Why Learn to Code? Listen to the best in the industry!
What is Coding?
Basically it is the language that the computer speaks! It is a list of commands and tasks that you tell a computer to complete. (A good analogy is pushing the buttons on a microwave to cook/heat your food a certain way, or how you tell a character in a video game to do certain things.)
Ms Florzack's Computer Literacy Class during Hour of Code
Hour of Code is available year-round, but every year in December your class can join millions of students around the world celebrating Computer Science Education Week with the Hour of Code. Registration for the annual celebration starts each year in October.
What is Hour of Code
You might have heard about Hour of Code and other initiatives to help students learn about programming concepts at an early age. So, why all the push to get kids coding early? Beyond the critical skills children learn (e.g. math, logic, problem solving), let’s face it… technology is an increasingly predominant piece of our lives. Grasping these concepts at an earlier age and fully appreciating the fundamentals will pay off for students down the road.
HTML/CSS – this is really what makes the web work. HTML is considered a MARKUP language. using tags to change how text appears. Adding in CSS allows more complicated formatting. If they want to create the next Facebook or Twitter, then this would be a good starting point.
Python – typically considered a scripting language, this one’s powerful! Kids can do a ton with this one. What’s even cooler is that it’s widely used in a lot of industries… start early with this one and it will carry a lot of shelf life!
Java, C++ – these are going to have a more complicated syntax and are considered to be languages that use compilers. My first computer science course in college used Java. For students who are more advanced or considering pursuing a programming-related path, this would be one to work towards after gaining more programming familiarity.
Lua – have a future game developer looking to get started? This is what they should work towards learning. Ever heard of Angry Birds or Roblox? Yup, they’re built on Lua.
FREE Coding Websites your students will love!
This is truly the top of the heap! If you’re in the early stages of finding resources, this is where you should probably start first. Code.org offers a broad collection of courses and modules for kids as young as kindergarten and stretching all the way up to university level. Students largely focus on game and app development, so there is tangible, real-world coding going on.
Specifically designed for younger kids just starting out on their coding journey, ScratchJr uses coding blocks that kids click together to execute commands. If you’re familiar with Scratch, there won’t be too many surprises here.
Scratch was originally created at MIT and provides a pretty cool environment for kids to learn about general programming concepts (like loops, conditions and variables) as well as how to build coding projects. Students can make games, apps and movies.
This is Microsoft’s portal and intro to coding largely in the Windows environment. However, they do have several tutorials for kids, including Minecraft.
Code Monster offers ~60 interactive lessons with an input/output approach. Kids follow instructions from Code Monster and watch the changes in real-time to see how the output is altered.
Blockly uses a series of games to build up programming concepts and introduce kids to the basics like loops, conditionals and functions. Students work their way up towards text based programming.
Apple’s Swift Playgrounds introduces kids to programming concepts using a game/puzzle based approach. As kids answer questions and enter responses, the code comes together and executes. General programming concepts are covered (e.g. loops, types, functions). Kids can connect Swift Playgrounds with robotics toys like Sphero to control robots and drones.
Kids use the familiar block-based programming that they used in ScratchJr/Scratch.
Kds create fully functioning games while using the drag-n-drop/Scratch-style coding.
CoSpaces Edu offers the perfect solution for beginners just getting started with coding, as well as scripting languages for more experienced coders.
Learn more... Check out these resources
"Help Kids Open Doors to New Worlds"
"Make Coding a Student Centered Activity"
Always remember to have fun... It's a learning experience!