There’s a dance party going on at Miriam School!
Most of the dancing is actually happening on the kids’ Chromebooks, but for Rooms 5 and 6, it’s a party nonetheless. They are learning coding in technology class, and Dance Party on Code.org is a particular favorite.
“Coding is one subject that spans from data entry to artistic expression, and everything in between,” says Mary Bless, director of media services. “We know that students learn skills such as sequencing, math, following directions and logical thinking.”
For this project, the classes began by doing some “unplugged” activities – learning the dance moves used in the program and pairing up with a partner to create their own moves. Next, they transitioned to their Chromebooks to learn how to code their own virtual dance party with a cast of characters including sloths, pineapples and sharks.
“They’ve learned what a measure is in music, how to create an event to prompt a movement, how to create a loop to continue a dance move and finally to select the music and background for their dancer’s performance,” Ms. Bless says.
To end the unit, students will share their dance parties with their class.
It was obvious that most students were simply enthralled by this process, and for many, this was not their first experience with coding. Will joined a Coding Club last year and “really got into it.” He says, “The process is really cool. You can just code all sorts of stuff, like creating a character to do a dance.”
Virginia says, “With coding, I get to try different things and figure out what works and what I like. It’s like when you’re shopping, and you try on clothes to see what fits. It’s a lot of fun to figure things out.”
Coding teaches another valuable lesson, Ms. Bless points out: how to fail. “In a time when we often find ourselves multitasking and having a constant stream of input, coding makes us stop, think, act, evaluate – and then start the whole process over again.” Students learn that failure is just a way of refining their learning, she says.
“Think of what we could accomplish if we brought that process and attitude to other aspects of our lives!”
Younger students are also learning about coding this winter. Students in Rooms 1-4 started with apps that allow them to practice the basics of directions and movement.
For anyone interested in exploring the world of coding, specifically for children, Ms. Bless recommends checking out these resources:
The 23 Best Programming Apps and Coding Apps for Kids