The following is a guest blog written by a CodeMonkey Teacher Ambassador
One of my favorite things to see and hear is the satisfaction my students have when they successfully complete a challenge in Code.org. No matter if they are a beginner, intermediate or advanced coder, Code.org has challenges at all levels. I teach grades 6-8 in a public middle school and use the CS Fundamentals course with all grade levels. My students love to help the angry birds reach the pig, code and hold a dance party, build houses and plant crops in Minecraft, create art with code and so much more. Not only can students work through puzzles, they can work in the Sprite Lab, App Lab and Game Lab to create their own programs and share them out in the Code.org community. And they love to receive their certificates of completion when done with a course!
Code.org has curricular offerings for elementary through high school. They also offer workshops for teachers to learn how to utilize the coding platform across the United States. I am lucky enough to be a Code.org CS Fundamentals Facilitator in the state of Illinois and love the enthusiasm and energy I get from teachers who take the workshops as they create a plan for implementation as part of the workshop, so they can immediately bring it back to their students. The curriculum is comprised of unplugged (not using a computer) and plugged lessons. Every unplugged lesson introduces the concepts that will then be practiced in the plugged puzzles online. This makes it possible for coding to be taught to all students even if technology is not available. In the United States, 90% of parents want their children to study computer science, yet 40% of schools teach it. Computer Science is foundational. The reality is that technology affects every field of commerce:
- In healthcare – computing is part of operating rooms every day and it is enabling breakthroughs like contact lenses that detect levels of insulin for people with diabetes
- In space – we are depending on a generation of robots to explore where humans cannot now
- In our homes – we are automating everyday things like our heating systems
- On our roads – we depend on navigation systems to get us home and now we are experimenting with bringing self-driving cars into our everyday lives
- In entertainment – blockbuster movies depend on computer science to bring new characters to life and provide us new completely animated worlds
- And every single day this trend is growing across every single industry
Not only does Code.org teach students how to code, it also teaches them about the impact of Computer Science in the world around us and introduces them to careers of the future. Students are also introduced to the life skills of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication that will allow them to be college, career and life ready. Code.org promotes the use of paired programming with the roles of Driver and Navigator. This allows for collaboration and communication to solve the problems that need to be solved via code. The role of Driver is to manipulates the keyboard and the mouse and the Navigator keeps track of the big picture.
Code.org is also super teacher friendly. The teacher dashboard connects with the full course catalog where you can view the courses and the lesson plans. From there you can create sections for your classes, assign your courses, find vocabulary for each course and even access a teacher’s forum. You also monitor students’ progress and it links to Google Classroom, so if you are a GAFE school, it’ll link your students. If not, there are several other ways to add your students; picture logins, word logins or personal logins.
Code.org has courses for pre-readers though High School along with many Hour of Code tutorials. The elementary courses teach the following coding skills; Digital Citizenship, Sequencing, Loops, For Loops, Nested Loops, conditionals, Use of Data and functions. The middle school courses include problem solving and computing, web development, animations and gaming, the design process, data and society and physical computing. In our high school, we use the AP Computer Science course. In fall 2016, the College Board launched its newest AP® course, AP Computer Science Principles. The course introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. The AP Program designed AP Computer Science Principles with the goal of creating leaders in computer science fields and attracting and engaging those who are traditionally underrepresented with essential computing tools and multidisciplinary opportunities. So, as you can see there is something for everyone and your students will be totally engaged and have fun while learning!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Debra Segiet is a Creative Technology/Project Lead the Way teacher from Elmhurst, IL. She is a CodeMonkey Ambassador, a Code.org CS Fundamentals Facilitator and an ozobot Certified Educator. You can follow her at @dsegiet.