Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hour of Code: Student Reflections

As the hour of code continues, I am continually blown away by the accomplishments and enthusiasm of my students (and my 10 year old daughter!).  I teach video game design and development and provide a quest based learning environment using 3dgamelab.  When students complete their quests, they submit the quest, often with a reflection on the activity.  Following are a number of reflections that I pulled out to share.  I will say that the overwhelming thing I am hearing is something to the tune of, "I thought programming would be hard, but...".  If that doesn't sum up the value of the Computer Science Education Week hour of code initiative, I don't know what does.  I am beyond thrilled that so many students across the world are engaging in activities this week to demystify computer programming.  I truly believe this is a game changer in terms of people's attitudes and perspective on computer science.  I'm sure the interest will sustain in many, but regardless, it is raising awareness and understanding in such a HUGE number of students (and teachers).

Before I share the reflections, I want to note that my 10 year old was practically begging us to purchase the full version of the lightbot app after participating in the lightbot hour of code activities which were free.  At $2.99 I think we'll invest :)

Reflections from students:

"I learned a lot about computer programming in this quest.  I thought that computer programming was difficult and complicated all the time, but it can be easy if you really try to comprehend it."

"I learned that the 4 steps of computational thinking are decomposition, pattern location, abstraction, and algorithms.  I had some challenges when a new block was put in like the "repeat until" and "if path" boxes." ~female, grade 8

"I learned how to use the repeat block which I had trouble with at first.  I think it's really cool but challenging to program." ~ male, grade 8

"I am getting to learn more complex programming that actually makes you think through all the steps, compared to before where you just guessed and checked.  I did have trouble choosing some of the blocks and figuring out the number of degrees to use in a couple of places."

"I liked this challenge because it taught me how to make functions and use them." ~male, grade 8

"I felt it was really cool that you could repeat actions.  It is really cool how computer programming works because it's not like how regular life works." ~male, grade 8

"I felt that this quest was easier than the others.  I like this one because the new blocks, the "while" block and the "if" block were really helpful.  I did not have any particular challenges completing this quest." ~female, grade 8

"This was where it got a bit challenging, but eventually through trial and error I figured out the problem and completed the quest." ~male, grade 8

"I really enjoyed this quest.  It was a fun new experience for me creating drawings compared to what I normally do, programming robots.  It was straight forward and showed one of the essential lessons of programming - no matter what you do with programming trial and error is key."

"In the second part of code, the Artist level was a little harder than the first.  I learned more though about algorithms and how computers work and make tasks easier.  A few particular challenges I had were drawing a circle and drawing a snowflake shape on level 18. Overall, it was enjoyable." ~ female, grade 8

"I learned about repeating.  Computer programming seems to work by taking the problem, coming up with a solution, breaking the solution into simpler parts, and finding the best, fastest, and easiest way to accomplish all of these." ~male, grade 8

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  I think it's an incredible initiative and am so pleased to see so many kids exposed to coding.  Hopefully, the day will be sooner, rather than later, that coding is taught throughout the grades.

Please share your experiences.  I find it inspiring to hear what others are doing and how students are responding!