Sunday, December 13, 2015

More Than Just an Hour of Code

This past week I hosted the Hour of Code at my new school.  As I mentioned earlier, this school is new to me and as much as I am part of this new school community, I am also the primary teacher for the new SAIL program within our district.  This means in some ways I work for both SAIL, and I work for my new school.

A few of the students in the new school know me because my students and I integrate into their PE classes, or I know them as my "field trip friends" because my class will be sharing a school bus with them.  We've also connected with a class when we have our presentations from the aboriginal culture workers. I've had small chat with many students, but my reality is, I don't know many of the students outside of the SAIL program.

One way to try to fix that is that I decided to host the Hour of Code for the entire school. A week earlier I had daily announcements made inviting students down to my classroom (a part of the school most students don't even know exists) to sign up for one of five tutorials.  Throughout the week I had heaps of children drop by and by Friday afternoon over 100 students had signed up.  How exciting I thought to myself.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) because of the large numbers of students, and the limited access to devices, and the size of my classroom, I broke the groups down into thirds with each group being invited either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday at lunch.   These students did not disappoint and my room was packed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Each child had their own log in card and I was able to get them all up and running.  The beauty of is that students can start a coding tutorial at school, then continue it at home.

As the week progressed things started to change for me.  As I was walking in the hallways more students were coming up to me to say hello, and to ask if was their day to come for coding. They wondered what would happen on Thursday and Friday after every group and been through for their first attempt at the hour of code.  I was slowly becoming the teacher who does coding vs just a body that was seen in the hallways from time to time.  Student were starting to say hello to me by name.

I continued the week of coding over lunch, and on Thursday and Friday anyone was invited to spend the lunch hour with me.  Slowly I too got to know more of their names, and it made me smile to be able to feed their coding curiosity.  I was able to set them up in other tutorials, and to send a few of them home with some bitsbox information.  I was no longer that person they saw in the hallways from time to time, I was an equally important teacher in the school.

I hope that with time the rest of the school community will take notice that as much as I teach in a district program of choice, I am still a teacher, and I want to have a positive influence on any students I come into contact with.  Sometimes being part of something different, people think you aren't really there for them, but that is so far from the truth.

Hosting the Hour of Code has helped bring me into the school's community, and it has made the rest of the school community know that I am there for them too. It's gone way beyond just "the hour of code".  The best part for me (and I hope the students too) is  how excited I am to continue this "coding" with a weekly coding club the rest of the year.  I can't wait to share some of the incredible things these wonderful students will get up to.

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