Self-Evaluation of my Coetail Final Project

My Self-Evaluation of my Course 5 Final Graduation Project

I used green fonts to indicate my answers.  If I had any comments to add, I put them below the question.

If you disagree with anything in my self-evaluation, feel free to let me know in the comments’ box below! 🙂  (Ditto if you agree!)

Personalization / Individualization / Differentiation

1. Who selected what is being learned?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

There is a lot of open-ended choice (within the subject of Computer Coding) in Scratch Programming. 

2. Who selected how it is being learned?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

Students pretty much stuck to the video tutorials and activities found in the Code.org and Scratch websites. In future, I would like to add resources like ebooks, paper books, board games, and more “robotics” devices.   There is also a myriad of tutorial information on the Internet and on Youtube.  We didn’t have the time to do the unplugged activities (activities not requiring a computer) but normally, we would have.

It might be interesting to have a parent who is a Computer programmer come in to speak with the kids.  A moonshot would be to find some famous computer celeb to skype in for a tutorial!

3. Who selected how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills and how that will be assessed?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

Scratch is very open-ended.  Students may create pretty much anything with the coding: computer games, science experiments, digital stories, e cards, artwork, music, math demonstrations etc. etc.  Whatever their hearts desire! 

4. Who selected which technologies are being used?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

 iPad could have been offered as a choice with different apps for learning how to code.

There are many controller devices and different types of robotics that could be brought in at a future date allowing for more choice: raspberry pi, sonic pi, makey makey, beebots.  

We stuck to two websites:  Code.org and Scratch.  There are many more out there too:  Khan Academy, Code Academy etc.

Agency / Control / Ownership / Choice / Interest / Passion

5. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the talk time?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

I was truly the “guide on the side” and only stepping in occasionally. The students knew more than me in many cases!

6. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the work time?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

7. Is student work reflective of their interests or passions?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

The Coding Club was an afterschool activity so students chose to join and to learn how to code.   Scratch is very open-ended and allows students to express their passions and interests through coding 

8. Who is the primary user of the technology?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

Communication

9. With whom are students communicating?

  • No one
  • In Pairs
  • In Triads (small groups)
  • In large groups

Students worked alone or in groups as they wished.  It was completely fluid and up to them. A global codeathon would be an example of a “large group”.

10. If with others, with whom? (check all that apply)

  • Students in this school
  • Students in another school (through the Scratch Community)
  • Adults in this school
  • Adults outside of this school (through the Scratch Community)
  • The World

Their Scratch projects are shared, by default, and therefore open to the public.  So, technically they are communicating with the world but it’s up to each student how deeply or directly they communicate with the world.  I, as the teacher, become just another adult member of the Scratch community who comments on and helps them with their stuff.  The “experts” who are best able to help them are the ones in the Scratch Community, and not myself.

11. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes?

  • Yes
  • No

12. If yes, in which ways? (check all that apply)

  • Writing
  • Photos and images
  • Charts and graphs (Code.org teacher’s dashboard)
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Multimedia
  • Transmedia (Media that interacts with the audience.  Scratch projects are meant to be played by the public and commented on by the public)

Collaboration (co-working, co-creating; more than just communication)

13. With whom are students working?

  • No one
  • In Pairs
  • In Triads (small groups)
  • In large groups

14. If with others, with whom? (check all that apply)

  • Students in this school
  • Students in another school
  • Adults in this school
  • Adults outside of this school
  • The World

Again, through the Scratch online community and the Scratch Studios.  The technologies make it easy to do collaborative projects with others outside of school walls and country borders.  A global codeathon would be an example of “world”.

15.  If with others, who is managing the collaborative processes (planning, management, monitoring, etc.)?

  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Both

The public, through the online Scratch community,  comments on their projects and it’s up to each student to act on the comments.  

16. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the collaborative processes?

  • Yes
  • No

17. If yes, in which ways? (check all that apply)

  • Google Apps
  • Email
  • Texting
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • Video conferencing
  • Mind Mapping
  • Curation tools
  • Project Planning Tools
  • Other

Code.org has a teacher dashboard where I monitored students’ progress.  My Infinite Loop Coding Club Scratch Studio (a part of the online Scratch community) allowed all of us to speak to each other so we could work and create together.

Authenticity / Relevancy

18. Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

I’m not too sure how the adult tech/computer programming community works together on projects.  So, I can’t say.  Can you? If so, let me know in the comments’ section below.

19. Does student work make a contribution to an audience beyond the classroom walls to the outside world?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Discipline Specific Inquiry

20. Are students learning discipline specific and appropriate content and procedural knowledge?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Schools are at the beginning stages of developing standards for computer programming learning.  I confess I did not study any curriculum standards or documents.  For one thing, I didn’t know of any.  For another thing, I was pretty busy just trying to teach myself to code one-step ahead of the students.  If you know of any good documents, please let me know in the comments’ section.

For Code.org, I just adopted the scope and sequence of their “gamified” framework.  The Code.org puzzles are effective and engaging but I’m not too sure all students would enjoy 20 hours of it etc. etc.  I blogged about the scope and sequencing tensions I discovered.  Scratch is so open-ended that students differentiate the activities according to their abilities, naturally.   I moved the students from Code.org to Scratch very quickly to avoid having students burning out from doing 20 hours of coding puzzles.  Near the end of the club, I gave students the choice of whether they spent their time on Code.org or Scratch.  It worked out very well that way.

I will be following the development of Coding in the primary school curriculum in the UK starting this September.  From September 2014, computer programming is a mandatory part of their school curriculum.  It will be interesting to observe what happens there and how they develop their standards for appropriate content & procedural skills for the teaching & learning of computer coding in primary school.

21. If yes, is student work focused around big, important concepts central to the discipline?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Code.org organized their puzzles around coding and computer science concepts.  Scratch coding concepts can be seen by their hierarachy organization of the various categories for their coding blocks.  What I just mentioned for Scratch is also applicable to Code.org.  

These websites don’t address the bigger concepts and questions which teachers call “Essential Questions”.  In a classroom setting, I would love to get into that, as that is the connection between the discipline and humanity.  Technology throws up a lot of questions and issues re: ethics, social change.  A website tutorial wouldn’t really be able to address these things well.  THIS is where a teacher is essential. 😉  At some point, the teaching of Coding should move from an optional school club to the mainstream curriculum just so teachers can address the ethical and moral side of it (hacking, piracy, privacy, security, espionage etc. etc.)

22. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and appropriate practices and processes?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Generally “yes” for Code.org.  I had to do a lot of helping with the Year 3 & 4 students. Code.org is not ideal for the younger students but they are coming out for a program for younger students in the Autumn (for K- Grade 2).  Scratch Jr is also coming out for K-grade 2 in the Autumn and I hear it will be available on iPad.

Scratch is open-ended so students “choose the practices and processes” they want to try, by the projects they want to create.  

23. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and appropriate technologies?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Well, you need a computer to learn how to program a computer. 😉  They each had their own computer.  We could have tried iPad too, but Code.org is buggy on iPads.  Coding blocks might become hidden in some corner of your iPad screen but they still run in the program!   Scratch is not available on iPads.  There are apps to learn how to code on the iPad, but they are obviously not as robust as the ones found on a computer.   The Lego We-Do for robotics is well suited for students new to robotics.  The Lego Mindstorms is better for middle school, so I used them only for demonstration purposes.   If I was doing Year 3 or younger, I think I would use the Beebots for robotics (but I need to learn about them first!)

Critical Thinking (Higher Order Thinking Skills + metacognition) / Creativity /Initiative / Entrepreneurship

24. Do student learning activities and assessments go beyond facts, procedures, and/or previously provided ways of thinking?

  • Yessssssssss!!!!!!!!
  • No
  • Somewhat

25. Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?

  • Yessssssssss!!!!!!  I love this about Scratch!  You can be a humanities and arts person (like I am) and still express yourself through Scratch and love it.
  • No
  • Somewhat

26. Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Code.org’s method of learning is completely self-directed as the program is “gamified” with video tutorials to help students along the way.  I was only on-hand for the younger students and to trouble-shoot when any of the kids got stuck.

Students definitely do have opportunities with Scratch programming to initiate, self-direct, be entrepreneurial, and to go beyond the parameters of the learning task.  We didn’t have enough time in one term to reach the latter stages but this will naturally come as students become more proficient in their coding and creations.

27. Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work, and/or progress?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Code.org is based on mastery before students can advance in the stages, so students can’t get away without evaluating their thinking and watching their progress on their dashboards.  The comments section in the Scratch online community facilitates reflection that helps with their planning, thinking, and work.  Learning is not really linear in Scratch, so it would be hard to evaluate “progress” in Scratch.  I think having fun is a good sign of progress and is enough! :p~~~ (I think educators traditionally have underestimated the importance of “fun and engagement” in learning and have not fully valued what it really means.  With students’ growing relationship with technology, “engagement’ is no longer an option in school tasks. The kids are just going to ignore you, in favour of their phone or the Internet.)

28. If yes, can students identify what they’re learning, not just what they’re doing?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

The video tutorials in Code.org make it explicit the concepts students are learning.  The unplugged activities in Code.org teach and also make explicit the concepts. We didn’t have time to do the unplugged activities but normally I would have.

 Students would have a harder time identifying what they are learning in Scratch as the concepts and skills are not made explicit.  They just having fun, without knowing they are learning and applying math, science, and computer science skills.  At primary school, should we make computer science learning so heavy?  Maybe having fun, developing curiousity and an interest in the medium is enough?  What do you think?

Technology

29. When digital technologies are utilized, do the tools overshadow, mask, or otherwise draw the focus away from important learning?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Well, to be like “real life”, students need to code on a computer 😉   Technologies in the past turned students off from computer programming as they were very complex. (See my final project video above, regarding my early experiences trying coding as a child. ). These modern technologies increase engagement and give access, especially for children, to the learning.  

30. Does technology add value so that students can do their work in better or different ways than are possible without the technology?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

The Code.org, Scratch, Lego We-Do, and Lego Mindstorm technologies are much better and more effective ways of learning how to Code than what I had when I was a kid.

31. Are digital technologies utilized appropriately and meaningfully for the learning tasks?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Happily, I didn’t have to design the interface for the learning.  Someone else (Code.org and Scratch) did all the work of designing the technologies. The kids told me they enjoyed the club and asked if it would continue in the new school year.  So, that’s a good sign that the technologies were working for them.

 Assessment

32. Are standards, learning goals, instruction, learning activities, and assessments all aligned, both topically and cognitively?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

I don’t have a standards document in which to evaluate them against (Do any exist yet?  I think schools are only at the beginning stages of developing them?!)  I only had the Code.org teacher dashboard.  I imagine that someone put great thought into the scope and sequence found in Code.org.  Students did jump around in the sequence of activities to try the things they wanted without major hiccups in their learning.   Time will tell (I hope someone is doing some research into it) about the cognitive development.  I felt that my biggest role as a teacher was to monitor whether some puzzles in Code.org or projects in Scratch were just too difficult for some students and to help them out or to steer them to a different task, instead of letting them become frustrated.  Computers can’t monitor’s students’ emotions, yet!

With all the technology at our finger-tips, students still need the guidance and encouragement of a teacher.  I was kept VERY busy during the entire time helping out students and trouble-shooting.

33. Are students creating real-world products or performances?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

The Code.org puzzles are not real-world products and limited in their engagement, as a result.  I think Scratch is pretty outstanding for what children can make with it.  Students are making video games and ecards that are as professional as what is being sold online.  These kids will go on to create software and apps for sale eventually, if they want to.

I need to explore more of what students are sharing on the Scratch community to see other examples, but I’m sure they are there.

34. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the assessment process?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat

Code.org does continuous formative assessment as the students progress through the puzzles.  Scratch does not facilitate formative assessment. The teacher would have to develop his/her own tasks for that.

Code.org and Scratch has online tools that facilitate summative assessment.  Code.org has a teacher dashboard to monitor progress and awards students when they’ve mastered a concept.   Scratch studios allow me to collect all my students’ projects together in one place so I can look at them and comment on them. The Scratch studios also allow for peer-assessment. Code.org does not allow for peer-assessment.

Final Comments 

It’s not everyday that big organizations and institutions like Code.org, Lego, and MIT spend millions of dollars developing resources and tools to help teachers deliver learning engagements.  When they do, why not take advantage of them?  When I chose these resources for the Coding Club, I didn’t really know how they would stack up against the Coetail Final Project marking rubric, until today when I did my self-evaluation.  They did pretty good in the marking rubric, and I was the benefit of their work.   Like all valuable tools, the online community quickly takes over to expand on their work to produce further resources and further applications to compliment the initial technology.  I hope I was able to do a bit of each, in my small way, during the duration of course 5.

~Vivian

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