For the past couple of weeks, my high school Computer Science students have been dabbling in code. They’ve been experiencing the ups, the downs and the frustrations of computer programming. They sometimes get frustrated with me when they have bugs in their code and I tell them to “figure it out.” I’m not telling them this to be mean (although they’d probably say otherwise.) I’m telling them this to help them develop their troubleshooting and logical thinking skills. When the solutions to their problems come, they’re thrilled and proud to have solved the problem on their own. Today, I wanted my students to experience a different type of thrill by helping students, less than half of their age, experience the same kind of joy and excitement they experience when their code “works.”
We’re lucky to have our local primary school right next door to our high school. Most of my students went to this primary school and still remember many of their teachers there. Today, we took a walking “field trip” to help 1st graders participate the Hour of Code. These young children arrived in the computer lab wondering why the older kids were there. They were cautious at first but after a few minutes began to open up. I’m talking about my high school students, they were the nervous ones, not the little ones. The young ones were thrilled to have the chance to work with high school students. They paired up and got to work. The first graders came in with no coding experience at all. A website named Kodable (http://kodable.com) was the perfect choice. Kodable requires logical, sequential thinking to move your “Fuzzy” through the mazes, something that some of the 1st graders had difficulty with at first. But as the hour continued, the 1st graders became more and more confident and my Computer Science students more and more comfortable. That’s when the high fives started. That’s when the
cheering started. That’s when these little kids began to experience the magic and wonder that is computer programming and my high school students began to experience pure joy and excitement.
These feelings of accomplishment and excitement that my high school students felt with their young partners is the same feeling that I get to experience with my students every single day. That feeling, when my frustrated students battle through that frustration and accomplish what they thought was impossible, is why I do what I
do. I felt it was important for my students to experience that same.
As a teacher, we live for days like today. The day when our students are not just students but mentors and teachers. It was the code that brought these kids together. It was the magic of that code that has me thankful for the opportunity to do what I do.