One of my passions is knitting. Knitting is an opportunity for me to create, design and think critically about patterns and “how to” make things I have never created. Knitting is always new learning for me and it also provides a great sense of reflection and rejuvenation as well. When I knit I am often challenged by the patterns and code that I have to figure out. I have been thinking a lot about how knitting and coding connect and also why it is important to explore code with our students.
This year I have been exploring coding using Kodable and Bee Bots. Both of these explorations have revealed some amazing insights into the why behind coding. When my students use Bee Bots they are collaborating and having face to face conversations about what they are trying to get their bees to do. In a very authentic way they are beginning to create learning experiences with a bee that they design and create. The excitement around these bright yellow bees is contagious and all of my students are willing to take risks when engaged with creating their own code for their bee.
Why is this important?
Coding challenges our thinking. It provides all of us to think deeply about an idea, a code and how is it created. When I am challenged with my knitting I engage deeply with the challenge presented because I am passionate about what I want to create. Students are naturally curious and excited about learning and creating what they explore. Coding is an easy and fun way for this to happen.
Coding provides opportunities for even young children to use oral language to have conversations about what they are doing. This is an important part of development for children as they become independent and passionate readers. Through opportunities to interact and solve problems even our youngest learners find ways to create new ideas that inspire further exploration. One day while we were reading our feed on Twitter we noticed another Kindergarten class in Hawaii using a Bee Bot to draw with colors. My students were excited to try this. While we were exploring this idea some of my students decided to put paper on the floor and build a maze using a variety of blocks. They were trying to get the Bee Bots to travel through the maze. This exploration began from an idea that originated outside of our walls. We tried the idea and then it inspired my students to go further in their own thinking. Here is what I saw and what I listened to; So much rich vocabulary and conversation. “We are like programming, we programed our bees, let’s figure out how to make them turn and go right, Hey Mrs. D. we are using math language when we do this, We are thinking mathematically and so much more.”
Later I begin to think about other opportunities to offer in regards to coding. During math time Bee Bots is now a station with task cards I created for the children to use with the mats we have. I have a former student who is now in 2nd grade who comes to Kindergarten weekly to facilitate this station. Using Paint as a way to create our own Bee Bots offers my students another opportunity to create and design what they understand, why also strengthening their computer skills.
So many possibilities in regards to learning to code. Little did I know that I have been coding for a very long time……..