Thursday, September 22, 2016

Exploring Literacy and Coding

A while ago, I participated in a wonderful Twitter chat with #digitaledchat where we discussed what you could do with robots in class, such as Sphero. One of the things that came up was using them to create stories or videos by coding the robots as characters. I liked that idea so much, it got me to thinking quite a bit about how coding and literacy could be combined.

I've tried really hard to make my class a creative one, in which my learners are able to explore different ways of learning that are fun, creative and exciting. I want the children in my charge to wake up in the morning, excited to come to school and do their work (which they won't see as work). I have had many different ways of making stories and being creative (including Stop Motion and Digital Storybooks) so it wasn't a big step to try some new things. Here are three ways in which my learners used coding or computational thinking to create stories:

Choose Your Own Adventure Stories Using Google Forms

Many of us have read these books as children and this idea is definitely not a new one. You can use the "go to page based on answer" feature of multiple choice questions to direct readers to new pages based on their choices. When we first did this, I used Google Drawings to plan out the story (it can get very complicated if you have a lot of choices) but it isn't always necessary. A pair of my learners created this story earlier this year.

There are other ways of making stories like this, including Scratch.

Stories on Scratch

This idea came from where you can find a whole 8 lesson module on coding stories for code clubs, though if anyone has used Scratch Jr, that's basically what that app is for. The idea is simple: code the sprites to speak to each other and interact. As coding knowledge increases, so too does the complexity of the stories. This is definitely an area to explore for reluctant writers who happen to like coding (and I've noticed the majority of my learners are liking coding more and more everyday, some even attempting to code a Choose Your Own Adventure story).

Coding Robots to Tell a Story

This was the big idea from #digitaledchat that I have been waiting a while to try. We only have made one attempt at this, but it went, in my opinion really well. Some interested children joined me for a short brainstorming session. We came up with some characters and starting thinking about what their story was going to be about. Some other learners got interested and joined us at this point and the discussion started taking off. I backed off and let them sort things out. There were varying levels of coding abilities in the group and they were able to support each other. A lot of the story didn't really utilize coding knowledge, but it was a fantastic start. Again though, a little disappointed that these children won't get to try this again with me, but I'll keep on introducing these ideas to children and see how they develop.

The plan with this topic is to continue to explore it further, get children making more and more stories using their coding skills and then to share this in more depth next year (hopefully at GAFE & ISTE). So keep an eye out if you're interested as I think this is an exciting way to develop a plethora of skills amongst learners.

1 comment:

  1. There are some great ideas here Michael - especially from the perspective of an English teacher working with, as you say, reluctant writers. I'm not sure if I have the coding experience to make it work, but will I will definitely be looking into this. It would have been good to have covered something like this on the Mindlab course (I notice you completed the PCG). Thanks for the post.