Intro to Programming
Show the students the intro video at this site. Everyone from Shakira to Austin Kutcher talks about how easy it is to start coding. The video shows children from around the world working on the Hour of Code. It gets the kids curious about this process and they wonder if its as easy as they make it sound. The video takes the scary, nerdy attitude away.
2 Direct Instruction
The video explains the basic interface of the program, and the students can dive right in and start completing the twenty steps in the Hour of Code. The program is centered around linking blocks together to create a script. The first steps are very easy, but as the blocks get more complicated, there are videos that pop up that explain the new concepts.
The teacher has previously gone through the Hour of Code themselves, so they look like a professional. The teacher also sets up a code for the students to easily register themselves in the class. There's no need for an email or too much personal information. The teacher can then monitor the students progress through the twenty steps. It even tells you if the student had difficulty with a certain area.
The Hour of Code is only the first twenty steps, students can go much further in this website to discover more advanced programming. The site has prompts for students who are having difficulties, so they don't run to the teacher when they first encounter a problem. When the script works the smiles on their faces are genuine, they didn't think they could do this.
3 Guided Practice
After learning the basics at code.org, it's time to move onto differentiated lessons. Scratch is where students can create their own programs. Scratch has the same block interface that code does, so the transition is easy.
The teacher starts by guiding the class through creating a simple game program for the new blocks that are now available to them. Each block category is clearly defined so explanations are usually not necessary. If they follow the script, they can create their first game in one class period. If the game doesn't work, they can keep troubleshooting until they find the error.
The many resources at the site are helpful to teachers to find ideas suited to their class. I like making games with my students, they love it.
4 Independent Practice
Once they feel a little more comfortable with the program, they can start branching out on their own. They look at the gallery and see other student's work to inspire them. There are hundreds of scripts already online, so there is a never ending supply of inspiration.
Students can explore the gallery to find a game or program that inspires them, and modify it to their individual style. Students can also start from Scratch(!) to create their own scripts.
Finally, students can show off to their family and friends by adding their work to the gallery or share their scripts with anyone they want.
5 Further Discovery
Now that the students are comfortable in Scratch, they can move forward independently. Google has created programming curriculum that uses the Scratch website. Students can pick the unit that interests them, and start watching videos with instructions to follow.
The teacher checks the work and awards the students with stickers in their passport when the complete the series of tasks.