Geeking out in Summer School

This was the first week of summer school ... and oh what a week it was! I am teaching two different classes Game Design and Crazy for Code to incoming fourth and fifth graders.

For Game Design the students are using Gamestar Mechanic. They learn different elements of video game design while working through challenges that teach them about the different elements of building a video game and then they work up to building their own game. Gamestar Mechanic does all of the coding for the students so that they are just manipulating the elements of a game: space, rules, components, mechanics, and goals. It helps them to develop a story for their game and I think it would be really interesting during the school year to let them create games around literature they are reading, history they are learning, or stories they are writing. The students are loving it!

The class that I was most excited to teach was Crazy for Code. Don't get me wrong Game Design is a lot of fun, but I am really interested in getting students using logic and math doing coding. We started the week with a non-digital activity where the students had to write "code" for another student who was a "robot" to stack cups. I found the My Robotic Friends activity from Thinkersmith on the Hour of Code website and the kids really liked it. I started with that because students were able to work collaboratively, they saw that if they didn't write the code exactly right the whole thing would be off, and they learned the importance of giving specific directions because computers aren't that smart. On the second day we started the's K-8 curriculum. I love their curriculum because it teaches them most of the controls that they will need when they set off on their own and the challenges are fun! I am surprised at how quickly they are working their way through. Once they finish they will go in to Scratch and start creating things from scratch!

One thing I wish was that there was a way for both classes to work collaboratively. Students in both classes are blogging about what they are doing so that they can interact with and learn from each other.

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