A Beginner’s Guide to Bringing Coding Into the Classroom


A Beginner’s Guide to Bringing Coding Into the Classroom

By Kasey Bell     Nov 30, 2015

A Beginner’s Guide to Bringing Coding Into the Classroom

This article is part of the collection: Teaching Kids to Code.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, computer science skills are vastly becoming some of the most in-demand skills of the twenty-first century. In fact, some call it a new "superpower."

But there’s a problem. There are approximately 587,000 computing jobs nationwide, which is growing at 2x the national average, but only about 38,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce this year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the year 2020, there will be one million more computer science jobs than graduates prepared for these jobs.

Computer science is a primary driver of the U.S. economy, yet it does not (yet) play a significant role in K-12 education. Did you know that only 27 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation? But there’s a way schools can help--by getting involved in Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek).

CSEdWeek and Hour of Code arrive December 7-13th, and this annual event is bigger than ever. Below, you will find a resource guide for CSEdWeek and Hour of Code, in order to help all of you K-12 educators bring coding into the classroom.

What are Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) and Hour of Code?

Computer Science Education Week or CSEdWeek is an annual program designed to inspire K-12 students to take an interest in computer science. The program was originated by the Computing in the Core coalition, Code.org, and is supported by partners and educators worldwide. The philosophy is simple but significant: every student deserves the opportunity to learn computer science.

Hour of Code is a global movement in over 180 countries, and is a quick way to introduce coding to students or anyone. Anyone can learn the basics of computer science in a fun and easy way! By spending as little as one hour, you can spark coding interest in your students with one-hour lesson plans, tutorials, interactives and games.

How to Run an Hour of Code

Ready to get started? Running an Hour of Code doesn’t have to be complicated. The resources are abundant and easy-to-follow.

No matter what grade level you teach, or what devices you have available, every student can participate in the Hour of Code and learn the basic principles that apply to all programming languages (like sequencing and looping). There are even options to go “unplugged” if you do not have access to devices in your classroom, because students can learn computer science principles with something as simple as a deck of cards.

Coding Resources & Lessons

There are hundreds of free resources, lesson plans, tutorials and events that bring the power of coding into the K-12 classroom. Below is a list of nine of my favorite options for anyone of any age to learn computer science skills. If you'd like to see more, click here to view my full list of coding resources.

Title Description Languages Devices Ages
Write Your First Program Drag and drop blocks to learn the basics of computer programming with self-directed tutorials and lectures from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. 37 languages modern browsers, smartphones & tablets 4 - 10
Kodable Students learn the fundamentals of programming through the game. English iPad 5+
Star Wars Drag and drop blocks to create your own Star Wars game! Students work with Rey to program the BB-8 droid to collect scraps. many modern browsers, smartphones & tablets 6 - 10
Minecraft Use blocks of code to take Steve or Alex on an adventure through this Minecraft world. English modern browsers and tablets 6+
Hopscotch Drag and drop editor allows students to create and publish their own games. English iPad 7 - 14
Code with Anna & Elsa Drag and drop blocks to create snowflakes with Anna and Elsa as they ice skate. English modern browsers and tablets 8+
CS First (Google) Drag and drop editor using the Scratch program language to complete many different projects. English Chromebooks, laptops, desktops 9 - 14

Other Programming Languages

Hour of Drawing with Code Khan Academy tutorial: Learn how to draw with code (Javascript and ProcessingJS). English modern browsers and iPad 8+
Codecademy Learn the basics of JavaScript through this interactive guide, includes accompanying quizzes and slides. English modern browsers, iOS and Android 14+

For even more, check out all the lessons and resources from Code.org and their partners. I have also curated a YouTube playlist of inspirational videos and tutorials on coding. Still looking for more resources? Check out the Shake Up Learning Coding Pinterest Board.

Computer Science Unplugged

No computer? No problem. As mentioned earlier, you can still teach and learn the basic principles of computer science without any computer or device at all. Try CS Unplugged, which is a collection of learning activities that teach computational thinking concepts without the need of a computer or device.

Moving Beyond the Hour of Code

Jumpstart Your Curriculum

The Hour of Code is just a starting point. When you and your students are ready for more, explore these fantastic resources, or give your teaching a boost with one of the following curriculums. (Keep in mind--most of these curriculums are tied in with the tools of the companies that created them!)

Professional Development and School District Partnerships

There are hundreds of events happening all over the globe, educators. To find an event near you, visit this link. Code.org also offers resources and training for educators and school districts. Find a professional learning event near you to learn more about the initiative and how to bring coding into your classroom. In fact, if you’re already a computer science teacher, you can become a Code.org facilitator.

And for you district administrators, listen up! Code.org offers district partnerships to bring computer science to your entire district. Apply now--it’s totally free!

Girls and Coding

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.

Get Involved, No Matter Your Position!

Not a classroom teacher, but still want to get involved? Spread the word with https://code.org/promote or https://csedweek.org/promote. Or, even better, become a Code.org volunteer.

No matter what your role, be it classroom teacher, administrator, parent, or community member, there are multiple ways to support CSEdWeek. Preparing students for the future, and equipping them with essential skills for success is always the end goal. Every student deserves a chance to learn computer science! Get started this week with the Hour of Code!

Kasey Bell is a Google Certified Innovator and a digital learning consultant with a passion for technology and learning. Check out her blog ShakeUpLearning.com. She recently won the "Sharing is Caring" 2015 Digital Innovation in Learning Award.

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