How I Use It
I used Code.org to participate in Hour of Code this year. My 4th graders absolutely loved creating snowflakes with Elsa and Anna and several of them have continued practicing coding/programming at home after the experience. Before getting students started on the program we talked about how coding/programming is like giving specific directions for something to do. I had a student volunteer be my human "robot" and gave her specific directions to get her to the door to the computer lab. In that way I introduced students to the kind of thinking they would need to use to participate... very directional and specific. While some students did get frustrated, many of them were able to work through even the more challenging exercises with a bit of support. My principal came to watch this lesson and was thrilled for the kids to be exposed to this kind of learning!
I think Code.org is an excellent gateway to coding and computer programming. I have used it since my 4th grade Hour of Code lesson to introduce programming to 8th graders prior to a robotics unit and they loved it too. I do think it's important to introduce the kind of thinking students will need to use to complete the exercises. I also think it's helpful to talk about problem solving with the class before they get started so they have it in their heads that it is ok to make mistakes while using this program... Part of the beauty of the exercises is that you can keep making adjustments and trying things again.