Are you looking to transform the way your community thinks about computer programming? A family coding day might be just what you need.
What Is a Family Coding Day?
Last year, my school ran our first family coding day to celebrate the Hour of Code. We had over 200 people show up for two hours on a Sunday to explore programming in many different forms. During most of this event, we had 12 separate sessions running at the same time, like a professional development conference. Our audience consisted of families with students in K-8, and our main computing platform was the iPad, although we did have two labs of desktop computers and some great offline computing sessions.
Sharing Doubles Learning
One of our guiding principles was 2:1 computing. Since this is a family coding day, we wanted parents and kids coding together on the same device. We capped the rooms at 24 and deployed 12 iPads per room. This was very important because the magic of discovery was shared between the paired coders. It warmed my heart watching grandparents and grandkids working together to solve coding puzzles in Kodable.
A Little Is a Lot
We ran each session for about 40 minutes and kept the tone light and accessible. In many ways, we were showcasing the types of lessons we use every week with our kids in technology class. No one has to create an app in an hour, but we were looking to open their eyes to the range of coding opportunities available today, and how those opportunities can work in an educational context.
Let Them Lead
We asked for help from parents and kids to lead sessions, and I worked with people ahead of time to make sure that they'd be comfortable leading their sessions. Hour of Code is about sharing passion more than knowledge, especially if you are using the tutorials on Code.org.
What Did We Do?
Organizing 12 workshops was not simple, but with the resources from Code.org and some ideas that we developed in house, it was possible. This year, there are even more online tutorial options, and they work better on iOS devices than they did last year. If you are looking for ready-to-go lessons, shop around the Code.org/Learn site and have your pick.
We started by figuring out our capacity in terms of rooms and devices, and we planned enough workshops to fill every room and get eyes on every screen. We used two offline workshops -- Fuzz Family Frenzy (PDF, 413KB) and My Robotic Friends -- as well as a Lego Robot-based workshop to increase our capacity beyond our screen count.
Where Can You Find Resources?
There are more great sources every day for short, accessible coding tutorials. Start with the Code.org/Learn site and their coding curriculum. You will find lessons from offline programing to Blockly script to Java. You can cast a wider net and look to site like Trinket.io for Python tutorials, or CodeCombat for a great Java tutorial. Finally, if you are looking for some tutorials created by teachers for teachers, check out a project that I am proud to be part of, codingconnect.org.
What Do We Have Planned for This Year?
- Building Apps with Tickle
- Programming with Sphero
- Offline Programming
- Java with Code Combat
- Hour of Python
- Scratch Jr.
- Physical Programming with Circuits
- Code.org Curriculum
- Programming with the Robots of Wonder Workshop
Our plans for this year are just coming together, and we already have volunteers from our families and the wider community. We are looking forward to hosting several Silicon Valley local app developers such as Trinket.io and CodeCombat, and we are excited to welcome back Kodable.
You Got This!
What I cannot express is how much this event shifted the conversation about coding on our campus. Parents were able to experience what programming in an educational context is all about. While this might seem like a huge undertaking, you can do this at your school. We have the technology! There is a large community of teachers and programmers working to make Hour of Code happen. With the resources available, you can create a successful event for the families in your community.