Saturday, April 9, 2016

First Graders Can Code!

First Graders Can  Code!

This year I have really committed myself to adding more and more technology into my teaching.  
I see how our world is changing and I think incorporating computer science into my day is a big MUST!

So... you say, what is computer science?

computer science... 
is the study of computers and computational systems. Unlike electrical and computer engineers, computer scientists deal mostly with software and software systems; this includes their theory, design, development, and application.
Principal areas of study within Computer Science include artificial intelligence, computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human computer interaction, vision and graphics, numerical analysis, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics and theory of computing. 
Although knowing how to program is essential to the study of computer science, it is only one element of the field. Computer scientists design and analyze algorithms to solve programs and study the performance of computer hardware and software. The problems that computer scientists encounter range from the abstract-- determining what problems can be solved with computers and the complexity of the algorithms that solve them – to the tangible – designing applications that perform well on handheld devices, that are easy to use, and that uphold security measures. 

Coding, also called programming, is a part of computer science.
So, what is coding?  According to (, coding is
just instructing a machine what we want it to do. Anytime you are instructing a machine what to do, you are coding. That could be writing python code, that could be setting the alarm on your phone.
The point of teaching kids to code is that machines are becoming an ever more important part of our lives and an ever more important part of society and the economy.
Those who are good at instructing machines will have an easier time navigating the life that is in our future.
This seems overwhelming, right?  Thinking that first graders would be able to code?  They are too little!  They are too small!  No way can a little first grader do that.  Coding is for older kids.  Like, college kids.

I bet you have thought one of those sentences before.  Before I started looking into computer science and realizing how important it is I thought the same kinds of things.

But, then I realized...

Kids are like sponges.  
They learn so much when they are little.  They just soak up all the information they can.  Coding is like learning a new language.  We start teaching how to speak a new language early so why not start teaching my kiddos a new language too.  The language of code!
Now you may think, gosh!  This wonderful :) teacher must know how to code herself.  She must be an expert on the computer.  She must be a technology wizard.  The IT go getter!  (hehehehe)  She is teaching coding to her first grade class and she isn't afraid to do it. (ahhhhhhh)

Well, I am here to tell you that none of that is true.  I am NO expert.  Just a plain first grade teacher who is passionate about her job.  Trying to get my students to learn as much as they possibly can and willing to take a leap and try new ways of teaching my students.

We are in a technology era!

Kids LOVE technology (I do too)!

What does my son want to do when he gets home from school?  Play with his iPad, play with video games, or play on my computer.

We need to change our thinking to meet our students needs.  Using our iPads (1:1) while learning is amazing.  I have 100% engagement!  Who doesn't want that.

This year I have incorporated coding into my weekly schedule.  I started out small.  On Friday's in the afternoon, we would get out our iPads and go to Tynker.  I got the students hooked on it and begging for more!  (Mrs. Wolfe, Can we go on Tynker?  Please!!)  The students loved coding.  They thought they were just playing games but they were learning how to code in FIRST GRADE!!!

There are numerous websites to help students or anyone learn how to code.  Most of them are free or have free lessons you can do.  They have challenges or puzzles that students can complete to learn how to code.  Here are a list of some:

After my class used Tynker for awhile and felt more comfortable with block coding I knew how I was going to bring even MORE excitement to coding.
My school recently purchased Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop.

Dash an Dot are robots.  First Graders playing with robots???  Yes!!!  Dash and Dot were a perfect addition to adding more excitement to coding.

My students got to see the block coding come to life.  They got to see their actions in the block code make the robot move.

I learned so much too by getting out the robots.  I knew coding was important but I realized how important it is for everyone to learn and how many skills it works on.

Here are some of the skills I found coding works on:

following directions
problem solving skills

I know, I couldn't believe coding would work on SO many skills, but it does.

My students asked me if we could use the robots everyday this week.  I think they are hooked!!  (yay!!)

Check out this video of some of my students checking to see if their robot worked after they coded using the Blocky app

They get SO excited when the code is correct and Dash follows it.  It builds up their confidence.  

I told them numerous times that when they do coding that they will FAIL and that is okay.  It isn't going to be easy.  It is going to take practice and persistence.  It is going to take following directions and problem solving.

Failing is okay!!

Yes, failing is okay!!!

Just keep trying and you will get it!

Just like the Wright Brothers kept trying.  They have to keep trying.

I had some students who were ready to give up.  I just told them to keep trying.  Follow the directions and make sure your code says that.  Keep trying!  You can do it!  When the students then would figure out the issue, they were beyond excited about it.

Playing with robots were amazing this week!  First graders learning to code was amazing this week.  First graders are amazing!

Please give coding a try!!  Your students will love it and it should be incorporated into your curriculum. 

Just like Steve Jobs.  It teaches you how to think!  Isn't that what we want our students to do and be able to do?

Thanks so much for stopping by!

       Have a Wolfelicious day!

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