How I Use It
We began using Code.org three years ago as part of The Hour of Code movement. I was so impressed by how easy it was to learn from a teaching point of view. I was not particularly adept or knowledgeable about coding or programming, and the website made it not only simple, but fun to set up. I was soon playing activities and trying coding on my own and loving how I progressed through the levels.
When I introduced it to students, I used a whole-group method. I definitely found it beneficial to demonstrate how to use any of the coding lessons/activities. As I modeled (on a Smart Board) how to complete levels, I also used common language with the students as I showed the interface and the tools. As the demonstration progressed, I had students suggest how to write the code as I moved away from the Smart Board and let them take my place. This gradual release of responsibility left students incredibly anxious to go back to their own computers and begin coding!
There are just so many games and ways to engage your students using the code.org site. There are coding activities that are tied to timely movies and themes such as Frozen, Star Wars, and Minecraft. Before you even begin, students will be finding activities that they're anxious to explore. Likewise, there are activities for very young children that deal with understanding simple directional movements and logic. There are also as well as advanced courses in programming languages like java and Python for older or advanced students (or even adults!)
The code.org website has so many levels at which you can start your students. Before you introduce it, look through the different levels, games, and activities to play and to experiment with the levels that would make comfortable starting points for your own students.
Code.org truly has something for everyone. The multitude of choices, levels, games, activities, and experiences makes it an attractive and systematic way for any learner to begin exploring computer programming. The only criticism I can share is one that was offered by some of my students who were not strong readers: they wished that there were audio directions, particularly in coding games like Frozen, Star Wars, and Minecraft so that they didn't need to rely on reading skills to interact with the coding activities.
One additional note: The code.org organization has trainers that are available to provide instruction on how to use code.org resources. These trainings are free and can often be scheduled for your school/faculty at your convenience. An additional benefit of these sessions is that they provide extra free resources and teach educators how to use some 'unplugged' activities that teach the principles and vocabulary of coding. It is definitely worth taking advantage of this training.