Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Teaching Coding Without a Computer

A challenge for some librarians is to teach 21st century skills using limited resources. When schools have a limited number of laptop, ipad, and chromebook carts often times teachers have these resources checked out and librarians have limited time to use these technologies. I have scoured the internet to find the librarians in my county resources that we can use to teach elementary students the basics of Coding without needing a computer! I am in a fortunate situation that after students come to library and learn the basics about coding, they continue their exploration in the computer lab with more advanced coding modules on code.org and learning.com/coding. So how are we learning the basics of computer programming without a computer? I've outlined my lessons below, and linked each resource to the original poster. Enjoy!

Week 1- I posed this question to my 3rd-5th grade classes: "Who is smarter; a computer or a human?" I had students think about and then walk to the poster of their choice. Then they had to give at least 1 reason/evidence to back up their claim. They wrote this evidence on a sticky note and stuck it to the poster. I then read the choices aloud and we discussed that humans are the ones with brains, and humans have to tell computers what to do! It was the perfect introduction to what coding and computer programming is. It made our next weeks of learning relevant to them! We also talked about future jobs that would require computer programming skills and how our state is pushing for all students regardless of age to learn the basics of computer coding.

Weeks 2-6 (5 weeks of stations) I made a bulletin board that displayed each class roster, divided by color (highlighter) into groups. Then I had each station as a row and each week as a column and spaced out color coded cards so that students knew which station they would participate in each week.

Station 1- Candy Corn Race- Myself, along with a library volunteer made this game by printing centimeter grid paper and putting the paper into a protective sleeve. We placed an arrow pointing upward in the middle square. Students play a game, taking turns and tossing a large dice that has simple directions on all sides like move forward, move backward, turn left, turn right, skip a turn, move opponents piece forward 1 etc. The student moves their game piece according to the direction they tossed. Coding connection- students are more aware of breaking down directions into simple 1 step moves. For example if the dice is tossed to turn right, the player can only turn right, not move forward. It also really helps my students practice turning right and turning left and moving a player from the players perspective instead of their own perspective.


Station 2- Robot Turtles board game by Think Fun (AMAZING!) The students LOVE lasering the ice castles :)


Station 3- Scratch Jr. App (This is my only technology station!)


Station 4- Lego Mazes (idea from http://researchparent.com/coding-a-lego-maze/ )


Station 5- Picture Books (coding a character to get through the story as if it was a video game!) Idea from- The Very Hungry Caterpillar; We're Going on a Bear Hunt; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See