Category Archives: Assignments

Animate Your Name!

Beginning next with the 2017-2018 school year, all districts in Arkansas will offer a “coding block” to students in grades 7 or 8.  Per the standards, this course must run a minimum of 5 weeks and include text-based coding and problem solving.

Codecademy, a company that hosts self-paced online lessons for several programming languages, recently released a very short JavaScript activity that teaches you how to animate your name.  This is perfect for standards A.2.B.1 and A.2.B.2!

There’s sufficient scaffolding in the activity that teachers with minimal experience should easily be able to support students completing the exercise.  There is nothing to install, either.  As it runs completely in the browser, it should run just fine on Chromebooks.

I felt their coverage of conditionals was a tad disconnected from the activity, so would encourage you to teach it with this modification:  Have students create a final product that draws short names with squares and long names with bubbles.

One Mobile Application Development Project

Students in my Introduction to Mobile Application Development class at Bryant High School learn to create apps in a variety of tools — GameSalad, App Inventor, Xcode, and Eclipse.  More than just programming, their assignments also reinforce teamwork, communication skills, project management, and literacy.

Recently, a pair of ninth grade students were featured on a local television news broadcast for making a mobile application to help a new student to our district who speaks only Korean learn the basic words and phrases he needs to communicate within the context of the American school system.

Click to Play

Click to Play

The assignment first asks students to identify a client — someone with a problem that could be solved through the creation of a mobile application.  Next, they must interview the client and draft a problem statement in their own words detailing specifically what the problem is, to be reviewed by the client.

From a pedagogical perspective, engaging students in writing — any writing — builds their literacy skills.  Having them write a document that will be read by a real-life external client about an authentic problem often yields more and better writing than something only to be read by the students and the teacher.

Read on to find out how I make the most of this assignment. Continue reading