District 123 students recently participated in “Hour of Code”, an initiative launched in 2013 and designed to expand participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
This year, Oak Lawn – Hometown School District 123 continued their involvement in the program by extending the opportunity to their Kindergarten through 8th grade students during the week of Dec. 8. Middle school students logged into code.org and began learning basic programming skills using the visual block interface. This platform also presents computer science in an incredibly engaging manner by introducing the concepts through the use of activities based on characters that are familiar to students.
In the opening levels of the Hour of Code, students are programming one of the Angry Birds to navigate through a maze to get to the pigs. As students progress through the levels they are introduced to new challenges.
Many teachers at D123 saw this as an opportunity to engage and challenge students in a unique way. Teachers in subjects ranging from Science to 21st Century Literacy were excited about the opportunity for their students to participate in this event. These teachers not only saw coding as a valuable skill, but also as an opportunity to use critical thinking skills that are easily transferable to their other classes.
Tiffany Strayer, who plans on incorporating Code.org into her curriculum beyond the Hour of Code and teaches 21st Century Literacy stated, “I loved incorporating Hour of Code into my classroom. It required the students to use critical thinking skills, while keeping them engaged at the same time. They were determined to finish a level, and very proud when they were successful. It was fun to see how eager they were to help each other. The Hour of Code activity was a great way to introduce computer science to students of all ages!”
Many other teachers shared the same sentiments when asked about this incredible learning opportunity. When asked about using Code.org in her classroom, Colleen Safka, a 6th grade science teacher said, “My students were very excited to participate in the Hour of Code. Each student was able to choose from a variety of coding activities, all of which included completing very challenging, game-based puzzles. The kids were so proud after earning their certificates and were constantly showing off their coding skills to each other. Many want to complete the full 20 hours and several have moved on to other coding sites to enhance their knowledge! I’m so proud!”
Students in the elementary buildings who also participated were quite excited with their results. What a wonderful opportunity for students to feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.
Code.org stated that its vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.Last year, Code.org launched the Hour of Code initiative in support of Computer Science Education Week. The program was incredibly successful in allowing over 67 million students to participate and to learn the fundamentals of computer programming.