Hour of Code
Earlier this year, I signed my school up for the “Hour of Code,” an international event taking place in December to encourage everyone to spend one hour doing a coding or computational thinking activity. Last year my colleagues and I arranged to have non-computer classes book times to come in and do the hour of code with us. This was okay but it turned out to be a little disruptive and most teachers were not willing to swap classes for a block and space was limited. So this year we decided to do something different.
Online Scavenger Hunt
I went to a presentation as part of a professional development day where they discussed a website/service called Goosechase. This website allows you to set up scavenger hunts and students can get points in real time while completing challenges. Unfortunately, the free account is really only suitable for a single class. For a school-wide event it would have cost $500 and up (this is for a one-time event, not a subscription). This might be interesting to try with an individual class but for a school event we opted to try something else.
What about Google Forms?
I am quite fond of Google Forms and use them for many things. I realized that this would be an easy way to run a school event. Basically we used this as a daily quiz. I created a landing page and we advertised it through the school. Every day at midnight there would be a new quiz put up. Many of the questions would require students to do further research into coding or computer science. Within my department, we each took a day to plan so there wasn’t a huge workload getting this off the ground.
Day 1: Programming Languages
Day 2: Game Development
Day 3: Women in Computer Science
Day 4: HTML
Day 5: Classic Games Arcade (offline challenge in the computer lab at lunch)
Here’s Day 1:
At the end of the week, I colour coded each spreadsheet of submissions (day 1 was green, day 2 was yellow etc.) and then merged all of the data into one. Sorting by name I was able to quickly see which students got 5/5 every day. There was one winner who got a prize! We also had a prize donated for the “Classic Games Arcade” challenge on the Friday.
It was a good experience setting up a virtual event like this. On the first day we had 135 students attempt the quiz (out of 1500, thats about 9% of students). It was exciting to hear students talking about the challenge and checking it first thing in the morning. Creating a challenge open to all students can be daunting but keeping it virtual kept it very manageable.