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Students Practice Programming With 'Hour of Code'

By guest blogger Liana Heitin

This post originally appeared on the Teaching Now blog. 

A new campaign for Computer Science Education Week is attempting to get 10 million K-12 students to spend an hour learning how to code.

According to Code.org, a nonprofit founded by Ali and Hadi Partovi and the event's sponsor, 90 percent of K-12 schools do not currently teach computer science. The "Hour of Code" aims to raise awareness about the importance of computer programming skills—and seemingly to make code-writing cool. A high-profile cast of characters has come out to support the campaign, including President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Ashton Kutcher, and Shakira. The pump-you-up PSA is below. 

The Code.org site has tutorials for drag-and-drop programming (for beginners as young as 6), Javascript, Python, and app-building, among other coding skills. Microsoft and Apple are offering in-person tutorials at their stores as well. 

I spent some time on the site's coding tutorials for beginners myself and have to say, I'd have no qualms about putting students on them for an hour. The video lessons are clear, well-scaffolded, and fun. And they could offer a good sense of which students might have talents in code-writing (though it looks like I'll be sticking to writing in English).

Code.org's website notes that part of its mission is to "increase the representation of women and students of color in the field of computer science." You'll see the video below does that quite well.

As a note, one of the (many) criticisms of the Common Core State Standards for math and the Next Generation Science Standards has been that they don't include computer science. So it's interesting to see some common-core cheerleaders (i.e., Obama and Gates) making a show of supporting this campaign.

 

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