Robots, Yetis, and Monkeys: 3 Classroom Coding Resources You May Have Missed
As we dive deeper into the digital age, coding is becoming more and more prevalent in our schools. In fact, some districts have begun to make coding and computer science part of their core curriculum for graduation. So how can we better prepare our students at a young age for this digital landscape? How can we bridge the divide between male and female computer engineers and help young girls see computer science as a viable and interesting path? One strategy is to teach coding earlier, to everyone.
There are many websites and apps to help kids learn to code. Some offer activities that get kids actually coding while others are more basic - simply training them to think in programming syntax. I've included a list below of great coding resources to explore, but in this post I want to highlight three that I don't often see mentioned in lists like these... and pose a challenge to you and your students to win some robots.
Sometimes coding is hard for students to grasp because they can't see the immediate feedback of changes in their code. An adorable robotic duo named Dash and Dot make coding tangible for students of all ages. Using any tablet, students can code movements, sounds and lights for these robots to interact with each other, the environment around them or even build Legos and play music! The apps are free, all you need to purchase are the robots. Our students are obsessed with Dash and Dot - they love to see their coding acted out before their eyes. Check out Wonder Workshop's blog to read more stories about Dash and Dot in the wild and scroll down for a chance to win a free Dash and Dot for your classroom :)!
Made with Code is a project from Google to inspire more young girls to embrace and enjoy coding. From their website:
We started Made with Code because even though increasingly more aspects in our lives are powered by technology, women aren't represented in the companies, labs, research, creative arts, design, organizations, and boardrooms that make technology happen. If girls are inspired to see that Computer Science can make the world more beautiful, more usable, more safe, more kind, more innovative, more healthy, and more funny, then hopefully they will begin to contribute their essential voices. As parents, teachers, organizations, and companies we're making it our mission to creatively engage girls with code. Today, less than 1% of girls are majoring in CS. Tomorrow, we can make that number go up.
The website is not only full of amazing code-based games and activities (my favorite is the Yeti!), but also inspiring stories from real girls and women who made an impact using code. There is even a search tool to find coding events in your area. Check out their website and follow @madewithcode on Twitter.
Code Monkey is a full-fledged curriculum for grades 4 and up to teach kids actual code. Not just block code as many other websites use, but actual typed code. The developers chose CoffeeScript as the coding langage to teach because, according to their site, it has "a friendly syntax, which resembles the way we write in English, compared to other programming languages". I love how my students are learning to type code, and are understanding the logic behind the code so much better than before. Teachers with whom I've shared this tool rave about how much simpler the program is for their kids to utilize and how much more logical the lessons are as compared to other resources.
VIDEO CHALLENGE - win a robot for your class!
I challenge all of YOU to get your kids together and create a creative and fun video about coding and computer science. It can be a story from your classroom, a music video, a personal inspiration, a public service announcement... anything! For some fun examples of student-made videos, check out the first three in this playlist. The videos will be viewed by my students and the top selection will win a Dash and Dot kit! I'd like to thank to Wonder Workshop for providing the kit, noting that while they are supporting this contest with the prize, it is being run by my students and winners will be selected by the kids :).
How to enter (the rules)
- Create a video that is 2 minutes or less (longer videos will not be accepted)
- Get permission from parents for all students under the age of 18 to post video to YouTube
- Post video to YouTube and include #makewonder in your title
- Fill out this form to submit the video
- Optional: Paste a link to your video in the comments below
- Deadline for submission: Tuesday, May 19th
[Editor's note: This contest has no affiliation with Education Week Teacher or its publisher, Editorial Projects in Education.]
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