice-overs or insert in-video quiz questions. These lessons can be used to break up lectures, review, or teach difficult concepts in the classroom, allowing teachers to take full advantage of the visual power of videos in their lessons. The in-video questions can be added throughout the lesson and therefore are ideal for formative assessments, allowing teachers to test for material comprehension as students learn or review.
Written by Brandon Berthrong of BSD Education. The Hour of Code is a world-wide grass-roots program built on the principle that everyone can code. They report that more than 640,000,000 people have participated in the program! While Hour of Code can be done any time of the year, during computer science education week (December 3-9th) organizations from all over the world come together to participate in the program. Participants can do projects on the Hour of Code website or through several affiliated programs, through which they’ll complete various code-focused activities and projects. The idea behind the program is to take an hour (though reportedly 87% of participants end up spending more time than that) to introduce people, particularly students, to the idea that they can code. While Computer Science can seem like a daunting field, through the hour of code students of all backgrounds are able to dispel some of the mystery surrounding it. There’s a lot more that can be gleaned from the Hour of Code than just code though. Teachers and educators can also use different aspects of the Hour of Code itself as a teaching tool.
The School Demonstrating Technology in ActionAs a school, it’s not just the participation, but also the way that you demonstrate your own use of technology in running your “Hour of Code” that can impart important concepts to the students.
- The way you share about your school’s participation within the school’s network as well as through external digital media can set a strong example about digital marketing, and conveying messages to different groups of people.
- Setting up video links and having students and staff in different schools work together during the hour of code can illustrate both the potential for and the power of collaboration in a digital age.
- Polling students about their experience and how it can be improved next year can make them think about user experience and the importance of data.
Students Demonstrating Technology in ActionAs well as participating, students can take simple steps themselves that reinforce the ways that technology is used in the real world.
- Students can get experience with principles of digital marketing through the sharing of their completed projects with both peers and parents.
- By interviewing each other before and after the program, students will be able to consider how the program can be improved for the following year, exposing them to user experience.
- If some students formed an Hour of Code Committee, they could present the feedback from the interviews, giving hands-on experience with data analysis.
- If you collaborate with another school, students could even compare the data from their respective schools.
Written by Xyra Sace of BSD Education In a recent article we released in Issue #7, we talked about the advantages of extracurricular activities like Technology Camps on student learning; how it helps students develop to become well rounded young adults and the real world skills students acquire in camps such as Game Development. Looking for Technology Camps for kids younger than 8 can be a challenge. Many organizations are trying to provide options for this age group because they see it as a business opportunity. However, there are a number of child developmental considerations when choosing programmes for younger children that should be taken into account. For example, children as young as 5 for will likely have difficulties in using a mouse, typing, remembering where the letters on the keyboards are, understanding the syntax of coding languages and let’s not forget the much shorter attention spans. For young kids, we would recommend keeping the phrase “Learning through playing” front of mind. It has been long understood, through practical experience as well as academic work by e.g. Lev Vygotsky and Maria Montessori, that learning through play is a critical element for young children to develop key skills in language, emotion, creativity and social interaction, it pulls together the logical and creative areas of the brain. In practical terms, we have found that introducing Technology with Lego Mindstorms to young kids is more effective than making them code early on. Even in children as young as 6 years old, we have found Robotics with Lego effective to expose them to both the principles and ideas of coding, like logic, and elements of engineering through robotics. The small parts in Lego Mindstorms challenge younger students developing motor skills and coordination. Here’s some of the key benefits of Lego Mindstorms and what kids learn and build in a Lego Mindstorms Camp: 1.) Boosts empathy and awareness In our camps, we ensure to kickstart it with a few intriguing questions: “What type of problems do you face in daily life?” “Are there more people who are facing the same problem?” and “What can we do to solve it?”. Prompting these questions helps young learners begin to consider their environment. This helps them think about the problems they would like robots to solve, these can be as simple as “retrieving an item across the room without having to leave a seat”. 2.) Nurtures Imagination and Creativity When entering the brainstorming process you’ll get a room full of energy and 100 possible answers, this is the time to introduce feasibility. For example, If you need to retrieve an item from across the room, “what will you need?” You will likely need something with wheels on it to move and arms to pick it up. “Do you have these resources available?”. 3.) Introduces engineering Lego Mindstorms encourages kids to build with more variety like gears and levers. It promotes engineering where students can take the various plastic pieces to construct robots, buggies, or devices, while ensuring they can physically “move” or “operate” together to successfully and repeatedly perform a task e.g. making sure none of the pieces fall when the robot moves from a spot to another. Some people opine that the best way to stimulate the maximum creativity in robotics is to first take away the option of using the wheels! 4.) Emphasizes teamwork Building a robot is not easy for kids to finish alone. We encourage them to go in groups to accomplish robots together, even to seek help where they can observe adults nearby or in their class. We help them identify their strengths, as well as start to think about ideas like delegation and having a team leader. One kid can be in charge of putting the pieces together, while another can be in charge of coding the robot. 5.) Teaches programming concepts When building a robot, it is important kids are aware that computers don’t and can’t think for themselves. All technology is based on code, no matter how complex it is. Lego Mindstorms runs on a visual programming environment, which is intuitive for kids because they simply need to imagine what their robot will do, and drag-and-drop plain language blocks into correct sequences using logic. There are on screen technologies to do this like Scratch, however they lack the physical interaction and immersive multi-sensory experience that kids get in creating and using a robot. 6.) Camps are a great opportunity to Improve presentation and public speaking skills At the end of any technology camp, we find it’s a critical capstone event for kids to be able to present their product. Presenting a solution is just as important as making a solution! It is the culminating part of reflection on their experience, reinforcement of their learning and demonstrating important soft skills and pride in their work. Here we have used Robotics as our example. However, the benefits of play based learning will be quite consistent in any camp that is science or technology based. You can be certain that your children will have a lot of fun and be highly engaged to light the spark to learn even more in the future. If you’re interested in bringing our Technology Camps or After School Programs into your schools, let us know here or request a demo.
In Issue 2, we wrote an article about why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of tech because a teacher’s role becomes one of facilitator and contextual expert . Shelly Songy really brings this to life in her article for EdSurge: ‘How a Tough Challenge Taught My Students More About Coding Than I Ever Could’. We’ll summarise what she did here but it’s well worth a read of her article. Shelly was teaching a unit on the basics of HTML when she found herself in front of a class that had surpassed her knowledge with 45 minutes of class time left. She reflects that ‘the realization that the students knew as much, or more, than I did about that topic made me feel very anxious inside’. So, what did she do? She challenged them. At first she challenged them to ‘find interesting aspects of other websites and research and discover for themselves the HTML tags needed to include those in their own websites’ and it was a huge success. ‘What followed was an amazing example of student motivation, creativity, resourcefulness and personalized learning at its best’. Students were in control of their learning and they thrived. This was only the beginning though, only the first project. Shelly’s students, already beyond her knowledge and delivering incredible results, would now progress to a second project taking their learning even further. So how did she manage this? She challenged them again. This time she brought real world application into the mix. She challenged them ‘to design truly professional-looking websites that would be critiques by college professors and published live on the web for anyone to access around the world.’ They were given total freedom to decide what was expected – no set rubric, no timeframes. What did she find? Her own words sum it up perfectly: ‘The results simply astounded me! This open-ended challenge brought out an internal motivation and non-complacent drive within each of my students to strive for excellence and make their websites even better. I was no longer a teacher; I was a facilitator and encourager. The students were empowered. Anything the students needed to know to build their websites, they taught themselves and used applied problem-solving to troubleshoot the errors that arose. I set the expectation extremely high from the beginning of the second website, and they absolutely came through.’ So, what can we learn from Shelley? We think there are two key takeaways.
- Setting students challenges not only allows them to develop their subject knowledge far beyond a standard curriculum, but also brings out creativity, problem solving skills, intrinsic motivation and allows students to personalise their own learning.
- Embrace your role as facilitator. Guide the students through increasingly complex challenges and the results will astound you. Kids have big ideas. Teachers help make them real.
Written by Charlotte Brearley, BSD Education What is the role of educators? Fong Ly, an educator from the US, sums it up well in his article for eSchoolNews: ‘it’s our job to figure out how to equip students with the skills they need to be well-prepared for college and careers’. What do we know about the careers we are preparing students for? Industries are changing like never before so this is a challenging question and actually the answer is fairly unknown. But we do know that the world is digitizing and technology skills are becoming increasingly fundamental to the world of work. We also know that ‘softer skills’, often termed as 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, curiosity and creativity are being held in higher regard than ever before. Given what we know, one of the best ways teachers can help kids to prepare is to give them relevant future skills that also develop softer skills. Introducing coding to the classroom does just that. Here is how: Frequent misconceptions of coding are: It is only for students who are good at math, want careers in technology companies or for ICT Class. Irrespective of what your interests or hobbies are, you will not only use code but also the skills and thinking that is developed through programming (like computational, design thinking, logic and reasoning skills!). Scenario: A few restaurant owners are deciding what to put on their new menu. Before they make their decision, they need to consider what customers generally purchase from their restaurant. Technology enables people to collect data to make data-driven, tactical decisions. Using the Point of Sale (POS) system, it allows the restaurant owners to see which menu items were popular among their customers. They find that the pastas were the most ordered type of food and so they start brainstorming on more pasta options, cooking and testing out which ones perform the best. This is an example of design thinking being used in daily life: Coders may use computational and design thinking every day, but so do restaurant owners and any other person regardless of their backgrounds or industries they are in. This is why coding is the gateway to digital skills and the creation of solutions – it helps you become future-proof. So what does more integration of technology learning in a school look like? Of course it can be an after school code club or it can fit into the computing curriculum, but at BSD Education we believe it should be present in all subjects. Not every student will sign up for a code club or computing course so not all students are given the opportunity to develop these skills. However, by bringing technology projects into all subjects we align these vital skills with the interests of all students thereby helping to prepare them for their future. The subject becomes the context and the projects create a more engaging way for students to either learn the concepts of the subject, or become a content vessel to present what they are learning in the class. Fong Ly and his school, Amana Academy, have the same ethos. He shares their approach to their curriculum in his article – it is ‘based on an expeditionary learning framework, meaning that teachers develop curriculum that involves all content areas and encourages collaboration across subjects. This means we’re training multiple skills at the same time. We identified that coding was a great asset that could be integrated into all subjects…’ Find out more about Long Fy’s approach here. Students can use it and benefit from it at school, home and in daily life, even after their formal education and into their workspaces. Are you bringing technology projects into a range of subjects at your school? Tell us more by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a chance to be featured in one of our newsletters! Interested in learning more about coding in the classroom? Feel free to read more articles here.