Chances are high that computer-science literacy will be increasingly relevant for jobs of the future. Some theorists even suggest that the ability to read and write code is a fundamental 21st-century competency. Yet according to an August 2015 Gallup survey, many students get little exposure to these concepts at school; opportunities are even more limited for low-income students.
To address these realities, there are a variety of free resources that can help teachers of all grades and subjects give students exposure to computer science, as well as access to opportunities that develop the skills required to approach coding problems.
Running December 4–10, 2017, the Hour of Code campaign during Computer Science Education Week is one such opportunity. Code.org hosts this event to engage students, teachers, parents, and others (ages 4 and up, and of any experience level) in fun ways to experiment with programming and game creation. From structured lessons to more creative, exploratory activities, a variety of experiences make coding accessible to all kinds of learners. Activities can be done on computers, phones, and tablets, in pairs or together as a whole group. If access to devices is an issue, try unplugged activities such as My Robotic Friends that don’t require them.
Hour of Code tutorials can be accessed at any time by anyone. If you are a parent and your child is not participating at school, you might consider doing an hour of code together as a family. Although some schools may choose to conduct school-wide events, it’s also feasible to participate as a single class. Teachers don’t need to know anything about coding in advance, though if introducing programming to your students fills your heart with dread, check out Terri Eichholz’s advice in “Code Dread.” (For elementary teachers, her simplified scope and sequence for grades K–5 is also worth reviewing.)
Resources to Help You Run an Hour of Code Event
- Watch “How to Run an Hour of Code”
- Download or print the Hour of Code participation guide (PDF)
- Watch “Best Practices From Successful Educators”
- Follow #HourofCode on Twitter
Code.org Tutorial Highlights
- Do you have robots? Check out some of the activities for robotics.
- Know some Minecraft aficionados? Participants older than age 6 can use blocks of code to take characters Steve or Alex on an adventure through a Minecraft world.
- Tutorials for younger and older students let users maneuver old and new Star Wars characters like R2-D2, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Rey, and BB-8 through various game actions and events.
Hour of Code Across Grade Levels and Content Areas
Coding activities aren't just a fit for math and computer science; they can also be a part of lessons and projects in English, social studies, science, art, and beyond. Students at the elementary level, even in kindergarten, can benefit from opportunities to practice computational thinking. Check out the following resources to explore sample activities:
- Teacher-led lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school in various subjects (Code.org)
- “Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level” (Ask a Tech Teacher, 2015)
- “Coding for Kindergarteners” (Edutopia, 2014)
After the Hour of Code
Explore the following resources for ideas on how to make opportunities to code and exercise computational-thinking skills an integral part of classroom activities throughout the year:
- “Life After the Hour of Code” (Edutopia, 2014)
- “15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer)” (Edutopia, 2015)
- “Coding Across the Curriculum” (Edutopia, 2017)
Parents can take advantage of these resources:
- “Teach Your Kids to Code: 6 Beginner's Resources for Parents” (Edutopia, 2016)
- Interactive holiday cards made with Scratch (Ages 8+)
Short on time in December? Code.org’s tutorials are available throughout the year, and you can visit Edutopia’s Coding in the Classroom page for additional support and resources.