Coding and Positive Changes

Our school is in the midst of the Hour of Code.  This year more than ever, I feel like there’s more of presence of how technology, coding and the curriculum are connected. This is due to a number of factors.  A new superintendent, technology coaches and additional teachers are all playing a positive role with this connection.

This year I intentionally looked for ways to incorporate coding into my math classes.  In the past, the coding was fun and beneficial, but it felt as though it was disconnected from the actual scope and sequence of the curriculum.  It was great during the Hour of Code, but then the whole idea faded once school hit winter break.   While searching for curriculum connections, I came across Brian’s fantastic blog.  I started to find direct curriculum connections that I could use for the Hour of Code.  The two different videos that I used are below. Both were used for a fourth and fifth grade classroom.

Both were great in connecting basic coding and measurement skills.  It was interesting to have kids use their schema, as well as trial-and-error to find out how to calculate the area and circumference.  I gave students an overview of the Scratch blocks and let them figure out the solution.

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I feel like this was useful as Scratch helped reinforce skills that we’re exploring in class.  I look forward to incorporating it a bit more as this week progresses.

Side note:  Earlier in the day one of our technology coaches sent the elementary teachers a Google Doc of different coding QR codes (first and third) that can easily be used with an iPad.  This information is available for all teachers to use as needed.  Some teachers need a starting point and this may provide just that. This is one of the positive changes that I noted above.

Coding in Elementary School

Hour of Code
Hour of Code

My class decided to take part in the Hour of Code Challenge today.  Yesterday I began following the #hourofcode hashtag.  The tag was helpful in coming up with a few ideas that I could use in the classroom. Specifically, I decided to expose my elementary students to the idea of creating content through basic coding.  My students have created digital content throughout the school year and I thought this would be a good connection point.  Also, a few students and parents expressed interest in coding clubs that are available at a nearby university.

I arrived early to school this morning to develop some interest.  Taking an idea from last year’s Pi day and #tlap, I generated some interest near the entrance of the classroom.


Students entered and we discussed the idea of what coding really entails.  The class made some connections between coding and games.  Eventually we watched the video below.

The students were excited to see some of the celebrities in the video, especially the President, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.    I felt like the videos helped bring more clarity to the term coding.  Keep in mind that these students are in grades 3 – 5 so the clarification definitely seemed to help.  The class then moved on to the video below.

As a class we completed the first few levels of the Angry Birds coding exercise. Students started to become even more engaged in the activity as we moved to more individualized coding.  I used the iPads and the app Hopscotch for the next activity.  I modeled some of the basic functions of the app and reviewed the directions / vocabulary.


Many of the terms, such as rotate, x/y axis, position and others were review as my classes are in the midst of a geometry unit.  It was also good to point out that these vocabulary words can be found outside of the text-book … definitely an #eduwin. Students were asked to create lines of code that showed transformations, reflections, rotations, scaling, all  while drawing different shapes.  The students were up to the challenge and came up with some interesting examples.

Code Example

I had a few students that expressed interest in researching how to code at home, so I ended up putting a link on my classroom website.  Overall, this was a great activity and I’m glad my students were able to participate.  I look forward to seeing what students are able to create with their newly acquired coding skills and what additional interest develops.