How I Use It
I have completed both the Hour of Code and the entire 20 Hours of Code with 5th graders. I have also started 1st and 2nd graders on the site as more of an independent challenge. I highly recommend completing which ever version you will be teaching BEFORE introducing it to a class. There are some lessons in the 20 Hours that are challenging. Some kids will click with it really well and fly through the lessons, but everyone will get stuck and need help at some point.
I organized it as an independent learning project. I did a whole class overview of the website, navigation, and the first few tutorials as a group the first day. Then I set them loose to work at their own pace. I walked around and helped when a student got stuck, offered advice on a different way to approach a lesson, and celebrated the victories when needed. There will be lots of celebrating! It works out well because it can be accessed from any computer, and every student has their own log in. Nothing needs to be downloaded. We primarily worked on it at the computer lab, but there were kids that would finish an assignment early and ask to log in using the classroom computer as well. There are YouTube tutorials that go along with the lesson that may cause an issue for some networks web filtering. I sent an email to our IT director explaining what we were working on and they gladly changed the filter configurations so we could view the videos along with the tutorials. However, some of the students who clicked well with it found they didn't even want to watch the videos, they received enough information from the tutorials.
I love this program for many reason. It is a great introduction to programming concepts. They may not walk away from it knowing any languages, but they will definitely get the idea behind programming. It pulls in geometry and math skills by using knowledge of angles and shapes. It worked out very well as an end of the year project because I introduced them to Khan Academy and Scratch once they completed the 20 Hours of Code to continue working over the summer if they wanted. In a class of 28 students, the interest level broke down like this: 8 boys and 2 girls became obsessed, they worked on it at home and in between things as often as they could. Two of those eight wrote me thank you notes at the end of the program stating they now wanted to pursue Computer Programming as a career but had never been exposed to it before Code.Org. About 12 boys and girls really liked it, and liked the challenge it presented them. Then there were 4 girls and 2 boys that didn't get into it. They liked the introductory lessons and tutorials, and the more artistic based lessons, but once they got more complicated they lost interest. An easy fix was to pair up the first group of kids with the last group of kids, they were able to assist them when they got stuck as well as their excitement when they "beat" a tutorial became contagious. I plan on doing 20 Hours of Code again this year and adding 4th graders.