Learning to code has become a must-have experience in education. It not only gives students an important skill set for a future job market that will value coding abilities, but it also teaches valuable skills like problem-solving, analytical thinking, and collaboration.
Even with all of that value, getting students excited to code can be a daunting task for teachers, especially if computer science is not his/her specialty. Check out these helpful tips and resources for getting students interested in coding in the classroom:
1. Start as early as possible
The younger students start learning to code, the easier and more natural it will be for them. Ideally, they won’t have already decided they aren’t good at math or science, and therefore won’t be good at coding. By starting to code early, they’ll be more likely to continue taking computer science courses as they move into middle school and high school.Take the time to show all of your students that coding role models can come from all sorts of backgrounds and any demographic.
2. Show them all the ways that coding relates to the real world
Coding is about bringing things to life, but it can still feel clinical and hypothetical to students just beginning to learn. Computer coding is the foundation for so many things that students already use.Discuss what you can create with coding: computer programs, smartphone apps, websites, social media programs, video games, and more.For older students, encourage them to try solving an actual problem in their community through the development of an app!
3. Integrate coding into your lessons
Give students fun, age-appropriate coding activities using your classroom technology like SMART Notebook. Visit SMART Exchange to take advantage of coding lessons already developed and posted by other teachers.Check out programs such as Tynker, Scratch and Alice, each of which is tailored to different age groups.
4. A little bit goes a long way: spend just one hour on coding
Teachers have many responsibilities in the classroom, and coding may not be at the top of their priority list or even part of their school curriculum. Code.org, a nonprofit, offers hundreds of one-hour online coding tutorials and activities for all age groups in 45 languages.
Students could spend their lunch hour or time after school trying out a tutorial and get a taste for coding.
Code.org also runs an annual Hour of Code event that aims to get students around the world to try coding for an hour. Encourage your students to take their learning and connections offline too, by finding local groups in your community. Many places will have organizations committed to helping youth and/or girls get into coding.