Thursday, December 22, 2016

My View of Computer Science EDU Week - 2016



This year Computer Science Education Week was December 5th - December 9th and I was able to expose many students to a variety of computer science concepts.  This is my fourth year participating in Computer Science Education with middle school students, and each year, I always get positive feedback from the students.  




The 6th grade students completed the Hour of Code on code.org, in which they can pick from a variety of topics or themes to learn computer programming. Additionally, teachers can select the 'teach' option and filter by grade level to teach a semester or year long course on Computer Science concepts.  Visit their website at code.org for more information.
  





The 7th grade students used Google's CS First and Scratch to learn computer programming.  The CS First interface allows the teacher to have a dashboard that can track student progress throughout the module.  Students login to CS First using their G Suite for Education account, watch the videos and reflect on their learning.  At the end of the video segment, they use Scratch to write block base code to complete the task at hand.  

Teachers will need to create a club and have the students join the club using a club code.  Once they join the club, they will receive a random username and password. These credentials will be used to login to Scratch.  Essentially, students will be flipping back and forth between CS First and Scratch.  When students complete the block base code in Scratch, they must share it with the teacher.  At this point, the teacher will be able to access the project through the dashboard and the students will receive a digital badge. 




This year, I tried something new with the 8th grade students.  I had the students hard code using Python to create music using EarSketch.  Python is the computer programming language displayed in the image above.

First, the students needed to learn about the EarSketch interface, and the proper terminology.  Click here to view my Vocabulary Reference Sheet.  After they were familiar with the interface, I introduce a few Python commands and I discussed a connection of the command to a real-life scenario that they can relate to.  Additionally, I stressed the importance of the correct syntax of the command.  

After the introduction was over, the students were ready to code.  They needed to create an account to save their programs.  They were able to write the code, run the program, and troubleshoot it if there were errors.  The purpose of the program was to produce music using the fitMedia() command.  I was happy to see many of the students were able to produce the proper requirements for the output, which was music. They were able to enhance their program to include multiple tracks, multiple instruments, and pauses.  

When the students completed their program, they needed to share the link with me in a Google Form so that I can check their work.  I created a short screen cast on the sharing procedures and used Google Classroom to make my resources available.  The Google Form allowed the students to reflect on their learning, and allowed me to read their honest opinion about the lesson.  

Some responses:

"I like how we learned about one coding language but i would like to learn more and try more coding." ~ Noel

"I kept having errors in my coding. So i solved it by running it little by little to find out which line was the problem." ~ Na'Jualin

"I liked how to put the different sounds together to create a different and unique music. I loved it a lot. It is very fun." ~Saloni

"I liked it because we learned more about Python coding." ~ Evan

"I didn't really enjoy this activity, I do not like coding I did it because I had to and it was apart of my grade." ~ Alexa

In conclusion, I will continue to use these tools to implement Computer Science concepts into the classroom. Not only are the students learning a new language, they are learning important skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, logical thinking, collaboration and more. I explained to them that failing is a method of learning, and having patience with it will help them persevere to accomplish their goals.

In 2017, I will continue to teach the students about Computer Science using the tools stated above, plus using robots. I plan to teach students how to create mobile apps for their devices. I feel these skills are essential for students to succeed in the future.

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