Showing posts with label Blackbird Code. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blackbird Code. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2021

Blackbird Code - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Blackbird is a new platform for teaching programming to middle school and high school students. Blackbird is positioning itself as a platform that fills the gap between using a blocks-based service like Scratch and writing code in an IDE. Blackbird doesn't use blocks or even offer any blocks. Instead, Blackbird provides a series of interactive lessons in which students write JavaScript. 

Blackbird lessons are arranged in progressive units. From the first lesson students are building a game they can customize to their heart's content. When they've finished all of the lessons students can move onto a "workshop" where they can work on independent projects that you can observe from your teacher dashboard in Blackbird. 

There were a few features that stood out to me during my first run-through of Blackbird. First, students can get choose how much guidance they get on each lesson. Second, students' progress is locked in place as they go. Third, from your teacher dashboard you can see how much time your students spend on each activity. 

Students can use just the basic instructions for each lesson or click on the definitions and "deep dives" embedded within the instructions. Those definitions and deep dives give students an explanation of what they're writing and puts the explanation into an applicable context. 

Blackbird units are composed of progressive lesson sequences. When a student completes a lesson with 100% accuracy the code they wrote for that lesson is locked. It's locked because the next lesson will build upon their correctly written code. Locking the previously written code in place prevents students from accidentally changing their existing code and thereby impacting what they're currently working on. 



Applications for Education
While it's helpful to have some prior coding experience, Blackbird can be used by teachers who don't have any prior coding experience. Blackbird provides detailed tutorials and lesson guides for teachers who don't have coding experience. Furthermore, teachers can do the exact same lessons and activities as their students to learn alongside them.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and 711Web. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Blackbird Code - Overview and First Impressions from My Students

Last week I published a written overview of a new learn-to-code platform called Blackbird. In short, Blackbird is a platform that is trying to bridge the gap between using block editors like Scratch and making students jump into a full-fledged IDE without any built-in support resources. Blackbird teaches students how to write code (specifically, JavaScript) through a series of short, guided lessons before challenging them with some "workshop projects." Along the way there are plenty of easily accessible help resources for students to use without having to leave the code that they're currently writing. Watch this video that I made for a visual overview of Blackbird.



Initial Impressions from My Students
I have a small group of students taking a Computer Science Principles class with me. In the class there is a mix of freshmen, juniors, and seniors (sophomores are welcome to take the class, I just don't have any this year). Today, I used Blackbird with them for the first time. All of my students thought the first few lessons were "too easy" and they breezed right through them. But by the time they got to the fourth lesson in stage 1, they didn't feel that way. At that point they started to use the "show me" button in Blackbird to get a little help writing their code. All of the students felt like there was a lot of repetition which, as one student pointed out, is a good way to learn the language.

The exception to the above impressions from my students was one junior who had a lot of prior experience writing JavaScript. He ripped through all of the stage 1 lessons very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I challenged him to watch this video then try to code the Snake game. He accepted and will probably finish by the time class meets again on Thursday.



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.