Monday, November 27, 2017

Why Coding Should be in the Classroom


I remember when I was a school level Technology and Learning Coach, I loved working with the students and coding, whether it was with the 4th/5th Grade “Game Coding Club” that I ran or the events I coordinated for the yearly Hour of Code activities for the school. The students were engaged and showed such excitement while programming the characters to move; it was motivating for me to keep coding going for the school. However, just like other other “cool” thing there isn’t enough time to add in something new and then there’s the idea of how to connect coding to curriculum?



Learning to program/code does not need to just stop after the week of Hour of Code ends. (Which, if you are not aware yet, Hour of Code is the week of December 4, 2017.) This week of introducing coding is just the start of something new for the students. When students are programming/coding, they are given an opportunity to utilize and build skills such as logical thinking, problem-solving, perseverance, creativity and self confidence. These skills are not often found in a day to day lesson, however, these are world class skills employees need to be successful in today’s real world work force.

Let’s start preparing our students for the computer science professions and it does not need to be “just another thing”. I want you to think of a standard where you ask your students to develop and use models. Good teaching practices allows for student choice in how they want to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the new content. Why not add an option for students to develop their “model” through coding/programming? Take SC Science Standard 7.L.3.A.3 for example. In order to show mastery of the content, students should be able to develop and use models to explain how the relevant structures within cells function to support the life of plants, animals and bacterial cells. Coding the model through Scratch, for example, could also allow students an avenue to explain how one thing affects another.  For example, 6th Grade Social Studies Standard, 6-6.6; Explain the effects of the exchange of plants, animals, diseases, and technology throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas (known as the Columbian Exchange). Could a student program the effects to demonstrate their level of mastery using Gameblox? What I love about this idea is that the students are now applying their knowledge to creating content, rather than just consuming it.

So, you don’t know how to code or support the students in this creation, but you are open to giving your students an opportunity to extend their knowledge. Honestly, it is ok that you don’t know coding/programming. Our students tend to be one step ahead of us when it comes to the latest technology, it could be a disservice for us to restrict students because we are not familiar with it. Think of it as an opportunity to practice facilitating new opportunities for students. Here are some suggested websites that are free and can walk you through your first coding/program experience.  

Website
Ages
Type of coding
Cost
4-14
Block coding
Free
4-14
Block coding
Free
5-17
Python/Java Script
Core levels are free
8-16,
Block Coding
Free
13+
Java Script
Free
12+,
Python/Java/HTML coding
Free trial
13+
Block coding
Free
13+
HTML, CSS, JavaScript
Free
13+
HTML, CSS, Python, JavaSCript
Free courses
14+
JavaScript, Python,
Free
13+
JavaScript, HTML, CSS
Free

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