• Fair Chance Learning

The #12BlocksOfCodemas - An initial engagement with micro:bits

Last November on the way back from a meeting in Hamilton, where I heard about the SCDSB “Tweet the Halls - #tweetthehalls” initiative, I wondered about how my district (Trillium Lakelands DSB) could use a similar idea. I wanted to continue to engage students and get new classes and students involved with coding using a similar initiative, around the two weeks before the Christmas break. I decided to keep the idea simple and open-ended (low-floor, wide-walls approach): pick one block of code from a coding platform, and then have students code with it - the #12BlocksofCodemas was born.

With the 21st Century Competencies in mind, the aim of the #12BlocksofCodemas is to increase the awareness of students about different blocks of code that exist for their use; and at the same time, create opportunities for creativity and innovation, learning to learn, and collaboration.

How does it work…well, for the 12 school days before the Christmas break, a new image is made for each coding environment and announced on social media and the board email service. The image (as a Google Drawing with live links) is also embedded on our Board's coding website in the #12BlocksofCodemas area. As students complete their work, they share their work via a Google Form and these submissions are used as a ballet in a draw for prizes (done by board Trustees). Students can complete as many submissions as they wish for each day and throughout Codemas, as long as they use the block of code that is highlighted in that day’s announcement.

Last year the #12BlocksofCodemas was aimed at the Scratch and Scratch Jr coding environments and we had over 500 student submissions of coding projects. This year, after the purchase of five micro:bits for each of our elementary schools, we decided to expand the initiative to include the MakeCode coding environment. As of today, we have had 26 submissions of student work from students in grades 5 – 7 from across our school board.

Some examples of student work are:

Day #4 - Use random block

Day #1 - Make an animation

Day #1 - Make an animation

The engagement with this project is quite exciting. In last year’s codemas, we even had teachers participating and creating their own codemas work. I’ve had students stop me at the hockey arena after a game and comment about how much they enjoy “Codemas” and it is commonly a launch pad for more learning and exploration of coding by students and teachers alike.

About the Author:

I am a Technology Consultant at Trillium Lakelands DSB, before becoming a consultant I was a high school math and science teacher at Huntsville High School. I received my first micro:bit at the Connect Conference last year and have been really enjoying coding, tinkering and making with it since. Social media: @ryan_psmith

Start coding in your classroom, school or board, with a micro:bit. Purchase yours online through our website, or reach out to us at info@fairchancelearning.com for customized purchasing or learning micro:bit options.

#Learntocode #codetolearn #coding #codingintheclassroom #CanCodes #microbit #codemas #blockcoding