Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hour of Code Started Today!

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Computer Science Education Week
December 8 - 14, 2014

To celebrate, Mrs. Yollis and her students will participate in the Hour of Code!

Here are some screenshots from the Hour of Code website

Computer Science week coincides with the birthdays of two computer science pioneers. A pioneer is a person who is one of the first to enter a field of study or explore a new area of thought.  Ada Lovelace, born in England on December 10, 1815, is considered the world's first computer programmerGrace Hopper, whose birthday is December 9, 1906, was an American computer programmer and Navy rear admiral. She contributed to the development of the COBOL language and is credited with popularizing the term "computer bug" in the programming community. Grace Hopper said:  

To me programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge.

For students: 
We will be accessing these Hour of Code Tutorials. However, you are free to go to these tutorials at home with your parents. Share what you've learned with the class in the comment section!

On Monday, we will start our Hour of Code using the Angry Birds tutorial. This tutorial will help us learn the "drag and drop" method of programming as we solve fun puzzles. After solving the puzzles, we can create our own puzzle!

 Here is a screenshot of puzzle 1. 

Here is a screenshot of the opening puzzle. Together we will drag and drop blocks. The blocks will snap together, and then we will run the program. Through trial and error we will persevere and become computer programmers

For those who are ready, there is a tutorial using Anna and Elsa! Here are some screenshot I took as I explored the tutorial. 

Notice verbs like move and turn
What does the term 90 degrees mean? Can Elsa turn more than 90˚? Less than 90˚
What are pixels

For parents and teachers: 
Learn about the Hour of Code organization
Hour of Code Q & A Hangout with Hadi Partovi, the creator of Hour of Code
Hour of Code Tutorials

Here are some shots from our first day of coding:

We used a paper bird to help us figure out right from left! 
Follow the beak!

After we did a few tutorials together, students worked in groups.

Follow the beak! 

What did you enjoy about being a computer programmer?

Share any tips or definitions that will help us all become better programmers.

Let the coding begin!


  1. Ben, Troy's Mom's Friend in San FranciscoDecember 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Hi there! This is Ben writing, an old friend of Troy's Mom. I work for a startup in Silicon Valley called Opendoor, where I spend my time programming and experimenting on data about houses and condos. Our company tries to help families move house quickly. For example, we help when one of the parents gets a new job in another city.

    I started programming on an old Atari computer when I was 11 or 12 years old. So you have a great chance to get started on something super fun, super early!

    Some advice you might want to keep in mind: Most of the time you spend programming will be fixing something that is totally broken. This is called "debugging," and is the best part of the job because it is like an investigation or finding a secret. So remember that is totally normal for your code to be broken.

    Good luck!

    1. Dear Ben,

      Thank you for visiting the blog! I thought you and some of our other friends would be interested to see what Troy's class is learning about this week since you are very passionate about computer programming.

      I think your advice was very helpful. I will keep that in mind myself: Even though I have good friends like you who are computer programmers, I do not know anything about programming. I will be learning along with the class this week.

      l hope you have a good week at work writing code and debugging!

      Your friend,

    2. @ Ben,

      Thank you so much for your quality comment.

      We already had to debug a program this morning. One group of programmers was not reading the directions, so the program kept saying Try Again.

      Here are some tips we have learned already:

      1. Read the directions.
      2. Reread the directions.
      3. If you rotate your character, you then need to add a move forward block.
      4. Do not give up. Always persevere! (That's a fancy word for staying at something even when it is difficult.)
      5. Check over your code before you run it.
      6. When trying to decide if your character should go right or left, make a paper character and test it.
      7. You can repeat a movement inside of a repeat block.
      8. Reread directions. :-)
      9. Take a deep breath when the program is loading, especially if it is taking a long time. Maybe there are millions of coders who are trying to get on.
      10. If you are NOT sure if something will work, try testing it! Run the code! We call that trial and error.
      11. A computer program does what YOU tell it to do.

      Happy coding, everyone!

      Mrs. Yollis' coders

    3. Dear Yollis Coders,

      I started my career in Computer Science 30 years ago as a COBOL programmer. There were not a lot of women in the Computer Science field when I started. I have found it to be a remarkably exciting and fulfilling career. I learn something new every day!

      Computer programming eventually led me to become a Manager in the Information Technology department of my company. I can honestly say I have not had even one boring day in my career!

      When I read over the 11 tips you have learned so far, several really caught my attention.

      As a programmer, attention to detail is critical. Reading the directions, or what you were asked to do, and really understanding them is key. Sometimes you need to read them several times to really understand them. Even then, you might end up with some questions about what the directions mean.

      I found that talking to my colleagues, or for you your classmates and teacher, and discussing my questions out loud with them helped me to think them through and determine if I was understanding them correctly. This is called collaborating, and it is what you are doing in your small groups as you work together to solve the problem.

      Check, double check, and triple check your work. Accuracy is key. We used to do what we called a "desk check" of our programs. It is doing exactly what you did with the paper birds to see if your assumptions are correct in a visual or manual way prior to running the program. If our code passed the "desk check", we would run the program and analyze the output or results.

      There was a term we used that describes tip #11 - "a computer program does what YOU tell it to do." The acronym was GIGO. An acronym is a series of letters that are an abbreviation for other words. GIGO stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out.

      If you do not code carefully or put in the wrong commands (Garbage In), the results you get will either not work at all or be inaccurate (Garbage Out).

      Programming helps you to think logically, meaning thinking about tasks step by step. It also helps you to learn how to collaborate with others. Logical thinking and collaboration are great skills to have for many projects you will be assigned in school and in life.

      I have thoroughly enjoyed my career in Computer Science. I hope you enjoy your Hour of Code.

      Barb (Troy's Grandma from Wisconsin)

  2. Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

    Tabitha and I were working on coding together. My tip would be to test run the maze after each step. This will help you find out exactly if and where you have a problem.

    Good luck!

    Tara, Tabitha's mom

  3. Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

    My mom and I started coding yesterday as I was doing my homework for the night. At first, it seemed like learning a different language and looked complicated. It made both my mom and I think hard. Today, I started my coding homework with my mom next to me like yesterday and we both feel more comfortable doing it. It actually challenging and fun! Looking forward to more coding!

    Kayla and mom

  4. Dear Mrs. Yollis and Class,
    This is Kayla's mom. I was watching my Middle Schooler Brianna packing a bag of goodies for the "Skid Row" project she's working on through her school for the holidays. This is truly a meaningful project as it teaches children to give to those less fortunate and be greatful for all that they have. We need to have more such projects for our children of all ages in order to teach them the value of giving and thus appreciation of their own surroundings. This project is repeated every year in Middle School and is truly one of my favorites. She packed all sorts of non-perishable food items, wash cloth, towel, and a warm sweatshirt which will make one homeless person joyful for a day or so while teaching the students a valuable life lesson.
    Season's greetings to all!
    Caroline (Kayla's mom)

  5. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I love doing Hour Of Code,every level gets harder and harder but it is fun to do because it is challenging. I have done a lot of levels and have learned a lot.

    Happy coding,


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