Day 31 (of 185) coding centres (final prep for fridays @cuebc pro-d day(
I won’t give away too much, but I always like getting ready for sharing things like coding centres. It’s always fun to re-explore, re-think, re-flect and re-practice good ideas when they are in the hands of multi-age learners….
My coding centres came about most recently (and more focused) thanks to #hourofcode – and the challenge/opportunity to have more students thinking about coding …. and realize that it’s not the image of lonely people in basements – that it is a vibrant way of thinking and doing!
I appreciated the book The Innovators by Walter Isaacson which pointed out how the first coders were females…something I like to share when students (and parents) say “its a boy thing” – coding is so much more than a gender specific job. From Ada Lovelace to Steve Wozniak, coding has continued to be as much about “thinking” as it is about “programming”.
I try to design my coding centres in three stages: emergent, exploratory and expertise:
My emergent stations (which I focus my kindys and early primary students on) have a lot of hands-on opportunities while also forcing them to work collaboratively –> sharing and knowing that what they are making may be broken or changed by future students. It’s an important mindset – that very little is ever “done” and things can be re-examined and re-purposed and re-imagined over time.
My exploratory stations (grades 3-5ish) expand on the hands-on nature of some stations (like lego and graffiti) and start to push them onto more screens…and there is no shortage of web-based and app-based programs to drive them into zones of frustration!
I choose “zones of frustration” meaningfully – because at all ages, I prepare the students for the fact that depending on the centre, they will be frustrated. Either because I am not giving them enough time to really explore the centre or because something isn’t going easily. So we talk about what “frustration” can mean – and that a little bit of frustration is okay (which is why I keep the first week of centre exploration to about a minute each) but staying frustrated isn’t good.
Which is why I also add in some centres that are more (?) about self regulation than just coding….though there is often a fair chunk of overlap….but more on that on friday
My expertise stations can often duplicate as exploratory – consider minecraft – it can easily begin with a “game” feel to it, but can quickly expand well beyond that. My son did an application to a project based learning program via minecraft, and some genius created a scientific calculator using it: Minecraft Scientific/Graphing calculator – Sin Cos Tan Log Square root …
and just because we are at school, it doesn’t mean we have to/need to limit the creative possibilities of our students. I’m pretty certain that the mindshift coding will have on how the library is seen and used is going to lead to so much more – maker spaces, and mobile technology are the natural next-move when exploring coding.
I’m looking forward to sharing the ups and downs of using centres as a way to bring learners into coding. And also share how I/we have to “embrace the chaos” (or “trust the process” – depending on the adult comfort levels) and roll with students who are sometimes for the first time responsible for their own learning and doing and sometimes the only “help” they have is to try something different….and coding has so many different levels of accessibility and use ability – from visual blocks to drop to html and beyond!
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