MakeCode Arcade: Using Coding to Encourage Creativity, Collaboration & Problem-Solving in Wellbeing

I have recently started teaching coding as part of the wellbeing curriculum in my school. You might think; what has coding got to do with a student’s wellbeing? It turns out, quite a lot!

Collaboration & Problem-Solving

Firstly; wellbeing focusses on the junior cycle key skill of staying well. It is outlined in the wellbeing guidelines that under this key skill students should: be positive about learning, be social, be confident and be responsible, safe and ethical in using digital technology. Microsoft MakeCode Arcade provides the perfect platform to meet these needs.

Once a week, myself and my 2nd year Junior Cycle class set out on learning new skills in coding and work as a team to create our own personalised games.

Using MakeCode Arcade has allowed for some wonderful teaching and learning. I have been amazed at students’ problem-solving skills and their willingness to help their peers and share their ideas with each other.

We have learned that coding can be very frustrating when you get a “bug” in your code and have no idea where you’ve went wrong! Students have proven to be very capable of using their problem solving skills when their game is on the line! Having such a rewarding end goal encourages them to persevere in resolving the bug. I think that this gives the students the opportunity to gain confidence for other subjects, helping them to improve their problem solving skills and their patience when they are finding a topic difficult.

Students achieve this by rethinking their code, scanning through it to find their bug, discussing with their classmates how they might fix it and determining the best way to do so. The hope is that they will apply this process to their other subjects. It is amazing observing the students working in pairs or teams to assist each other with a shared goal: showing off their impressive new game!

Examples of “bugs” in the block code

Getting Creative

Microsoft MakeCode encourages students to tap into their creative skills, which is another key skill for the junior cycle! Students create their backgrounds, effects and use pixel art to make their own old school arcade sprite. (characters in the MakeCode land).

The creative stages of the game allow students to express themselves and really personalise their scenes, characters and theme of their game. It’s a chance for students to explore another side to game design, which may spark an interest for a future career!

Using MakeCode Arcade has created a student lead learning environment in my classes. Coding from a young age gives students the opportunity to explore a career path that is very prevalent in today’s society. It has helped in developing their communication, collaboration, creative and problem-solving skills, with the added bonus of coding fantastic, personalised games!

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