To check out the video about code.org, click here.

Games have opened up many opportunities for differentiation in the classroom. I taught coding to my first graders last year, even though I was worried that it would be too difficult for them. I tried to take a coding class over ten years ago, but I quit after a few weeks. I struggled every day and I found it more confusing than fun. I did learn enough from those few weeks to be able to decipher some code. I wish I had stuck with it and I think about how much easier it would have been if I had started learning to code while I was in elementary school. I’m so excited that students are able to learn it through game playing. I first learned about code.org when I read Stiff’s article. I immediately thought of the girls in my classroom when I read, “To teach computer coding, Hamley uses fun Internet programs and applications like code.org and crunchzilla. Code.org entices girls to learn coding by offering a coding program featuring popular “Frozen” characters Anna and Elsa” (Stiff, 2015). I checked out code.org to see if it is something I could teach to my first grade students. I was excited to learn how “code.org has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing – at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about twenty lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate” (Code.org, n.d.). The best thing about code.org is that students can work at their current academic level, meaning it is differentiated to each student’s ability.

I have thought a great deal about using MinecraftEdu in my teaching, but in Fairbanks, my administration is not supportive of the idea. I have the same issue now that I am in Las Vegas. However, I am not giving up. My principal is very open to hearing ideas and seemed like she was intrigued with the idea. I think she just needs more data on how it will help students. I was excited to read about a teacher who used Minecraft with his second grade class. As Granata (2015) wrote, “The segment that involved Minecraft was intended to last a week, but Levin used the game for the rest of the semester, teaching students to type by allowing them to communicate with each other in the game and showing them how to do online research by trawling the vast Minecraft forums for specific information.” By setting up the game myself, I could plan and program for differentiation. My students would get to work at their level while playing a fun and engaging educational game. I can’t see the downside in that. I believe that the future holds more opportunities for teachers and students to incorporate gaming into classrooms and schools for learning purposes. As Herold (2005) wrote, “Ultimately, though, observers from the gaming and education sectors predict continued growth inside schools, both of Minecraft itself and of other games that seek to harness its open-ended approach.”

References

Code.org. (n.d.). Computer Science Fundamentals for Elementary School. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from Code.org: https://code.org/educate/curriculum/elementary-school

Granata, K. (2015, February). Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/teachers-take-advantage-minecraft-classroom-60294258

Herold, B. (2015, August 18). Minecraft Fueling Creative Ideas, Analytical Thinking in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/08/19/minecraft-fueling-creative-ideas-analytical-thinking-in.html

Stiff, H. (2015, February 16). Monforton Teacher Instructs Coding to Kids. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from Belgrade News: http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_6716d926-ae2a-11e4-959b-13ebce844c1c.html

 

 

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6 thoughts on “How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

  1. Cherie,
    I applaud you at trying to get Minecraft in your classroom. I don’t think that the potential is yet being seen, although the game has been around for a little while now. I love all the new coding sites. The concepts can be difficult to learn at first, but so fun once you get going. I do wish that these were options when I took C++ and C#.

    Josie

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  2. I really enjoyed your video on code.org. I will definitely keep that in mind for some of my younger students. I liked how it started off really basic and built off of that. I could not tell if the directions could be read to the students. Is that an option? How often did you use code.org in the classroom? Was it everyday, or once in a while?

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    1. I had to read the directions to some of my 1st graders last year, but others were able to learn from the videos. I used it a few times a week at first and then as a center for students. They really did love it and it helped them develop resilience.

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  3. I had not heard of code.org and after looking at it, I can see how it is helpful for engaging the different levels of students. I am interested in the High School age and of which it seems like a fairly good program. Of course, I like programs that are free considering the money situation my school is in. I really enjoy seeing the variety of coding and programming the curriculum can offer. It has the ability to look at pixels and how to manipulate them using binary code. WOW! At this moment in time as a high school math teacher, I really feel like coding is needed at my school so I appreciate more materials to look at and consider.

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  4. Cherie,

    I use Scratch with my classroom at the beginning of the school year for them to make meaning out of our classroom rules. They can do just about anything as long as it is tasteful and they rewrite the six rules verbatim. I then start showing them their created videos as a way to review the rules that first semester. The Code.org website looks fabulous and perhaps has won me over from Scratch for my sixth graders. I especially enjoy the kid friendly “games” with characters they know and love. With Scratch, I let them struggle a bit and just play around. A couple students usually have done it before, so they are my resident experts. Code.org is much more user friendly and works them toward an end result using baby steps. Thank you for introducing me to Code.org!

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