Next week is Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), and we know many teachers and students of all ages are preparing to take part. The easiest way is to participate in the #HourOfCode--committing one hour of class time to a coding activity. We understand that leading an #HourOfCode activity might seem daunting to instructors without previous coding experience. But fear not! Vast plug-and-play, self-guided resources are available (and almost all free!), so facilitating a coding lesson can be fun for anyone.
Give #CSEdWeek and the #HourOfCode a try with some of our favorite resources to guide you. It doesn't matter if this is your first stab at coding or if you're just learning to read (wait, what are you doing on a blog?). You might love princesses or Angry Birds, or you might not even have a computer (again, how are you reading this??). No matter what, there’s a tutorial, game, or guide for you. Here are our favorite resources to use during your Hour of Code:
- Frozen. This game from Code.org enables kids to ice skate in patterns, using blocks to write code (while they still learn that text code is occurring “under the hood”) and ultimately sharing their product with friends and their social network.
- Scratch Jr. From the creators of Scratch, the Scratch Jr. programming interface is specially designed for young coders, ages 5-7. Follow these instructions for engaging young students in the Hour Of Code.
- Kodable. With the tag line “learn to code before you can read,” Kodable offers several resources and modules for young kids, including classroom plans to teach coding. Kodable is free for classrooms with 25 or fewer students.
- Made with Code. Google's Made with Code projects provide students with step-by-step instructions for getting started with coding. One timely activity involves decorating the nation's holiday trees at the White House.
- Robot Dance or Mirror Images. Use these "unplugged" activities to get young students thinking like computer scientists regardless of access to technology.
- Angry Birds + Plants vs. Zombies. This self-paced activity provides all the instruction students need to take a crack at coding. With short modules and engaging challenges, students will walk away empowered to learn more!
- Scratch. The Scratch Ed team at Harvard's School of Education developed three simple tutorials that guide students through making an interactive holiday card, animating their name, or creating a Pong-style game.
- Hopscotch. Using the free iOS app, these Hopscotch activities help students create their own games.
- Unplugged. No access to technology? No problem. The folks at CSEdWeek.org created these unplugged activities just for you!
- MIT App Inventor. Using this free programming interface from MIT, these four lesson plan ideas allow students to create their own Andriod apps, an extremely relevant and exciting facet of computer science.
- TouchDevelop. The team at TouchDevelop offers a great introductory video with a breakdown of what code is and all the things that depend on it. Several tutorials help children learn coding in various environments. You'll find excellent supporting materials to plan lessons for the Hour of Code.
- Best Technology. With this "unplugged" activity, students discuss and debate the more influential technological inventions of the past 20 to 30 years.
- Flappy Code. Create the popular game Flappy Bird in about 10 minutes. Check out this tutorial.
- Play Studio. This activity provides a natural progression from the introductory lessons, offering more challenging coding concepts like conditional logic and the ability to create more sophisticated programs.
Looking to go beyond an hour?
- Courses from Code.org. For grades K-5, these self-paced, interactive lessons are filled with video tutorials and helpful feedback. Specifically designed for early readers, Course 1 uses images, not text, to guide students through activities.
- Google's CS First. These downloadable, free curricula provide materials for facilitating computer science clubs. The focus is on showing the applications of CS (e.g., Music, Fashion & Design) and providing a supportive group environment for learning how to code. Setting up a club is a great way to go beyond the Hour Of Code.
- Hopscotch. With seven, 45-minute activities and lesson-plan materials, Hopscotch (a free iOS app) provides a wonderful resource for integrating coding into your curriculum.
- Code Academy. With over 24 million registered learners, Codeacademy provides a wide range of resources and tutorials for learning to code.
Lastly, is coding you day job? There's an Hour of Code activity for you too! Enhance students' coding experiences by providing personalized, relevant hints to Hour of Code activities.
Coding is fun, and it’s the basic language on which all computer science knowledge can be built. We hope that taking part in the Hour of Code can be a fun experience and shine a light on a skill and capability that students didn’t know they had.
There’s a growing recognition that computer science is a vital field of study (although one that, we feel, is still undervalued, but we’ll discuss that next week!). And there are many, many resources to teach coding, the basic building blocks of computer science. While coding is simply a starting point, a solid understanding of how to code teaches kids how to think (to paraphrase Steve Jobs) and enables the deeper study of computer science.
Let us know what resources you’re planning to use, and please share this post with other teachers to encourage them to try the Hour of Code.