Girls Who Code: #SaveTheTurkey

As I sit here and wrap up week 2, my heart is SO FULL.  Granted, it was a two day week so it went by fast but friends.  We are making progress and it is SO FUN.

To recap last week, we busted out the Ozobots to begin the process of laying a good, solid foundation in programming.  I am deviating slightly from the Girls Who Code curriculum because I felt like I needed to lay some ground work first.  (So technically, I’m not deviating as much as I just simply not starting yet.) I introduced the girls to loops, one of the foundations of all programming languages and the Core4 (as described by GWC).  We programmed loops on butcher paper with felt tip markers.  This is where we picked up on Monday.

Class Prep

I knew the Ozobots could offer my girls more than just felt tip marker programming.  While this is great for young programmers and certainly a wonderful introduction, I wanted to go into more depth with my students.  I began browsing Ozobot’s website where I stumbled on their lesson curriculum for educators.  Friends.  Teachers.  Heavens to Betsy.  I hit the jackpot.  The Ozobots have a natural appeal to me because they are easy to use and you can download an app with little to no instruction reading.  (FYI: I don’t ever read manuals or instructions.  I do and I learn. It’s a thing.) On Monday morning as I’m browsing the educator library (click here to check it out!) I discovered the whole Blockly integration with Ozobots.  The more I dug around into Blockly the more excited I became.  Not only did Blockly provide a great example for introducing loops, they provide a great example for introducing ALL of the Core4 fundamentals.  Blockly is leveled and users can select a beginner level 1 and go up to 5.  The higher level they choose the more options they have in their programming.  Enter: functions, variables and conditions. Another reason I am completely obsessed with Blockly (I have used many graphical style programming tools in the past) is the side by side comparison of your graphical blocks and the actual Javascript you are writing.  It is the best visual I’ve seen.  Graphical block programming is a great intro for us but it was very important to me they were exposed to the actual lines of code.  If for no other reason at this time than to simply EXPOSE them.

Class

I think today I actually made a comment to my students that pretty much sums us up.

“When you’re doing things for the first time there aren’t a whole lot of people for which to ask help.  We are going to have to figure it out together.”

I hope they aren’t calling this class the “Murphy’s Law” class (like I sometimes am in the back of my head during frustrating moments) but honestly, nothing has worked the first time so far this trimester.  Literally nothing.  It’s been a ride.  They are patient though and I am so grateful.

On Monday we finished up our butcher paper loops.  Everyone is at different places in my classroom with different abilities.  There is no rush and we celebrate every victory.  Some groups who had finished their marker/paper loop opened Blockly.  Caroline was determined she was going to program her Ozobot to do the Cupid Shuffle.  (Do it, girl.)  The rest of us analyzed the Ozobot to try to determine what type we actually had in our possession.  The great Bit versus Evo debate.  We tried numerous ways, account creations, etc to load our program on the robot to no avail.  We weren’t quitters though and eventually figured it out.

Today I decided we needed a clear objective.  Enter: #SaveTheTurkey.

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I snatched some toys from my sons room, grabbed some butcher paper and set up a turkey obstacle course.  The objective was to program the OzoTURKEY to navigate away from the “oven” (hahahahaha) and into the Turkey Safe Haven.

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Once we FINALLY figured out how to correctly load the programs onto the Ozobot we got in a good groove.  My girls were programming, testing, reading their code, finding their errors and iterating.  OH MY GOSH.  I about died.  We had some hiccups, programs not loading, blah blah but nothing too severe.  I heard “Oh my gosh this is cool” on more than one occasion and I had to talk Jessica off the ledge by promising she could continue working on this after Thanksgiving break.  I have died and gone to nerd heaven, ya’ll.  Such a fun day.

My Reflection

Today was my favorite day.  Truly.  So far this trimester…today wins.

Today doesn’t win for me because everything went off without a hinge (ha! I don’t think that is ever going to happen).  Today wins because I saw determination, team work, collaboration and whole lot of effort from my students.  As I read THEIR reflection journals yesterday I realized that many aren’t in here because they want to be programmers.  Many of them are in this class because they wanted to try something different, because a friend was in the class or simply because they wanted to learn more avenues to help them in their actual chosen career field.  I think it has become my goal to help them find the fun in computer programming and to give them options.  They are so capable.  They are so good, ya’ll.  This is going to be GREAT.

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