My First Attempt at Coding.

Yesterday in ECMP 355, we talked about coding. I heard the term “coding” before but I had no idea what it was or what it did. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understand a code to be what is used to make websites, web programs, apps, or games. A code is like a set of instructions that allows a person to tell a computer what they want it to do. This sounded really complicated to me, and I thought I never used a code in what I do online. But Katia explained that when I click on the text editing mode and put a picture into my blog, the great big long line of letters and numbers I get is an html code. I know I did not make this code but thanks for boosting my confidence Katia for reassuring me that I do know what a code is. I was excited to try to code something of my own….until I actually tried. I was SOOOO frustrating!!! My main frustration stemmed from the fact that I had a vision of what I wanted to do but I could not figure out how to do it. In the beginning, I wanted to have the crab crawl across the bottom of the sea with a school of fish swimming above him and a frog jumping up and down on the bottom of the ocean. It took me close to two hours to get the crab to crawl across the bottom of the ocean. So, I ended up settling for just the crab and one fish. As well, I was frustrated by the fact that the instructions, I put in said ‘ten steps’ or turn ‘fifteen degrees’ but that’s not actually how much the animals moved. So to get the fish to turn in a full circle it was a lot of guess and checking to see how many ‘degrees’ I needed for him to go in a full circle because it was not 365 degrees like I thought it should be. And then the guess and test method took forever because I could not figure out how to reset the fish to the beginning if it did not end up where I wanted it to. So, I would delete the fish and start again. I am sure there is a much easier way to do this but I could not figure it out.

I think coding could be a valuable leaning experience for students because they would have to use their problem solving skills. In math, students often use guess and check when solving word problems. To effectively solve word problems using the guess and check method, they have to develop a system to follow. Having the students practice their problem solving skills in a visual manner will help some learners to then better implement them in math. As well, coding is a beneficial learning activity for students because they are asked to see the big picture (finished product) and then break it down to see each individual part.

However, I don’t think coding is valuable learning activity for all students. As teachers, I think we need to realize that some student would really enjoy and benefit from learning how to code and others would find it very frustrating, confusing, and/or stressful. If I was to have my students engage in a coding activity, I would also provide alternate activities that would have the same learning benefits so that students could chose as to what they did. For example, students could make a short video clip where their characters are made out of plasticine and they have to move the characters a little bit at a time to make a fluent motion in the video. Students would be developing the same skills but in a different manner that might not be as frustrating.

Check out my first coding project- Under the Sea!! Click on the green flag to see the animals play under the sea.



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