Computers are everywhere, changing every industry on the planet. Computing occupations are the fastest-growing, best paying, and the largest sector of all new wages in the United States. It truly is changing every industry on the planet.
The language of computing, coding, is a language that allows people to take charge of the device, and to go far beyond accessing information or utilizing activities (or playing games).
The Hour of Code began as a one-hour coding challenge to give students a fun first introduction to computer science. It quickly grew into an annual activity with participation in the millions, and with students from kindergarten through college. It also has sparked a larger conversation about the value of teaching computer science in schools, and also about the amount of learning that takes place when students participate in the language of coding.
Coding is truly a new literacy. It provides students with the opportunity for personal expression and storytelling in incredible new ways. The logical progression of the coding process requires student to storyboard, plan ahead, and think critically. It provides them creative ways to share those stories with others, as well as to build upon the stories created by others.
Coding puts students in situations where they face frustration and find solutions for their problems. They need to think outside the box as they retrace their steps, fix their mistakes, “debug” their programming, and move successfully to the next step. As they move through their process students are continuing questioning, testing the steps, and refining their work.
When coding, students often work together, and are encouraged to collaborate and learn from others. They gain so much from participating in a project where communication and teamwork is required.
The increase of STEM in our schools has allowed for more coding practice in both the elementary and middle schools, where students are completing coding activities on their tablets and Chromebooks through Code.org, Scratch and other online coding programs. These activities are challenging for students, but provide a scaffolding of skills in a process that feels similar to playing games. Students are also utilizing coding when they work with robots and drones. Many classrooms are purchasing small sets of Sphero robots and Dot & Dash robots and providing time for groups of students to create strings of sophisticated code that cause the robots to perform complicated tasks.
While not every classroom has time to add any coding activities to their curriculum, and not every teacher feels comfortable attempting to teach coding, Code.org, in partnership with numerous companies, has created a huge resource of coding activities that take approximately one hour to complete. These activities are located at https://hourofcode.com/us and are sorted by grade level. Consider partnering your students together, or joining with another class and participating.
You can start with the 2018 promotional Hour of Code video, and then direct the students to select the activities of their choice on the Hour of Code website: www.hourofcode.com. In lower grade levels you may wish to select only one or two activities and direct children to select the one of their choosing. By partnering younger students with an older class, or matching your students together so that stronger readers work with a struggling reader, you will allow for some reading/direction assistance that may be needed.
I would love to organize an Hour of Code with you, or help your class participate in the Hour of Code! Please contact me if you’d like some support.
Get started at http://hourofcode.com/us