“Falling in love with code means falling in love with problem solving and being a part of a forever ongoing conversation.” – Kathryn Barrett
Throughout my 20 plus years of teaching I’ve integrated technology in the various subjects I’ve taught because the world needs all our learners to gain the digital skills needed to thrive, connect, and contribute in a connected world. In any subject, students need to know how to conduct research and distribute this information to others digitally either through digital posters, digital books, blogs, videos, podcasts, comics, digital games, infographics, etc. Now I’m a technology teacher for elementary students and I’ve noticed that many love using computers, laptops, mobiles, and other technologies to play games, watch videos, or take pictures, but most students use technology without appreciating how the technology works or does what we want it to. The upcoming Hour of Code event, which takes place December 3rd to 9th, is a wonderful way to help your students gain basic skills needed to understand the technology they use daily and will continue to use throughout their lives. Take the challenge and dedicate at least one class period during this week to completing an Hour of Code activity. This article, Why Kids Should Learn To Code (And How To Get Them Started), provides some useful information to get you started.
💡If you like these ideas, take one of my courses or check out my books. Ask me about training your teachers, [email protected]!
Coding is the ability to write step by step instructions (programs) for a computer to understand to complete a task. The Hour of Code website has tons of ready to go online activities that get students to write code that results in a number of cool outcomes, such as making a monster dance, creating avatars, remixing music or making a game. When students complete these easy tutorials they learn these important skills- logic, problem solving, fitting puzzle pieces together, selection, instructional writing, editing, revision, and creation. Below are some great websites to find engaging coding projects that take an hour or less. Most require no registration! Just provide students with a quick introduction to the task on the projector and the link for them to get started. I would highly recommend doing the activity first. In the next post I will introduce you to unplugged activities, which get students to focus on specific coding skills you will notice in these activities, which include working with puzzles, providing good instructions, problem solving and algorithms.
Made With Code lists different engaging and fun coding activities for beginners to advanced coders and no registration is required. I will describe supplemental activities for using this website in a later post. The projects work by dragging blocks of code on the left hand column to the right hand column and making selections under different categories. Some of the easier activities my students enjoy are coding a Yeti to dance, creating a Holiday avatar, remixing music, or telling a special teacher thank you!
Tynker is another student favorite that includes projects where students learn different programming languages to create, design, and play games. This is suitable for elementary to teens. The activities work with popular brands, such as Minecraft or Barbie. No registration is required for some of the activities, but free registration will give students access to more activities and the ability to earn badges.
BrainPop is a popular resource for any subject mostly for elementary and middle school ages. Find several coding videos, animations, interactives and games. One of the favorite games is Run Marco. Elementary students who are just beginning to code will enjoy this game that has them provide instructions in code to help the players pass levels.
Kodable has different Hour of Code activities that require no registration just choose the option to “Start Without Saving.” The activities are for elementary students and give them the options to design their own fuzz, make their own mazes, or build games.
Code.org has different activities for elementary students to adults. The Hour of Code activities require no registration and get students to choreograph their own dance party, create stories, and more. I love that the projects have introduction video warm ups to help explain the task. I also love the unplugged activities. If students register for free then you are able to track their progress. Registration doesn’t require an email so even elementary students can register safely with picture prompts or codes.
Khan Academy– Students will walk through video lessons that teach them about a programming language then students will have to tweak a code for a specific result. This website is for middle school, teens, and adult learners. I like some of the videos that introduce students to professionals in their work settings who are impacted by computer programming.
TinkerCad– If you have access to a 3D printer students (elementary to adults) can complete several quick learning modules to create rings, name tags, and more. The modules are broken down into very simple steps that often take 5 minutes or less. Following a step produces a quick visual result and helps students build a foundation in designing with a computer. The activities are free but require registration. You can use this without a 3D printer, but students will want to see their designs in real life!
If you like these ideas, take one of my courses or check out my books. Ask me about training your teachers, [email protected]!
Challenge: Dedicate at least one class period during the Hour of Code week to introducing students to the way their computers, smartphones, and smart technologies work!
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