Recently we’ve been working with schools in the Hunter Valley and introducing them to a new exciting world.
The first day saw us working with a group of Year 7 to 10 students, predominately boys.
The second they discovered they were creating their own video game on the Hopscotch app, we had them.
As an introduction to coding, Hopscotch is fantastic!
Visual enough to be accessible to junior school coders but with enough complexity to pull in secondary students.
We set the lessons out as missions; to create a version of “Frogger” from the ground up.
By first break, normally when you have to stand in the doorway to block escapees, no one moved.
I’m not even sure they noticed until someone said “There’s the bell, let’s just stay here!”
“I’ve never seen that before, like magic,” their classroom teacher exclaimed in shock.
By the end of the day they had gone way beyond my understanding of what the app did, and that’s the point.
You want them to go beyond.
They don’t need to see you as the font of all knowledge, they need you as the catalyst.
Students who worked out the more advanced functions came to the forefront.
They became the educators, the trainers for their peers and the surprising thing was that it wasn’t the loud ones.
More often that not its the quiet analytical thinkers that step up and become ‘champions’.
When you look across the room at 3pm to see every head lowered in concentration and desperate to add one more line, you know you’ve tapped into something special.
Throughout the week we ran the coding sessions in various schools with age groups from Kindy to Year 10, focusing on real world problems.
For example we asked Year 6 to create a game to help Year 1 learn two-digit addition.
Coding offers students the chance to create with purpose.
There are some great, free iBooks on the Apple store and a multitude of tutorial videos on Youtube so take the plunge and get ready for a class full of engaged problem-solvers!
Andrew Wright is a classroom teacher and lead consultant at iTeacher, offering iPad/iOS Professional Development for schools and educators. Visit iteacher.net. au and follow @iteacherPD on Twitter and on Facebook.