I was super excited to attend Hack Education (originally called “EdubloggerCon”), an all-day unconference held the Friday before the formal start of ISTE 2014. This interactive day of learning, now in its eighth year, was touted to me as the event to attend in Atlanta, and it did not disappoint. The informal, small-group conversations were inclusive and welcoming. The "rule of two feet" meant that if you needed to move, you were encouraged. And session topics were diverse -- on the schedule were discussions about maker education, augmented reality, design thinking, game-based learning, coding in the classroom, digital storytelling, and many, many more!
In an attempt to heed Dave Guymon’s call to share the ISTE learning (see his blog post on Getting Smart, "Don’t Leave Your Learning Behind: What To Do Now That #ISTE2014 Is Over"), here are some resources discussed by a group of elementary and secondary educators during a morning session on coding in the classroom. No matter what grade or subject you teach, you're certain to find something here you can use. Notes from this and several other sessions can be found on the wiki for ISTE Unplugged; also check out the Twitter stream from the event at #HackEd14 or #HackEducation.
Coding Curriculum, Activities, and Projects
Code.org: If you didn’t have a chance to participate in “Hour of Code” this year during Computer Science Education Week, consider participating with your class next year. Additional resources have been uploaded to Code.org since the initiative was launched. Check out the free, K-8 Intro to Computer Science course; it includes a mix of web-based and unplugged activities.
Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA): The CSTA website houses information about standards for computer science education in grades K-12. Also see their highlighted resources page.
Scratch, ScratchJr, and ScratchED: Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab for ages 8-16, Scratch is a free, web-based, visual-programming environment. Users of Scratch can share projects and check out the projects of others in the online community; participation can help students learn important lessons about digital responsibility and digital citizenship. Reference the Scratch curriculum guide and this video overview on Scratch for help getting started.
Computer Science Unplugged: CS Unplugged offers a series of activities for teaching coding concepts to children without technology. For example, in "Harold the Robot," children give directions to a “robot” and learn how instructions are interpreted literally by computers. Be sure to explore other low-tech ways to help children in the younger grades to explore coding concepts, including games; board games (such as the soon-to-be-released Code Monkey Island) are another approach to explore.
Projects and Additional Projects, from Google’s Made w/Code: Looking for coding projects designed with girls in mind? These beginning and intermediate coding projects from Made with Code -- an initiative championing creativity, girls, and code -- are an excellent place to start.
Applications for Programming and Teaching Coding
Here are just a few of the other web- and tablet-based applications that were discussed; see some of Edutopia's recent blogs, listed below, for additional suggestions and other resources.
Related Blogs on Coding in the Classroom from Edutopia
- "Five-Minute Film Festival: Teaching Kids to Code," by Amy Erin Borovoy (2014)
- "15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer)," by Vicki Davis (2013)
- "7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills," by Anna Adam (2013)
- "Should Coding be the "New Foreign Language" Requirement?" by Helen Mowers (2013)
- "Coding Across the Curriculum," by Matthew Farber (2013)
Some Final Notes
If you haven’t attended an unconference like this one, I highly encourage you to do so! Edutopia's events page, updated weekly, includes a list of upcoming unconferences. The Edcamps page includes more information about Edcamp-style unconferences. Do you know of other helpful resources related to coding in the classroom? We’d appreciate hearing about your experiences, resources, or questions in the comments. And if you attended ISTE 2014, consider participating in Edutopia’s community spaces to share your learning from one of education’s biggest technology conferences.