Friday, December 9, 2016

Hour of Code: Minute 61 & Beyond

What about your beyond Hour of Code?  What have you done in minute 61 and beyond?
This week has been a celebration of technology with the worldwide Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code.  Millions of students worldwide have participated in various activities to bring more attention to the importance of studying computer science and coding.  Earlier this week, I wrote a piece about the importance of computer science and coding and how, frankly, I was a coding idiot for several reasons.  I pledged to educate myself more in the wonderful world of coding, including signing the pledge on code.org.  I am proud to say that even though I did not participate in an official Hour of Code event, I definitely put in more than an hour of time this week to familiarize myself with coding and can honestly say that I was missing out all of this time.

Complete the quizzes, earn your badges, and get this bad boy!
Earlier this week, I completed the Apple Teacher certification in iPads and Mac.  Each part of the process involved eight short quizzes about Apple products, such as Keynote, Numbers, Pages, iMovie, Garageband, and others.  A search in iBooks or from appleteacher.apple.com will turn up study guides to assist you in preparing for the quizzes and earning your badges.  I found some of the quizzes, like Productivity, Creativity, and iMovie to be very easy, while Garageband and Keynote were much tougher.  This should come as a surprise to me, which it doesn't, as I have used iMovie much more than I have Garageband (to tell the truth, I honestly can't recall a time that I ever used Garageband).  An addition set of quizzes with more badges focused on Apple's Swift Playground.  These badges are going to have to wait as I will need to do some extensive study and practice.  

As for the Swift Playground app, I can't say enough good things about it.  Apple provides study guides that are available for iBooks and activities within the app that explain key vocabulary and outline easy to follow tasks to build coding skills.  A fun little avatar that walks around demonstrates whether or not your code is correct.  Over the course of a couple of hours, I went from knowing absolutely nothing about writing code to writing code that had my avatar walking around, jumping, and collecting gems.  I have also started looking at some other coding apps, such as ScratchJr., to build my skills.  Do yourself a favor and check out Swift Playground, if you haven't already.


My daughter will be getting this soon!
Weeks ago, I signed up for a training offered by my school district that was hosted by Apple, with a focus on STEM education.  While the training was designed more for science and STEM teachers, I signed up for it hoping to learn some skills that I would be able to share with teachers at my school in my coaching role.  What I got was way more than that.  Now, it probably was not a coincidence that this training was held during Computer Science Education Week.  Not everything presented focused on computer science, but there was a great deal of coding with Parrot, Sphero, Osmo, and the Swift Playground.  In addition, the session gave instruction on some great science-related apps, iBooks, and iTunesU.  I was able to bring a ton of great resources back for my teachers, and I improved my coding skills at the same time.  They are offering an English/Language Arts themed session with Apple in February; I am already signed up!

It was a good week! 
With a straight face, I can look you in the eye and say that I have done something beyond the Hour of Code.  I can say that I am no longer lower than a novice.  I can say that I am a novice coder moving very quickly toward something higher than that.  I will not be writing apps or building a new operating system to compete with Windows or Chrome OS anytime soon, but I am a lot further along than I was four days ago.  Hopefully, this has been a week in which you have improved your computer science and skills as well.  

Until next time...