District Participation in Hour of Code

District Participation in Hour of Code

Students across Northampton public schools joined half a million other students worldwide last week to engage in the Hour of Code. Designed as a week to emphasize that every student can learn to code, the Hour of Code takes place every December during the Computer Science Education week. Supported through the efforts of the Tech Integration Specialist team, Kate Jopson (NHS), John Crescitelli (JFK), Rocky Mariani-Prall (RK Finn Ryan Road/Leeds) and David Cantler (Bridge Street/Jackson Street), the entire team of Tech Integration Specialists joined together to schedule time with teachers in the computer labs, classrooms and libraries for students to explore different coding options.

At the high school, Kate began the discussion, encouraging the district schools to participate, sending information to all integration specialists on ways to create engagement and ramping up the enthusiasm leading up to the week. Pairing with librarian Karrisa Fabin, students were provided an extra treat as Ms. Fabin was able to have two drones donated for a drawing for those students who participated. Chromebooks were available in the high school library in addition to the iMacs for students who wanted to take an hour to piece together creative clusters of logical steps.

At the middle school, students filtered through the computer lab with John asking questions about who had coded before, what types of programs the students had explored and guiding them to some optional sites to introduce coding to beginners, and to challenge advanced coders. If John wasn’t in a lab, he was rushing to another classroom to assist the teacher in running a classroom on chromebooks exploring coding sites. On the first floor, another tech classroom led by Terry Habel was having her students on code.org as well.

In the elementary schools, Hour of Code posters hung around the buildings with pictures of famous people discussing the importance of computational thinking. David and Rocky guided classes in the computer labs, libraries and on chromebooks to try out code.org, Blocky, and Kano.

While Hour of Code was designed as a way to demonstrate all students can code and that computer science is no longer reserved to a select group of individuals, it quickly became clear it was also no longer a dry discipline of crunching complex strings of data. “It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity,” founders shared on the official hourofcode website. Nothing could be more true as one walked through the classrooms last week to see bright colors exploding on the screens, characters moving through complex mazes and blocks of code being dragged into place among other complex instructions.