Drs. Megan Nickels and Laurie O. Campbell are Assistant Professors of STEM Education in the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida.
The push to expose today’s students to computer science activities has quickly become a global priority, with high visibility events, such as the Hour of Code (this year: December 3–9, 2018), reaching nearly 400 million students since its 2013 launch.
In addition to the many responsibilities you face as a new teacher, you are now expected to facilitate a subject for which you may have had little experience. Very likely, you may wonder: How can I plan to successfully implement computer science activities in my classroom?
The easiest entry into teaching computer science is to host an Hour of Code event. The Hour of Code is an annual event held each December during Computer Science Education Week that invites students of all ages to learn the basics of computer science through highly engaging tutorials on an array of themes such as Angry Birds, Star Wars, and Disney’s Moana. During the one-hour event, your students will use computers, tablets, or other devices to complete the tutorials using Blockly, the drag-and-drop programming language (see Figure 1).
Begin planning for your Hour of Code event by trying a tutorial yourself. Visit the Disney-sponsored Hour of Code to try a tutorial. Once you have the opportunity to try one or more tutorials, you can decide which tutorial will best motivate and engage students during your event. With your chosen tutorial in mind, follow these steps to ensure a successful Hour of Code event.
- Plan the learning configuration that will meet the needs of your students.
*Tip- Groups of 2–3 work well for young children in grades K–5. Older students are more successful with 1–1 technology.
- Decide what devices your students will use and make arrangements to have them available during your event.
- Schedule a specific time for your event and let students know that they are part of a global initiative to learn how to code their world.
- Garner excitement by introducing famous coders like supermodel, Karlie Kloss, or NBA basketball player Chris Bosh through Hour of Code videos.
- Finally, give the students an opportunity to discover drag-and-drop coding at your first Hour of Code event!
- Once the students have completed the tutorial, debrief with them about their experience and introduce them to more advanced coding tutorials at code.org or other websites such as Scratch and Code Avengers.
- Provide children with information or explanation about the programming blocks or procedures specific to the task. Use phrases such as You can expect … You will see …
- Provide an advanced organizer for students who may have trouble remembering or sequencing programming blocks.
- Provide strategy cues for the end of tutorial challenges.
Nickels, M. (2016, June 27). How do we prepare teachers to teach coding? Retrieved from http://gettingsmart.com/2016/06/prepare-teachers-teach-coding/