Recently I was challenged to experience coding. My first thoughts were ones of terror as I thought of having to understand and use long, complicated, and confusing lines of code, thankfully what I played around with was the exact opposite. I started out with Hour of Code (which didn’t take an hour). It was an easy and fun introduction to coding and getting a feel for how different commands fit together. The goal of Hour of Code is to safely get your character through the different mazes by putting different commands together. I also spent some time doing Coding with Anna and Elsa which is more coding but it is a review of angles. Both of these were fun introductions, after the introduction phase of my coding experience was completed I used the website Scratch to create my own game Zork & The Rocket by putting the coding practice to work. This experience provoked the thoughts and conversation of should we be exposing our students to this in math class.
I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about incorporating coding into math classes. I think it would be a great thing to expose your students to, but I worry about how much time it would take up. It also depends a lot on your students, if they are up to the challenge and if they can appreciate what they’re doing. If I was teaching lower el I wouldn’t even have my students do the hour of code or the frozen coding based on their level of difficulty. In upper el I might consider having them do the hour of code or playing some of the scratch games. It’s my fear that if these were brought up with elementary students you would be running around answering questions and helping students and that the activity and the intended outcome would be wasted. It wouldn’t be until middle school that I would have them do the hour of code and then play some scratch games and look at the coding behind the game. If middle schoolers want to try and create their own game they should be supported, but based on my experience with creating my game, I would think of having high schoolers try it.
Unless there was a new standard on coding I believe taking time away from teaching what is required to teach would not be a good use of time. Teachers are already faced with the dilemma of too many standards to teach and not enough time to teach them in. Having the hour of code or Scratch games would be nice to have as an option for students to be aware of as an option to do during an indoor recess or free time in the computer lab.
I think this was an eyeopening experience and I think it’s something students should be exposed to, but I can’t justify taking time away from required topics to teach such a time intensive topic.