How I Use It
Light Bot has a free One Hour of Code version app that is great for introducing simple computer science concepts even if the teacher and/or students have no computer science or programming knowledge. Students love it and work great in pairs to complete the simple programming challenges that gradually increase in difficulty. A few supports are built in like tips as they get started, the ability to re-try when a program is incorrect, etc. The app does need to be installed on the iPad, but then it can be played multiple times. We introduced it in a very open-ended manner. Just challenging the students to try out a little big of what computer programmers do by playing a game. We warned them that the challenges would get more and more difficult and that they could work together since that is what programmers do! The background music quickly became too much with a classroom full of iPads, so we had them turn the sound wayyyyy down. We didn't want them using ear buds because we wanted to encourage interaction. After the single class was introduced to the app, we had the kids teach another student in a different class. (The other class had been introduced to a different app and they were partner teaching one another about the coding apps they had learned.) Super fun!
Overall, it is important to keep in mind that this is not just playing a game. Coding and activities like LightBot encourage many "soft skills" our students need: critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, persistence in the face of challenge and failure, cooperation with others. It isn't just about creating a generation of kids who want to become computer scientists...though there will continue to be career opportunities for them, for sure!!