This week, we had an Hour of Code opportunity to use Scratch to design new Google Doodle logos. Kids were given a login to begin the project and they learned how Scratch works. They used the blocks of code to construct components of their logo. I enjoyed watching them struggle a bit with figuring out how it all works and seeing their creativity as they made decisions about how they wanted their logos to look.
Jonas teaching his classmates how to manipulate blocks of code.
So many of our kids want to learn because for them, it's something different and they like technology. We often think of kids as digital natives because their lives revolve around their phones. That is partly true. The kids are comfortable in a digital environment but expecting them to know how something works by looking at it is unfair to the kids. They don't know everything about tech. They are experts at using Snap Chat and posting to Instagram, but I have found that kids are not comfortable using many of the apps and technology that we use in class.
The advantage that kids have over adults is that they are fearless. When I taught computer classes to adults, they were so afraid of pushing buttons because "something might go wrong". Kids will push buttons until something goes right. That is the difference. Kids are comfortable with trial and error. Adults are not. When I put technology in front of kids, I have the fearless early adopters who are very comfortable plucking away and figuring it out themselves. I also have kids who want a step-by-step instruction sheet explaining everything they will do. I try to get them to experiment and discover the technology. When kids are rushing around the room sharing with others something they just learned, I am a happy guy.
JP showing his classmates how to create a logo on devices.
Why is this type of learning going on in an ELA classroom? It's good for the kids. The more pressing question is why isn't this kind of learning happening in EVERY classroom? Digital literacy is something kids are going to deal with a lot in their future. They have to know how technology works and be able to choose the best tool for each task they will have. We have to prepare kids for their future, not our past. Even my district reading standards are covered in activities like this. Kids have to read carefully and execute the instructions that they read. Designing with code is a great learning experience on so many levels. As a bonus, the kids really like it. We will continue to take these opportunities as the year progresses. If we didn't, I would be doing these kiddos a disservice.