The Whys and Hows of Teaching Coding in Schools
Posted by MAXCases Admin on Dec 5, 2022

There’s no doubt that technology is here to stay and that every student in school today is already heavily immersed in this world. While using technology is already part of our day-to-day, what role should learning coding skills play in education and how is it best taught in our classrooms?

It’s not just about coding skills

Although a small percentage of your students may go on to become coders as adults, this is not a career path for everyone. As an educator, you know that each one of your students is unique. Those who have artistic talents or excel in literature or history may struggle with science, technology, math and computer subjects..
Nonetheless, teaching coding in the classroom is not only about learning that particular skill. In fact, it becomes an excellent vehicle to help students learn broader lessons that can be applied in all areas of life.

The process of learning coding:

Prompts Creativity. In an educational system that relies on students taking in a great deal of content in multiple subject areas, coding provides an opportunity for kids to actually create content. This offers a creative outlet for new ideas, innovations, and expression.
• Changes Point of View. Children and teens are naturally self-absorbed. They know what they want to do and how they want to do it. Coding forces students to turn the tables, so to speak, and think about how others might perceive their idea, game, or story. To be effective, they must ask themselves, Why would this be interesting or boring to someone else?
Provides a Place for Safe Failure. An important lesson that all students need to learn is that their efforts will sometimes result in failure – and that’s ok! In fact, it’s even a good thing! Coding allows students to try many different ideas and ways to execute those ideas. Failure is inevitable, allowing kids to develop tenacity and perseverance.
Reinforces Math Skills. While some students don’t enjoy math, they may like coding, which often reinforces those important basic skills in a way that seems more useful than typical math assignments.
Encourages Critical Thinking. When the aforementioned failure occurs, students must think through what happened and how the problem can be solved. This promotes critical thinking and problem solving – critical skills to have in life and in any career.
Prepares Them for the Future. Although not every student will pursue a job in computer coding, many will need to understand and use coding in some aspect of their future work. For example, business or marketing analysts may need to understand coding to better interpret data, engineers may use programming to research or test concepts, and graphic designers may use computer-aided design to create user experiences.
Fosters Teamwork. With the right projects, coding can be a vehicle for learning collaboration and teamwork with other students. For example, students can play created games, test one another’s projects, or work together on a coding presentation. Each child will bring unique thoughts and ideas to the table, contributing in a special way to each coding project.

Tap into a host of free online resources

Although some of you may love coding either professionally or personally, you don’t need to be a coding expert to bring some basic skills into your classroom. A wealth of free resources exist online to help you introduce your students, regardless of age, to coding skills and opportunities.

Amazon Future Engineer. This program has been designed to provide computer science education to underserved and underrepresented communities. Schools can access career talks led by Amazon tech professionals, and 100,000 students in Title 1 schools are eligible to access CoderZ’s virtual robotics learning modules. This platform offers free coding lessons through interactive online gaming. Students can master 250 free challenges to cover the basics of coding, all geared at helping a monkey obtain bananas through a series coding tasks.
Scratch. As the world’s largest free coding community for kids, Scratch allows students to program interactive stories, games, and animations. Once they are created, they can be shared in an online community. Designed for pre-teens through adults, this platform offers four coding levels. Interactive coding practice uses JavaScript and a graphic monster that asks questions and provides step-by-step guidance.
Blockly Games. A simple way to introduce coding, this platform offers eight challenges where students must drag and drop blocks of code to create puzzles, mazes, music, and more. The students are allowed to run their programs at any phase so they can easily see how the coding affects the performance. Known for its intuitive search engine, this platform allows users to look for relevant courses from around the globe and offers lengthy online tutorials. Interactive teaching methods help students build websites and games introducing students to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
Khan Academy. As an established e-learning platform, Khan Academy offers free computer science courses for students aged 12 and up. Topics include internet 101, cryptography, programming theory, and coding lessons.

Not Just the Three Rs

Our world today is getting so technologically sophisticated that coding skills may very well be added to the foundational reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic of education. Students who receive instruction on computer coding in the classroom will develop another basic skill that can be used to build upon as they learn and grow.

Incorporating coding skills into your lesson plan can not only present a potential future career path for some students, it can help prepare all students for today’s world of technology while also serving as a way to bring out their potential in many seemingly unrelated areas.

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