As a teacher we already have so much on our plate so adding another thing can seem beyond daunting. Follow along for all the tips and tricks to launch a successful Hour of Code.
First, let’s start off with what exactly is the Hour of Code? The Hour of Code, first launched in 2013 by Code.org. The idea was to give students a taste of what programming could be. Each activity was meant to be fun and engaging. Showing that code didn’t have to be boring. It was an intimidating way for everyone to try out a bit of programming. According to Code.org, there have now been over 100 million students worldwide who have gotten a chance to participate in the Hour of Code in some way.
As we have seen in recent years and with the pandemic, that technology has only evolved at a faster rate. 92% of future jobs will need digital skills, and 45% of jobs will require workers who can configure and work confidently with digital systems and technology. Computer science encompasses so many skills that will transfer beyond the screen. So now is as good of a time as ever to try out the Hour of Code.
Now let’s get to what we are all really wanting to know. How do I launch an Hour of Code?
Steps for “First Timers”-
Step 1: Try It Yourself. The first step is taking the first step. Before launching it with your students, go to hourofcode.org. From there, click on “try it”. From there you will see that there are hundreds of activities to choose from. Start with something simple by clicking on the beginner tab on the Hour of Code website. If it’s your first time, click on one for the younger ages. Remember that the Hour of Code is meant to be intimidating not only for you but for your students. Now select an activity and give it a shot. After playing the first one, try to do a few more. Before you know it, you’ll have been playing for as long as you spent surfing TikTok. You know the ones where it’s no longer morning but late afternoon, and you don’t know how you are now learning all there is about pandas? The Hour of Code will get you hooked.
Step 2: Bookmark the site. Luckily, hourofcode.org is a pretty easy site to navigate through. But make it easier for both your students and yourself to spend the least amount of time searching as possible and the most amount of time trying out the Hour of Code.
Step 3: Set up devices: A good rule of thumb is to spread the devices out and to make sure that the students have their own headphones. Most of the hour of code activities have fun noise, animations and sounds.
Step 4: Test the site out as a student. This is a really, really important step. Many times when the students go to access the Hour of Code site, the students may not have access, so be sure to test it out and request access for your students. There will still be a few that will be blocked, but this will guarantee that your students will have access to most of the mini courses.
Step 5: Have fun. Have as much fun as possible. Once your students start playing your students will be engaged and some might even be brave enough to begin collaborating with others to solve the games and challenges.
Step 6: Repeat.
Did you know that the Hour of Code is not just a one time of year thing. But the site and activities are active all year round. So the hour of code is not limited to just one time of year. You can play these courses all year round.
Steps for Intermediate to Advance
Step 1: Form a team. The hour of code is one of the best ways to create collaboration amongst different grade levels and content. Now that you have done the hour of code before, you know how fun and engaging it is for students but more importantly the importance and skillet that coding can provide. Try to get the whole school involved and recruit others to help you run stations. Code.org and Csuplugged have many offline activities that will get students moving or even doing a bit of art. Computational thinking and computer skills transfer well beyond the screen.
Step 2: Invite parents. The quickest way to create a buy in for the need for computer science is to involve parents. Inviting parents in gives them an opportunity to engage with students, but also to see the benefits that learning to code brings to students and that the skillet transfers to any content area.
Step 3: Make a plan. It is best to be as organized as possible. Bring your team together to come up with a schedule that works for your students and teachers schedules.
Tip #1- Get as many students coding on that day as possible. You can always pair students up for shared programming on the day of code. Think 1st grade with 5th grade, 3rd and Kindergarten and so on. If you start early enough, teachers will be willing to modify their day to day in order to get every student the ability to go and have the Hour of Code experience.
Tip #2- Prepare ahead of time. Prep things like webpages for access, and pre-print certificates, and maybe even put a call to parents for a guest speaker. CS is everywhere and the Hour of Code is a great way to expose your students. (Parents are great helpers and resources)
Tip #3- Have a quick session before the activities begin for all volunteers. This should be a quick tutorial for the person leading the activity to ensure that the activity is running how you deem
Step 4: Test Everything. Something is always going to go wrong on the day of the event that you had planned, but testing everything beforehand ensures success.
Step 5: Promote your event. This is a great way to not only create school buy is but also local buy in from surrounding industries. Technology is exploding into every work place across the world, so show the communities what you are doing. You never know what unlikely contributor will pop out of the woodwork.
Tip #1: Hire a student photographer from the local high school or college to come and take photos for you. Making a slideshow, TikTok video, reel or YouTube video showcasing your event or even a training video on how others can host their own event will go far and help to expand your social network.
Have fun and remember to write code. Catch bananas, and spread the word.