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Coding

What is coding?

Coding helps students develop systematic reasoning, problem-solving, and communication skills

Coding, or computer programming, is giving a computer step-by-step commands to tell it what to do. This can include making websites, games and apps. Common coding languages include HTML and JavaScript.

Young learners and beginners can begin coding in the classroom using web based programmes – such as Scratch .  

  • No knowledge of actual coding is required
  • Users interlock colour-coded bricks to create interactive games and animations. 

Why teach coding?

Students who have mastered coding can construct, hypothesise, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions. 

Coding is an important and necessary future-focused literacy. It is included as part of the school curricula in many countries who recognise this.

Coding helps to create our digital world and as our world becomes more digital, coding is becoming more of an in-demand and employable skill.

In his 2012 Ted Talk Lets teach kids to code  Mitch Resnick outlines the benefits of teaching kids to code, so they can do more than just “read” new technologies – but also create them.

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Five reasons to teach coding
  1. Coding is a tool to improve educational equity.
  2. Coding offers inclusion.
  3. Coding can improve neuroplasticity.
  4. Coding improves Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) proficiencies.
  5. Coding is an important and necessary future-focused literacy.

Huerta, Edutopia

Callum and his teacher, Fraser Malins, explain how Scratch supports student learning with creativity, logical thinking, and problem solving at Halswell School.  

Scratch
Scratch allows users to program interactive stories, games, and animations and share these to a community. 

To find out more, ScratchEd  is an online community where you can ask questions and share stories and resources.

References

Balanskat, A. & Englehart, K., (2015). Computing our future. Computer programming and coding. Priorities, school curricula and intitiatives across EuropeEuropean Schoolnet.

Start small and allow students to drive the learning.

1. Get connected and communicate

Talk to your learners, and ask around your community for people with an interest or knowledge in coding. Let people know your intentions. You may be surprised by the new ideas and support you receive. For example, Code Club Aotearoa runs school coding clubs around the country with the support of volunteers in the community. Not all of the volunteers are teachers.

Ask for help

Talk to colleagues within your school, or as a part of a wider network. There are plenty of educators in the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) having discussions about coding , sharing ideas and resources.

2. Learn a little code

Teachers learning to code

Teachers learning to code a robot using interlocking colour-coded instructions.

To get started, explore resources and self-directed tutorials for both teachers and students.

  • TeacherTube offers a range of resources and video clips to support teachers learning to code
  • Codecademy is a web-based environment to start teaching students about about programming and the basic lessons are free.
  • Code School offers free basic level courses for older students and adults.

You can even start students coding without the need for digital devices!

CS Unplugged , a project by the CS Education Research Group at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, offers a free collection of fun, free learning activities that encourage computational thinking.

3. Make learning authentic

Allow students to explore problems and design different solutions. Coding By Design  begins with solving real problems for real people.

“Classrooms that celebrate the process of design and making, which includes overcoming challenges, produce students who start to believe they can solve any problem. Students learn to trust themselves as competent problem solvers who don’t need to be told what to do next. This stance can be a crucial change for children who are used to getting explicit directions every minute of every day.”

Martinez & Stager  (2014)

The Portal Unity Project from CORE Ministry Video on Vimeo.

Year 13 student, Daniel Cowpertwait describes his Portal Unity Project – a modification coded for the online game, Portal. He developed this along with three other students as part of the Impact Project at Albany Senior High School. The authentic context provided many opportunities for learning including specialised technical skill development, a deep understanding of copyright, and working successfully as part of a team. He has been supported in his learning by an expert via the Internet and a mentor. Daniel describes how the cross curricular nature of the project has opened his eyes to the way different disciplines can be combined into a career.

4. Play and have fun with coding

Engage students' curiousity and provide opportunities to explore, play and ‘tinker’ with code, so they are not just learning to code but coding to learn

Games are one of the best ways to foster a love for coding in kids. There are a vast array of online resources that incorporate learning how to code into gaming. These involve challenges and rewards that scaffold learning and teach fundamental skills.

More information »

Encourage girls to code

Women are under-represented in roles that involve creating technology.

  • Made with code  is a Google project started to inspire girls to contribute their voices to the field of technology.
  • Girls who code  works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.

5. Try one hour of code

You can start with just one hour of coding!

The Hour of Code website offers a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. A global, week long Hour of Code event takes place once a year. But teachers can host an Hour of Code event all year round.

Tutorials for the Hour of Code are available from Computer Science Education Week's Learn page: Quick Tips for Educators section .

More information »
References

Heggart, K., (2014). Coded for Success: The Benefits of Learning to Program. Edutopia

Martinez, S & Stager, G., (2014). The maker movement: A learning revolution . ISTE

Key resource

Coding in the classroom
An introductory course, to show teachers how to incorporate coding in cross–curricular activities.

Teaching kids programming
TKPJava Courseware for middle or high school teachers.

One Month: intro to coding
A 90 day program to help you learn the basics of coding.

Code.org
A non-profit organisation dedicated to expanding access to computer science.

Codecademy
Course specific that teach web developer skills, languages, and more.

Programming for Kids - How to Make Coding Fun
A free course for parents, teachers in schools who want to encourage programming skills in a fun way.

Code the future
Connect developers with educators to help students learn how to code

Code Avengers
Students build their own apps, games and websites as they learn.

Codecademy
Course specific that teach web developer skills, languages, and more.

Coding in Minecraft
Use blocks of code to take Steve or Alex on an adventure through this Minecraft world.

Khan Academy Programming Tutorials
Practice exercises, instructional videos on a range of topics for free.

Shake up learning
Lessons, games, and interactives designed to teach coding skills.

Scratch Number Line iPad Monthly
A YouTube clip in which Paul Hamilton explores numbers using scratch Jr App for iPad and coding.

Tynker.com
A creative computing platform for kids.

Code Combat
A community project that uses a game platform to make coding fun.

Swift playgrounds
Learn code on your iPad.

Robot Turtles
A board game that teaches the fundamentals of programming (3+).

Primo
The coding toy for girls and boys aged three and up.

Hopscotch
An iPad app with drag and drop blocks of code to create a program.

Code Monkey Island
An adventure board game that teaches kids how to use and master the fundamentals of computer science.

Wonder Workshop
Robot duo Dash and Dot guide kids through the world of coding and robotics.

Kodable
Curriculum related resources and activities that transition students from the use of symbols to written code.

Linkitz
A wearable toy for social play that teaches girls to code.

Made with code
A Google project started to inspire girls to contribute their voices to the field of technology.

Girls who code
Works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.

Daisy the dinosaur (iPad)
A free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen.

ScratchJr (iPad/Android)
Teachers young students important new skills as they program their own interactive stories and games.

Kodable Class (iPad)
Designed to teach computer science to elementary students aged 4-11.

Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues (iPad)
Program a robot puppy to solve the mystery of a missing project at the Tech Fair.

Move the Turtle (iPad)
Teaches children (ages 5+) the basics of programming.

Hopscotch (iPad)
Make games and publish them instantly for anyone to play.

Cargo–Bot (iPad)
A puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates.

Lightbot: Programming Puzzles (iPad/Android)
A puzzle game that uses game mechanics that are firmly rooted in programming concepts.

Key reading

Cracking the code – schools get kids programming
New Zealand Herald education reporter Nicholas Jones outlines how coding as the "new literacy" is fast becoming the key to good jobs.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bringing Coding Into the Classroom
Edsurge: An article outlining how to get started with coding in the classroom with a helpful table of coding resources.

Coding in the Classroom
Edutopia: Links to useful resources, strategies, activities, games and apps to teach kids programming skills and computer science concepts.

Coding in the classroom: 16 Top resources
Edudemic: Provides links to tools to help teach coding in the classroom as well as some facts about coding. 

The 10 best ways to teach kids how to code
Dailytekk: Provides links to Apps, games, and robots that teach programming.

Coded for Success: The Benefits of Learning to Program
Edutopia: This article outlines why teachers should incorporate coding into the learning program.

Teaching Kids to Code
Edsurge: A guide to coding in the classroom from a range of perspectives.

Coding By Design: A Design-First Approach
Edutopia: A design thinking approach to creating an app, then proceed to a prototype, multiple iterations based on real feedback, and finally a top-down approach to solving the coding problems and puzzles inherent in app development.

Fractus learning
Links to articles and resources to support teaching and learning with coding.

10 reasons to teach coding
A sketch note outlining different reasons to teach coding.

e-Learning community discussions

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