The countdown is on. How many more days? When I was teaching, you could always tell how my year had been by the number of days left when I began my official countdown. Good year? Usually around 35 days. Bad year? Well, let’s say one year I started in triple digits. No matter when I started counting, coding made those last several weeks run much more smoothly.
As crazy as this time of year always was, there were things about it that made it time that I learned to enjoy. After the testing was over, I always used those last weeks as a time to try things I never had a chance to do until then. One of them was coding, and it was a favorite activity for most of the kids. If you are looking for something to reduce the chaos and keep the students in your class learning for the last few weeks of school, try coding.
What is coding?
Coding is the computer language that makes every type of technology possible. All software, apps, and websites have a code that determines what the technology will look like and what when the user inputs something. It’s like a recipe because all the parts go together to create a final product, and it’s much more interesting than the parts separately.
Computers run on something called binary code. It’s fundamentally a series of zeroes and ones. The amount of 0s and 1s needed to run a program is huge and way too difficult for a person to handle easily and efficiently. Coding languages were developed to act as a bridge between the human programmer and the computer. There are many different coding languages, and in many ways, learning to code is like learning a foreign language.
Why should our kids code?
- First of all, kids who code have a better understanding of how the technology they use on a daily basis works. They won’t just be using the technology; they will be creating it!
- Coding is a way to incorporate 21st-century skills into your curriculum. Kids who learn to code can make their creative ideas become a reality and communicate those ideas. The students use critical thinking skills when determining the series of code needed to get the desired response.
- Many people have personal websites today, and that number is only going to rise in the future. If the kids have a knowledge of code, it will give them more control over the appearance and functionality of their personal web page.
- When they get older, it seems more likely that having at least a basic knowledge of code will be necessary for many types of employment. And, those jobs are going to be much better paying than the jobs that do not require coding. Therefore, it could be the most important job skill we can teach our students.
How can I teach coding?
Unless you are a former IT specialist who left that job for a cushy teaching job, you probably don’t have much knowledge of coding and programming languages. The good news is you don’t have to learn code first for your students to learn it. There are many excellent sites online that the kids can use. You can learn along with them.
The site that I presented to my kids first was www.code.org. They introduce the concept of coding in their “Hour of Code” In fact, they have 97 different themes under their “grades 2-5” filter. Kids are sure to find something that catches their interest. Younger students and even non-readers have many choices of themes to make learning coding language entertaining and exciting.
So during the next several weeks, when you know that your students only hear the Peanuts Teacher voice every time you open your mouth, give coding a try. They will be thinking critically and problem-solving, as well as preparing for their future. They might even learn something, even if they don’t notice.
You may even find yourself sucked into the fun. I love coding!
If you try any of these sites, let me know how they worked out. Is there anything else you need for you to use it effectively? I’d love to help!