The Key(note) to Coding Version 2

There is a misconception when it comes to thinking about coding; some think it’s only for computer programmers and others think it’s too difficult. To put it simply, coding is giving a set of instructions to the computer to create an action. In this post, I will give the instructions that were in my first publication of this idea from my iTunes U Course (2015) as well as some fun updates! This project combines coding concepts and encourages students to understand basic coding concepts in ways that also spark their creativity. Students will use Keynote to create pictures out of basic shapes and learn the variety of ways to format shapes while taking note of the shape’s placement, size, color, and rotation. Once the picture is complete, students will write all of the “code” so that another student can replicate their picture. It would be very difficult to teach someone how to recreate a particular shape with precise measurements, but when given the exact “code” students are able to follow it and replicate the picture with ease. In addition to coding skills, students learn vocabulary for working and manipulating shapes, such as arrange, flip, size, position, and rotation. It’s perfect as a stand alone project targeting STEM or within your geometry unit as you discuss variations of shapes. This is designed for Mac OS because of the advanced tools in Keynote, however, students can use this idea as a guide for building and creating pictures with basic shapes on an iOS device as well. This is a great time to teach kids the design process and utilizing an engineering mindset as they will make mistakes, but through testing their codes, they will go back and refine and improve their code so that it’s just right for replication!

In my original iTunes U Course, I had students create tangram shapes. However, I didn’t want to limit students to just creating tangrams, so I changed this so students can create pictures of anything with basic shapes. This allows for a deeper level creativity. It is easier for students if they create pictures with 7 or less basic shapes as this helps with time creating the code as well as completing a partner’s code.

Before you get started, you will need to add a third party tool for the color picker. This will allow you to be specific with the colors and students will add the HTML Hex RGB #. With this option, students can be creative with colors they choose for their pictures. It is important to note that students should use solid colors only, no gradient or image fills for shapes.

Here are the steps:

Step 1:

Using basic shapes, create a picture (train, car, house, anything…be creative). Once the picture is complete, “Select All” and move the picture to one side of the screen to leave room for the code you will create. *Important note: The size of the slide is important. For this project, I’d recommend all students use the same standard slide size.

Step 2:

Use this PDF to print or distribute through Google Classroom. In Keynote, students will click on the Format (paintbrush) tool and then the Arrange tool. This is where they will note the shape, size, position, rotation, and color of each individual shape. I think if a student focuses on writing the code for each individual shape, then it’s easier to keep track of when writing the code on their Keynote slide. I prefer to have students handwrite the code and then transfer that to the slide, as it creates less errors. Since precision is so important, it’s a good step in the process.

Step 3:

Insert a square and create a larger rectangle on the Keynote slide to type in the code. *Note: Type out the required elements once, and copy and paste to save time.

Step 4:

Once you are finished with your picture and you’ve typed out the code, export slide as an image. Upload to a shared photo album (Photos, Google Drive, Google Photos, Once students have a partner, they can download their partner’s code and start the process of creating their picture based off the code of their partner. Remind students to take notes if they have to “debug” the code as this is good feedback for the creator.

Remind students that they need to be exact, specific, concise, and pay close attention to detail.

Step 5:

Once students successfully or unsuccessfully complete the code, have them complete a reflection for their partner. You can download the reflection here.

Happy creating! This has always been one of my favorite projects!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s