KIPP New Jersey How to teaching coding in your classroom

How you can add computer science to your education curriculum next year

A KIPP BOLD fifth grader works on his computer.

Do you remember when President Obama became the first US President to write a line of code? Computer science is becoming a huge part of what it means to be a 21st Century learner.

And you don’t need to be a computer science teacher to teach your kids how to use code to problem solve. Here are three ways you can work on adding this to your curriculum next year.

Take advantage of free software

With so many free programs out there, there’s no reason to let costs stop you. If you have access to computers, iPads, other tablets or Chromebooks, coding is within your reach.

Check out this list of so many programs, most of them free. Additionally, code.org and EdSurge both offer guides for teachers to get you started.

Root coding in problem-solving

“Introductory exposure to coding in these environments is easy, hugely gratifying, and motivating”, Shuchi Grover writes in Edsurge. “But how deeply do these children engage in computational thinking? The answer is, it depends.”

Coding is the beginning, not the end. It’s the means of teaching a group of computational thinking skills that will actually help our kids in the 21st Century. How do you do that? By carefully planning lessons around coding. Just like 3D printing, it’s about problem-solving and reaching for an objective, more than it is about a particular means to that end.

Grover goes on, saying “while children comfortably learn to modify ready-made pieces of code as a starting point, they struggle when they must progress to tracing unfamiliar code, creating their own algorithmic programs, or debugging.”

Look for programs that teach learning to code with problem-solving.

If you don’t have enough computers for everyone

Even if you don’t have enough computers for every student, you can still work computer science into your curriculum. While the easiest way to do this might be through centers, you’ll still need to get everyone up to speed on the basics before you can even roll something like this out and assume some student independence.

Check out CS Unplugged, a site devoted to teaching computer science without computers. They have entire lessons you can download and print, and they’re available for FREE under a creative commons license.

Further reading

Yeah, I know, this sounds like a lot. It probably is. But doing computer science right is important. Since it’s summer, here are some books you can read (hopefully by a pool or beach somewhere) to help get you started.

If you’re looking for some short form reading, here’s a list of helpful blog posts I ran across researching this post. Hopefully, they’ll help you too! If you’ve tried to implement a CS curriculum in your class and you have pro tips for the rest of us, please leave us a comment below!

Resources:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/learning-to-code-learning-to-learn-gerard-dawson

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teach-kids-coding-resources-parents-matt-davis

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-08-6-summer-reads-that-will-teach-you-and-your-students-how-to-code

https://code.org/educate

http://readwrite.com/2013/05/31/programming-core-skill-21st-century/

https://www.edsurge.com/research/guides/teaching-kids-to-code

http://csunplugged.org/

 

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Michael Alderman

Marketing and Communications Specialist at KIPP New Jersey
Michael is the marketing and communications specialist at KIPP New Jersey. You can contact Michael on Twitter @malderman_.