Coding in December has become the thing to do now that Hour of Code has begun sweeping the nation, and this is a very good thing!
But is it being explicitly taught or better yet infused in other curricular areas in most schools? That’s a question worth examining in some detail. My experience tells me that it is not. And I wonder why this is so. As I reflect on this, I wonder if it is because the value & flexibility of coding is undervalued! Also that coding is seen as somehow a mystical, magical beast that will be incredibly difficult to learn and even harder to bring to students in a meaningful way.
Nothing could be farther from the truth!
Coding is seen as something that is cool and engaging by almost all students. And while “cool” is nice, what really matters are the lasting benefits of building a coding skill set:
- Logical thinking
- Problem solving
These skills should look familiar… Shauna Cornwell in her latest monthly Eyes on Innovation November 2015 refers to Michael Fullan’s 4 Cs and 6 Cs…
Other educators, particularly in the older grades look to this model from Michael Fullan (@MichaelFullan1) – The 6 c’s of Deeper Learning when having conversations with students around 21st century learning.
Let’s look at this another way… The 3 of the 5 reasons outlined below are potent ones that fit into cluster 0, critical thinking, inquiry, design process structures used throughout the Division and Province. With very little tweaking a programming, coding process can be added into these processes easily as I will show later in the article.
It would seem that reasons for coding in education are easily enough defended from a pedagogical point of view. The reasons listed above are well supported in theory and practice! So there is no reasons not to try coding. Except how does one start the process? It seems daunting. This is the logical next step to explore…
How does a teacher start the process of coding?
Coding has a lot to offer in terms of getting kids thinking, problem solving and collaborating. It can be infused in math, science, ELA and any other subject with relative ease. There are an increasing number of ways to get this done. Edutopia has an excellent article entitle 15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer). And these are just the tip of the coding iceberg.
This is where I would start my journey in learning about coding and helping younger students learning about coding.
However, the Hour of Code is just a starting point. When you and your students are ready for more, there are tremendous resources all over the Internet to explore. Keep in mind some of these are for profit organizations and have a cost attached.
- Code.org Curriculum
- Codecademy Curriculum
- Khan Academy Curriculum
- Kodable Curriculum for Elementary
- Tynker Curriculum
There are a growing number of iPad, Tablet & Web-based (see already listed above) apps that promote coding as well. These apps often have their own support sites or online conduits or information sharing services.
- Apple’s Swift Playground
- Cargo Bot
- Coda Game
- Code Art
- Code Combat
- Dynamic Art
- Hackety Hack
- Hopscotch & Hopscotch for Schools
- Lego Bits & Bricks
- Lightbot Jr. & Lightbot: Code Hour
- Move the Turtle Lessons
- Ready formally Kandu
- Robot School
- Scratch Jr
- The Foos Coding
- Tickle App
Here are some more Advanced tools for those that want to delve deeper still…
- Microsoft’s Touch Develop
- The CodingGame
- Unity Game Engine
A colleague of mine stumbled upon this link to a listing of grade level applications for coding. While I am not convinced that all the apps are truly locked into the grade levels suggested, they are generally targeted at the right age levels. For the sake of having the listing I am including the linked resource. Grade Level Coding Apps and Resources
I thought It might also be useful to talk briefly about a process to use for coding. There are many constructivist based processes like the design or inquiry processes that would serve as a starting place for a coding process. I would suggest adding only a few wrinkles to flesh out, otherwise solid, processes that have proven their worth in then educational realm. Below is an example of how a design process can be modified in three simple ways to make it more suitable for a coding process. This can be accomplished with whatever thinking or design process you happen to be comfortable with.
Girls and Coding
One final consideration before leaving you to begin your coding venture is that of gender balance…. The gender gap in the computer science industry is astonishing. Women today represent only 18% of all computer science graduates. In 1984, women were 37%. Encourage girls and young women to get started with coding using these inspiring programs.