How I Use It
I initially used this with a computer science / technology class as an introduction to coding. I suggested this app to my language arts classes in upper elementary and middle school as a supplement to sequencing activities (which comes first, second, or third). Using the free application, students easily moved Codey to the areas he needed to be, learned to repeat directions, do only what was necessary, and adjust as each challenge changed. The graphics were great, though the middle school students were not engaged for as long as my elementary students.
We introduced concepts of command lines before playing the game and used the tool (at first) as a supplement to other sites I had found. By the end of the course, we predominantly used Tynker over any other site or tool (for grades 3-7).
A great part of this app, especially for students who are easily frustrated by computer applications, was that if they made a mistake in the code, they could identify the part that needed to be adjusted and just change that portion. By not eliminating their entire string of commands, they could fix the small mistake (making Codey walk more than he needed to) and still feel successful.
I was most impressed with how quickly they were able to pick up on the concept AND that when they finished each class, students didn't feel like they were learning. It was a great way to introduce coding concepts without having to use a foreign language.
Kids were engaged with going the furthest in the challenge and collecting stars. They worked independently, but also reached out to their classmates to help when they struggled to string the correct code together (especially with the [repeat] command). It was sufficiently challenging to keep them engaged (grades 3-7) and easy enough to allow them to be successful.
The only negative I see is that I was unable to determine individual student gains or mastery because we share iPads. The app will collect "star" information (similar to other gaming apps such as Angry Birds or Candy Crush), but once a student accomplishes the challenge in three stars, there is no going back. Ideally, each student would have their own device in order to use this app as an assessment tool. I will, however, be able to take screenshots of their progress and incorporate them into further assessments.