Teaching coding:3 Steps to Becoming a Coding Teacher, By Grant Smith
2. Prepare Yourself and Your Classroom
Notice how I included resources above for adults to learn coding. That means you! I recommend that you first review your selected curriculum and then move on to the more complicated stuff. I highly recommend the Intro to CS and Intro to Programming courses on Udacity. You should also prepare for your class by answering the following questions:
- What are your learning expectations for the students? (Check out these learning outcomes for the Khan Academy course as an example.)
- Are your students learning computational thinking, computer science, or computer programming? (There is a difference. Check out Harvard research on computational thinking.)
- What’s your classroom layout? (See my post for ideas.)
- Will your students work at their own pace or at your pace?
- Will students work through a curriculum, or will it be project based?
- How will students collaborate?
- How will students share their work with you, their peers, and the world?
- How will student accounts be managed? Will you create them? Do you need parent or administrator permission?
- Why should your students learn to code? (Students are more excited to learn when you are excited to teach. Check out the Top Ten Reasons to Code.)
- How will you assess your students? (This PDF details some research on assessing computational thinking.)
3. Get Support
Just because anyone can learn to code online doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it. Code.org’s research found that “students who are learning with the support of their teacher in a classroom setting complete courses more than those learning on their own” (Teachers Matter). We all know that for teachers to be successful, we need support. So rally the troops!
- Find a champion for your coding crusade. The higher level the champion is, the easier it will be for you to gain access to resources and spread the word about your 21st-century class.
- Get the community involved. Host an Hour of Codecommunity event. Last year, the Avondale Elementary School District held an Hour of Code event where the students taught their parents how to program.
- Build your PLN. Follow people on your favorite social network and ask for help. Some great hashtags are#CSK8, #KidsCanCode, and #AllKidsCode.
- Present to your governing board. Show them how your curriculum aligns to CCSS and builds 21st-century skills.
Jump Into 21st-Century Learning!
If you’ve already had successful experiences coding in your class, share them in the comments section of this post or on your PLN. If not, you may be asking the following questions:
- Will you know the answer to every question that your students will have?
- Will you feel well rested, prepared, and in control at all times?
- Will every class run without a hitch?
Answers: 1) No. 2) You wish. 3) In your dreams!
Will it be worth it? You better believe it! Now go make it happen!
15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code
(Even Without a Computer)
…While the Hour of Code is in December, Code.org hassuggested resources for educators, unplugged lessons (those not requiring computers), and tutorials to help you teach computer science to kids of all ages any time of the year….
- Scratch is a programming game that can be downloaded or used on the Web and is supported by MIT. They’ve got a powerful Hour of Code tutorial where students can program a holiday card in their web browser.
- Lightbot has a version on just about any platform and even has an online one-hour version. This puzzle game has a free version which lasts an hour but sells full versions on iTunes and Google Play. It teaches planning, testing, debugging, procedures, and loops.
- Kodu is another programming tool that can be easily used on a PC or XBOX to create a simple game. There’s also a math curriculum. This is one method that Pat Yongpradit, Code.org’s Director of Education, used in his computer science classroom. (I’ve used it as well.)
- Gamestar Mechanic offers a free version that you might want to use for your hour, but if you fall in love with it, the educational package allows teachers to track student progress, among other features. The company supports educators, and there’s also an Edmodo community that shares lesson plans and ideas for the tool, along withvideos and a must-see teacher’s guide.
- GameMaker is an option if you want to make games that can be played in any web browser. The resources aren’t as comprehensive and the community isn’t vibrant, but this one has been around for a while and might be fun for a more tech-savvy teacher.
- My Robot Friend is a highly-rated app according toCommon Sense Media. It costs $3.99, but no in-app purchases are required to go to higher levels.
- SpaceChem is an interesting mix of chemistry, reading, and programming for age 12 and up. As students read the 10,000-word novelette, they have to solve puzzles by assembling molecules. SpaceChem created a helpful guide for educators. This tool is available for download on Steam and installation on Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu. (Download a free demo.)
- CodeCombat is a multiplayer game that teaches coding. It’s free to play at the basic level, and students don’t have to sign up. This has the advantage that teachers don’t have to know computer science to empower learning in this programming. It’s recommended for age 9 and up. See theteacher guide for the information and standards covered in this game.
- Minecraft.edu is an option that lets you install and use Minecraft in the classroom. While this does require some purchase and setup, Minecraft seems to be gaining in popularity among educators as an in-house, 3D world-programming environment that kids love. Minecraft.edu has a Google group and best practices wiki. (My son took a course at Youth Digital that taught him Java to mod Minecraft — while pricey, it was a great course.)
- Do you want a board game for older children? Code Monkey Island is designed for children age 9 and up. This is a great addition to your game corner.
Tutorials Point originated from the idea that there exists a class of readers who respond better to online content and prefer to learn new skills at their own pace from the comforts of their drawing rooms. The journey commenced with a single tutorial on HTML in 2006 and elated by the response it generated, we worked our way to adding fresh tutorials to our repository which now proudly flaunts a wealth of tutorials and allied articles on topics ranging from programming languages to web designing to academics and much more.