Girls Who Code: Week 4

I will not forget to blog. I will not forget to blog. I will not forget to blog.

You guys.  I’m basically a psychic.  I am writing this post on Wednesday night because I can see into the future and I know I’m going to forget about it on Friday.  This week has been PURE INSANITY and the forecast does not show a break in the metaphorical weather for me.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I also know that I promised myself I was going to blog a recap every week.  My sweet friend Ari in Riverside, CA mentioned my blog post a few days ago to me (Hey girl heyyyyy) and I totally geeked out that someone referenced it (IE: someone read it).  I’m 100% writing this for me so that I don’t forget what I did, how I iterated and where the girls were each week of this process…so the simple fact someone out there is taking away a (even a tiny) portion of what I’m writing is icing on the cake! YAY!

In case you live under a rock this week (December 4th-11th) is the global computer science education week and therefore the #HourofCode initiative.  Last year, as a newbie to my district-wide tech role, I wanted to coordinate some kind of district-wide initiative.  We started with Hour of Code on the Road.  We selected a feeder elementary school for each of our 3 high schools.  Our IT/Networking students at the early college and career center prepared 5 minute presentations that we gave to 5th grade students at each of those three schools in a station rotation style.  It was quite the success!

THIS year I wanted to take it a step further, travel to 3 new schools and bring in our new Girls Who Code students.  Mr. Robbins (our EC3 principal) made them name badges and I’m 99% sure they were just as excited as they would have been if they won the lottery.  It’s the small things, right?  The girls spent Monday and Tuesday preparing their presentations.  We divided our class into two groups (and those groups further divided into to two subgroups):  Ozobots Unplugged (markers) and Ozobots Blockly.  They worked SO hard preparing and practicing their presentation.

During week 4 I also figured out my grading.  This was a unique challenge for me because Girls Who Code was not originally designed as a class.  I wanted to still embrace the project based model and not make my grading standards too rigid.  However, it was important to me this wasn’t just a “fluff” class and the grading was authentic, intentional and set high standards for the girls.  The biggest piece of grading for me at this point in the class is the journal reflections.  In these little babies the girls really have the opportunity to demonstrate their level of understanding.  (If you are leading a GWC club OR class, I STRONGLY recommend the reflection journals. What is the old Einstein quote?  You don’t truly understand anything until you can explain it to your grandmother.  Something like that right? The reflection journals allow the girls to do exactly that.)  The journals have allowed me to pinpoint levels of misunderstanding while also encouraging and providing constructive feedback.  The journal entries were actually the catalyst for my favorite moment of class so far…

One of my girls was revising a journal entry from the prompt from last week.  Once I decided (officially) my grading and that journals were a big part of their accountability, the girls took them a lot more serious.  We started analyzing Blockly versus Javascript right there in that moment together.  I was helping her compare the indentions and the basic grammar of it all.  She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh. It’s just math.”  She then proceeded to explain the rest of the program to me because once she made the connection to basic algebra, the rest was a piece of cake.  I hugged her because I ain’t gonna lie to ya – I had tears in my eyes.  It was beautiful, authentic and it was a flipping breakthrough. That moment went up on our celebration wall and in my eyes she totally won the lottery that day.

The Hour of Code on the Road was the girls first big project.  They will be graded on their presentation as a whole in addition to their part.  By the first “progress” report they will have 3 journal entries and 1 project.  The journals are little more subjective and will have points deducted for revisions made.  The point of the journals is to reflect on their learning for the week while having authentic conversations about the prompts with each other and myself.  Additionally, students will be graded each half of the trimester on our Work Ethic Certification Standards.  At EC3 we really drive these points home and have high expectations.  I want the girls to be held accountable for these standards in an objective way.  They will have a rubric to use to understand their grade on this.  The reflections and work ethics will be worth 40% of their grade.  The projects will be worth the other 60% and will have rubrics for them to use as guidelines.

This upcoming week we will be doing more intentional work with our CS Impact project while continuing our instruction on the Core4.

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