Everyone who has tried it loves Hour of Code, the annual push to get coding instruction into schools. But it will take more than coding once a year to prepare students for the ever-increasing number of computer programming jobs, which pay well and can transform lives. We already have too few U.S. workers for the computer programming jobs we have, and by 2020 it is expected that there will be a U.S. worker deficit of one million!
In their edWeb.net seminar, “Beyond the Hour of Code: Implementation for All” presenters Bryan L. Miller of Wonder Workshop and Kiki Prottsman of Code.org advised integrating coding into daily instruction for all.
To become proficient, students need not only continual opportunities to use coding in school, but also instruction on coding languages that are used in the professional world.
k12cs.org offers a K-12 computer science framework which has wide support from many organizations and which is already being implemented by a few states. The framework states the learning objectives for each grade and advises having cross-curricular activities, but does not specify the curriculum. So there is a way to go. Getting the buy-in of all stakeholders is a must.
To raise political support for coding in the classroom, Prottsman and Miller suggested inviting an administrator, school board member, government official, or public figure such as a DJ into your classroom to watch your students demonstrate their coding skills. Another idea is to create an after-school club for coding. CS First, created by Google, offers free materials for after-school clubs. During these visits, students could show off games they have created or robots they have programmed. Robots are especially good for demonstrations and have the advantage of being tactile, which students love. Many robotics kits come with classroom lessons. If you pursue robotics, see the independent review of robotics products, “10 Best Educational Robot Kits” on RoboticsTrends.com.
If you need funding, Miller said that makewonder.com has set up a Grants and Funding page to help teachers find money. In addition, teacher and SpecialEdTech.net contributor Carmen Watts Clayton also gave some tips on raising funds in her article “Confessions of a special education teacher grant-writer.” You can also involve your local community — for example, have a fund-raiser at a pizza place, where you set up laptops and invite the public to see what students are doing.
What’s most important is that we continue to promote coding in the classroom. Coding elevates student thought because it requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity. It also requires years of repeated practice to become proficient. To serve our students well, we must provide opportunities for this repeated practice.