Coding Books 3

Code.org has had a tremendous impact on the global interest in computer science education, and in particular, on the development of the computer science initiatives in the NYCDOE.

Although their curriculum is no longer published in book form (download instead), up until 2018 they were shipping bound books.

Their Computer Science Fundamentals book checks in at just over 300 pages of dense text and relatively mediocre black and white illustrations (the online downloadable version is full color).

It is also filled with offline (unplugged) activities whose goal is to familiarize students with coding concepts (e.g., conditionals, repeat looks, variables) without being on the computer. There are also sections on digital citizenship.

All in all, it is a mixed bag. I like the pages that show how to do graph paper programming, which is an effective way to introduce students to algorithms

. .

I use their Graph Paper Programming in my Adapted Coding Workshops that I offer to teachers.

The content that I had less success with the students was Getting Loopy, which introduces pattern recognition and loops. The students did the worksheet, but did not seem to gain a greater understanding about loops.

pdf version

 

Treasure this Code

This student is hard at work on code.org. In this video, he uses repeat blocks and movement blocks to have the sprite pick up treasure. Cool spiraling action!

Practicing Block Coding

Sometimes a student needs to practice coding with blocks. This Notebook software lesson on the smart board helped this student prepare for the real thing on code.org.

And Away We Go(de)

And away they code! It should come as no surprise that when student will complete a level, he may pump his fist in victory!

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Teaching in the 36K Computer Lab, part 6

Part 6, Block Coding

My goal for the time I was in 36K was to teach students computer programming, aka coding. I began by discussing robots and commands. Now it was time to transition from spoken commands to a live person/pretend robot (move forward, turn right) to block commands (rectangular blocks with arrows pointing in the direction the robot is supposed to go).

Here is an example of a command block for making an on-screen character move one step to the right (or East). It is from the code.org website.

In the code.org environment, command blocks are stacked in a column, like puzzle pieces, to create a sequence of commands (i.e., an algorithm). Below is an example of five East blocks attached to a “when run” block. This means that when another block, called a “Run” block, is pressed, then these commands beneath the “when run” block will activate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I told the students that pressing the “Run” block is like when you press a light switch: the electricity begins to flow through the wires and the light bulbs and light is created. So in the same way, you press the “Run” switch here, and something else happens there (in the “when run” section).

[BTW: Code.org is a great resource to learn programming: it lets teachers set up classes, assign exciting challenging courses, and track student progress. More on this later]

Here is an example of an on-screen robot being commanded by an algorithm. There is a “repeat” block in use. Do you think the code is beautiful? (The code.org doesn’t think so)

What would you do to beautify the code? Here is a screen shot. Do you see that the robot has already moved one space to the right in the screen shot?

To be continued

Studio. Code. Scratch. Art.

Put it all together and you get https://studio.code.org/. It is part of the whole coding-in-school endeavor. ANYWAYS, I went to the website (thanks for the heads-up, Lionel) and modified some kid’s existing project. The one I worked on was done in Scratch coding, which is this drag-and-drop block coding methodology.

Here is a picture of the code:

Code

When I press a “play” button, the code activates a little guy who draws a picture on the canvas. By changing the number of degrees the guy is supposed to turn (see last line of code), I was able to get some incredible designs.

See for yourself:

Here he is in action:

spiral

Try it yourself!

https://studio.code.org/projects/artist/r7zYG3wEG88ASvNeO5hFAA

 

May 2022
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