Best Teaching with Coding – Finalist: Alastair Richards, My Dream Home


Name: Alastair Richards
School: Tamatea Intermediate School
Name of coding activity: My Dream Home

Describe the coding activity that you want to be considered for the award?

Our Maths focus for the term has been based around measurement. With this in mind, I looked into if we could actually draw a basic bedroom using Code. I have been passionate about teaching Code to students and I saw this as a great opportunity to further extend our thinking. We looked at several platforms – Scratch, Turtle Logo and Tynker. Because the students have been using Scratch, they decided to continue to work with this platform as they have been coding with it through CS First. They had to first research house plans and we talked about what we should be showing.

Why did you choose to use this activity?

I have always been interested in Coding and have dabbled in actually writing code for Web Pages some years ago. When we moved to chrome books I had to look for other platforms to utilise. Coding is great for students as it goes across all curriculum areas (you can make it fit) and it gets them to think differently as well as using problem solving strategies along with the collaboration and vocabulary that goes with it. While doing the Mind Lab Post Graduate course, I have seen and researched the benefits of coding for students. I took on the role as a mentor rather than a teacher and encouraged them to take risks and learn from mistakes. It was hard for the students at first but they researched and helped one another.

How did you implement and use it?

I have a 1:2 computer class but other times of the day we were able to utilise other computers form other classes. To understand code in the beginning I had the class undertake an Hour of Code. This enabled them to become familiar with what drag and drop code was about. From there they worked through a couple of lessons in CS First where they became confident with Scratch. With measurement as our math focus I had the students draw a plan (showed them basic drafting techniques) of their bedrooms showing not only the wall but their beds and drawers etc. We discussed how the code might look and I let them code their bedrooms from here. Their bedrooms were then shared to me and I uploaded them to their digital portfolio (SeeSaw) as well as our class blog site. From this the students then started on coding their Dream Home designs utilising the skills and information learnt from doing their bedrooms.

What outcomes has it achieved for you and your class?

All of my students enjoyed the Hour of Code and raced through this and wanted more. Some continued on with 20 Hour of Code in their own time. While doing this they collaborated with one another and would occasionally ask for my input. Those that completed their Dream Home Designs then became teachers/mentors to others in the class. From this I want to take the students to the next level in Coding where the get to experience creating an actual App, Game or Web Page using code. I always had the students look at what the code looks like and from this some students were then introduced to Code Avengers. Some of the obstacles faced were more the technical issues with logins and passwords, but I ensured that he students had a copy of these written down.

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