At UCC we’ve been encouraging more students to take part in coding and one of the big things we have been doing is getting our students to develop apps along side their teachers. Some students have had apps already published in the windows store and we wanted to give more students the opportunity to learn coding. 16th of December, what a day 🙂
We decided to host the UCC Appathon! The idea was simple and it was also simple to set up. Using a variety of resources I had prepared for KS3/kS4 I invited year 7,8 and 9 along to a room in the school which wasn’t usually used for computing. You can also find resources for KS2, if you would like to host this type of event. We put a series of devices around the room from Windows 8 Surface devices, Laptops and Nexus Tablets. We wanted students to develop their applications across platforms.
Before the Event
I spoke to management asking for some time with the students to host this event. It would require them to be out of their regular lessons. I also produced letters to go home to the children. Remember to do risk assessments etc, your room will need to be suitable for the event. Don’t just have some cables running across the room ;). Once all of the letters were returned, it was time to run the event!
An hour of Code
The students entered the room very excited about using the tablets and it was nice to seem them away from the computer and if I’m honest, it was easier to interact with the students from the other side of the room. Usually you have to strain to get eye contact because of the big monitor in the way.
I wanted the students to understand how to use Touch Develop to begin with. We made sure that all students had either a Google, Live, Facebook or Yahoo account. They all logged into their accounts and then started to use the tutorials built in with Touch Develop. I recommend starting the student with something simple such as the sound board. Some students weren’t sure about the X and Y variables and I needed to do a lot more theory to support these sessions. You can access the website here http://www.TouchDevelop.com
Discussion – Ideas for Learning
We all got together and discussed a number of different ideas. Many students came up with different ideas for applications. Some students suggested sound boards which teach language. One student suggested doing a historian application. One teacher spoke to a student and asked a student to develop an App for the Emily Davison mystery in History. It was great to have different staff involved in the subject and it was good to see how keen the students were to develop their applications. They’re off! Using what they had learnt in the tutorials and using the materials provided from my scheme of work. The students started developing a host of applications. The picture above shows some of the planning which was done throughout.
Emily Davison Story – This idea was given to us by one of our history teachers Miss Ballance. She suggested that it would be good for students to touch parts of the story and find evidence. The pieces will be put together and students can use it as a reference and discussion piece.
Students who hadn’t coded before were actually some of the stronger coders. It was very promising to see how happy the girls were with building their applications. Students who were worried about the coding managed to build some simple apps using boxes and the box feature within TouchDevelop. They managed to make an e-portfolio which showcased some work in previous lessons. It was brilliant!
The students were now given 2 hours to work on their applications and were given support from me and other coders. It was a very relaxed environment and students were approaching each other and out of seats helping each other out. There were some coders who had been in at lunch to learn TouchDevelop and they were making who wants to be a millionaire games and all sorts!
To have a look at some of the apps which students have built, you can click on the links below:
Evan Jones – https://www.touchdevelop.com/jynd
Lizzie Beach – https://www.touchdevelop.com/ztey
With only two hours of the actually planning and coding, I think these students did an amazing job of making something which is finished and ready to use. You don’t even need to publish these apps in the store, you can simply share the link through the browser and people can run the applications!
The students learnt some difficult coding and managed to collaborate between year groups. This was great to see and it was nice seeing them all their for each other. We’re now going to create a team of coders in the school who work regularly with teachers to encourage the use of technology in more lessons.
I would just like to thank the leadership at my school for letting me host this event. It was a brilliant thing for our students to take part in!
You can see pictures from the event before:
For any information about materials used at this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org