Recently my Geometry students were tasked with using Hopscotch, a basic “coding” app for iPad, to create a simple animation.

Objective: Use Hopscotch to understand Conditional Statements.

Instructions:  Create an entertaining and engaging animation for your classmates using multiple characters with multiple “If….” commands. Then create a ShowMe video that demonstrates your knowledge of “If…Then…” statements and your animation commands.

I had multiple reasons for assigning this task, some of which are listed here:

1. Expose students to coding structure.

2. Working with “IF…THEN…” conditional statements.

3. Use commands such as: rotation, change by x, and change by y.

4. Interpret movements in the coordinate plane, work with coordinates, and design something using math.

5. It is playful and open ended. It is a creative expression of math.

The final reason I tasked students with this project was to expose them to conditional statements. It seems Common Core has done away with the need to learn “IF….THEN…” statements as they relate to geometric proofs. To be honest I always struggled with teaching this concept really effectively and students always struggled to really grasp it, but then again there is probably a small percentage of us who really love mathematical proofs.

However, I do believe that conditional statements are very important for our logical development as well as for our future generations of computer programmers and software engineers. So to expose them to this type of language in a playful way seemed like a good idea.

Student example video of Hopscotch explained in terms of conditional statements. 

Here is what I liked:

1. Kids got creative.

2. Kids asked questions about how to animate- they were genuinely interested in a math task.

3. It gives immediate feedback. Simply tap play to see how the changes in animation.

4. Kids tried things that I never thought of- such as adding emoji’s as text objects.

5. Kids were proud of what they made and bragged about what their classmates made.

6. Prior to the bell ringing, kids coded in Hopscotch rather than played a game on the iPad…(alright there were still some that played games).

7. Kids were working with (and therefore learning) the basic ideas around translations and rotations in the coordinate plane without being told to learn about translations and rotation. By the way these transformations are our next unit of study.

8. It gave some students who may not do well on a traditional paper assignment the opportunity to demonstrate an understanding of content.

9. There were not many guidelines. Student work looked different based upon what they were interested in creating.

If you are on an iPad you can view this student sample by opening this file up in Hopscotch. http://hop.sc/1cm1muo.

Looking back on the assignment I realize it wasn’t the perfect assignment. At least, it wasn’t perfect in the way that all students aced the part of the chapter test on “If…Then…” statements and proofs.

But again, this raises another question on assessment- when using projects to create an understanding of concepts how realistic is it to expect our students to transfer that knowledge from a project to a traditional paper assessment?  Isn’t my real end goal for our students to be able to transfer their knowledge from the traditional paper assessment to a real life application such as creating a computer animation?

Would love to hear your thoughts….as it appears I am still learning!

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