Really, these games were the only things we would do in 1999 and 2000 when we had access to our bulky IMB computers - which is a stark comparison to today where educational technology is used more often and for so many different outcomes. However, while games still exist today to help teach students concepts like typing or coding, we use technology more as a practical teaching tool to educate students in these skills because most educators have a far firmer grasp on technology than teachers did 20-30 years ago.
My Experience with Logo
While Logo was not a program that I was familiar with before this class, it was something that I enjoyed and something I know the younger version of me would also have spent a copious amount of time playing. I liked the problem-solving aspect of the program as it wasn't easy to get right on the first try. Often it took me five to ten trials to finally get the shape or design right, which was definitely frustrating, However, this also provided me with a great sense of accomplishment and I'm sure if anyone was perusing through the Zoom camera's during this time, they would have witnessed over-the-top celebrations that would have certainly drawn unsportsmanlike penalties in an NFL game. My experience with Logo reminded me of my experiences learning to code an Arduino this summer, albeit, with fewer celebrations.
Years ago I had bought an Arduino for my classroom as I figured coding couldn't that hard and my students would easily be able to figure it out. Well, what a mistake that was! As I learned more about coding, I understood that there was a major difference between using programs like Hour of Code or Microbit and programming a text-based Arduino. This led to some new experiences and many moments of frustration over the summer while learning to program this little computer. However, just as I felt accomplished when I was able to make a square on Logo, I felt the same sense of pride when I was able to make an LED blink on the Arduino breadboard. Both of these programs allowed me to problem solve, visualize my learning and gain a sense of accomplishment once I got it right - which are the main reasons why I believe Logo (and other programs similar to it) are still valuable in classrooms.
Coding in the Classroom
As I mentioned above, I think Logo (and other coding programs) are beneficial because they allow students to develop problem-solving skills and gain a sense of accomplishment when they complete each of the activities. In addition to these benefits, the article "5 Reasons Why Coding is Important for Young Minds", also outlines five important ways coding can help students:
When exploring Logo through the five points made in the article, it's not hard to see how each of these aspects could be achieved by using Logo with our students. Personally, aside from the problem-solving aspect, the first thing that came to mind was how beneficial a program like Logo would be to reinforce Math concepts - specifically angles, shapes and tesselations in the Grade 7/8 level.
Connection to Constructionism
As Tracy emphasized in her blog post, Constructionism is "When learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. Constructionism advocates student-centred, discovery learning where students use the information they already know to acquire more knowledge". When comparing this definition to Logo (and most coding programs), it couldn't apply any better. As I discussed above one of the major benefits of Logo was the notion that students would have to utilize problem-solving in order to achieve their goal. This would directly relate to the notion of discovery learning as students are learning skills in each of the mini-lessons that can be applied to further tasks, thus building on prior knowledge to achieve their goal. It also directly relates to the construction of mental models as the entire goal of the software is for students to build shapes on the screen, however, in order to do so, they need to first construct them mentally to figure out the process they will utilize to build the shape.
Overall, while I have utilized coding in the classroom in previous years I don't believe I've explored the benefits as deeply as I could have. The experience of using Logo, as well as expressing my thoughts through this blog post, have provided me with new insights into coding and given me fresh ideas into how I can integrate coding into my teaching in settings outside of Genius Hour or Makerspaces. I can't wait to explore Logo (and other coding programs) further throughout the year and finding new ways to engage my students through coding that I didn't know were possible before.