Unit 2 – Programming

Originally posted JANUARY 18, 2014

The second unit was about two weeks long and introduced students to computer programming.  I really lucked out this year by having the nation wide “hour of code” push happen at about the same time.  In past years I started out teaching students processing and then arduino.  Processing is great because it’s easy to write a sketch with basic shapes and even add interactivity with mouseX and mouseY.  Those lessons worked, but they usually ended up being direct instruction and moved at the pace of the slowest student.  Any student that missed a day was instantly frustrated.  So this time I used the tutorials on code.org and it was an amazing experience.

learn.code.org tutorials have a nice visual block interface like Scratch, fun characters and sounds, work on all types of devices, save your progress, and even have a code viewer so you can see what’s going on behind the scenes.  My entire class was engrossed for hours.  I extended the unit by a day so students could finish all of the levels.  Most played it like a game, and others helped out when someone got too frustrated, just like they do with candycrush ;)


After the lessons on code.org we moved onto processing.  Again, the hour of code made my life much easier.  Processing.org made a slick tutorial website to teach the basics.  After everyone got their jokes in about how Daniel Shiffman and I must be brothers they got to work.  Most students picked it up pretty quickly and those that didn’t paired up and used a cheat sheet I handed out.

We then moved onto the generative art project. I’ve been showing inspirational videos at the start of each lesson and there were a lot of good ones for programming and art.  We used the site sketchpad.cc for writing the code instead of a desktop version of processing.  this made it easy to view other’s code, collaborate in real time on code, and edit code on a chromebook.

Day 2 Student Worksheet


It was a fun two weeks of programming and went smoother than expected due to the wonderful tutorials on code.org.