Thursday, December 18, 2014

Justifying Excitement

I made a phone call last week to a parent after working with a little guy on the Hour of Code.  This little first grader had never even considered how computers worked -- what five year old would actually have considered that? -- yet caught on to the concepts of beginner coding immediately, as he worked to have the Angry Bird catch the Green Pig.  He was engaged, he was excited, and he was starting to make the connections between simple coding strategies and the graphics on a computer.

So why did I make the phone call?  Well, of course it's always heart-warming to be able to tell a parent how incredibly awesome their child is, or how well they worked on a difficult project, but the reality was that I made the phone call to preempt the inevitable conversation:

"What did you do in school today?"
"I played Angry Birds with Mrs. Heydt."

Sure.  That's what I do all day.

Justifying Excitement

With the increased use of technology, teachers find themselves trying to justify exactly why they are implementing certain strategies or assigning specific online experiences.  Technology, even twenty years ago, seemed more fascinating to kids than their adults, who viewed the fascination of their young people with suspicion.  "All he does is stare at that screen..." became a common comment, with the adults examining the superficial interactions they viewed on the screen and dismissing them as trivial or time-wasting.

So the phone call to a dad at work in the middle of the afternoon was to explain the rationale behind the activity, before the car ride home.  The father was incredibly appreciative, and we had a great conversation -- which also helped me in planning for future lessons with the new computer coder.

The reason for the coding lesson in the first place was as an anticipatory introduction to simple coding concepts that will be used when our new robots - Dash and Dot - that will arrive this week.
So parents know to expect a lot of technology talk, and I now know that robot voices are scary to some five year olds.