Category Archives: Tech Resources

Helping Others Hack Learning (and Coding)

Last week (#TeachTheWeb week 4), I had an opportunity to build a new Thimble project outlining my goals for teaching coding in kindergarten. Some of you might be surprised to hear kindergarten at the end of that sentence. I’ve heard some people say it’s way too young for kids to have to learn something like coding and I’ve heard others say that there’s no way such young children can grasp the concepts.

Code in K

My response is that, like everything else in early childhood, the key comes back to developmentally appropriate practice, which involves respecting the child’s interests and curiosities as well as her or his individual abilities and limits. Luckily, more and more resources are being developed that are developmentally appropriate for young children. For many years, Scratch has been a go-to resource for educators working with young children who wanted to be makers and creators of technology (and art, stories, music, and more!). Unfortunately, Scratch is specifically built for children age eight an older, although much younger students have used it (check out these examples).

While Scratch Jr. is in the works, other developers have been working hard to create games and tools to scaffold children’s learning of computer programming logic and problem solving, the true foundation of coding (see the resources embedded here). The DevTech group is even working on a coding language that can be constructed with physical, wooden blocks and read by a camera. Once students are exposed to these (potentially literal) building blocks, they can begin to work off of that foundation and create their own programs and games.

Tangible Coding Blocks using CHER-P.
Image credit: DevTech TangibleK

I built my Thimble project to help raise awareness about the fact that resources do currently exist for young children to learn the logic of programming and the basics concepts (e.g., what is a function, how to make an object/sprite move). I also wanted to share the tools I’ve found to support this learning so that others could use them as well and my hope was to then connect with other people who are doing similar work.

Over the summer, I plan to spend more time creating plans, finding resources, and talking with others interested in introducing coding to young children. Being part of Teach the Web has also inspired me to try and create more Thimble resources and maybe even an entire Hackable Kit that others can build off of and remix to work with different ages and groups. I realized that if I want my students (and colleagues) to be creating and remixing the web, I need to be modeling that work by constantly interacting and exploring hacker tools, coding the web myself, and sharing my work openly with a larger community. 

I’m Helping to #TeachTheWeb – Join Me!

Yesterday, I dove into a new MOOC called Teach the Web started by Mozilla and created by a Webmaker Mentor Community of people around the world who are determined and passionate about helping people be empowered to “CREATE the web, rather than just consume it.”

They have a great intro video (that WordPress won’t let me embed) here:

mozilla video

I love the course motto: “Let’s teach the world the web. Together.”

That openness and community aspects are a key part of what drew me to this course, especially after realizing how value the support and relationships were to my learning and involvement in #etmooc.

With summer around the corner, I also like that the MOOC is not too long (9 weeks) and is explicit about the idea that people can participate as they’re able and join at anytime. I’m also excited because the topics align well with work I’m doing right now around examining the Maker Movement, makerspaces, learning to code, learning through doing/making, and integrating that work into education and life as a whole. As Mozilla says, one goal is that by the end of the MOOC, you will be empowered and interested to #teachtheweb #4life! 

To jumpstart my involvement with the MOOC, I participated in the live events yesterday, including a Live Stream conversation and a Twitter chat. I’m excited that Twitter chats will be a part of the experience because I think they’re a great way to get to know participants better and spark conversations/ideas that can be continued later in other spaces and ways. I also created a new Thimble project as my introduction. The project proved to be a great opportunity to practice more coding (I struggled a while to get the bullets look the way I wanted!) and apply some skills I’ve already learned.

my thimble profile

One of the things I’m most excited about are the Study Groups and the new Google+ community we started with people interested in discussing and learning more about how empower young learners (K-2nd Grade) to teach the web and engage in making. These MiniMakers are the future of the web and I think it’s important for them to have opportunities to engage in creative, open, and meaningful projects that let them create technology.

minimaker google plus logo

Are you working with young learners and interested in helping them become makers, coders, and creative learners? Join our group! After #etmooc, I can attest to the fact that being part of a community (and the shared inquiry, brainstorming, creation, and support that result from joining) is the best part of a connectivist MOOC.