How I Use It
The hour of code event inspired me to create an entire project based on coding. The problem was, I knew nothing about coding or programming! Code.org was a wonderful introduction to coding and programming not only for me as a teacher, but for my students as well. I used this website as an introduction to my programming unit.
There were a few reasons I began my unit with this site:
Real life applications- There are videos from people who work in the industry. These videos interview programmers from different entertainment companies to explain why they became programmers and what they do every day in their jobs. These videos were inspiring to my students because they knew they were working with something that could become a future career path.
Well made and simple to use- As I said before, code.org was my first exposure to any sort of programming. It took very little time for me to review the different hour of code activities because they were so comprehensive. Once you chose which character or game you want to work on, the site guides the user through the process step by step. It also provides feedback if you don't get the code right the first time. All of my sixth grade students were able to use this website independently, with some support as I circled the room. Once I gave a mini lesson as an introduction and guided the students where to go, they were able to begin working on their own.
Something for everyone- As a part of planning for using this site, the teacher should look through the different activities based not only on the theme or characters that are used, but also by the tasks involved. Some activities are simpler than others. It is a great way to differentiate, because you can assign simpler or more advanced tasks to different students.
Flexible- You can just begin with the hour of code activities that are very self guided if you aren't comfortable with jumping into a full blown programming unit. These activities could be completed in one class period. If you are interested in building a programming unit, you can begin to incorporate the other resources and lessons available.
Overall, I think that code.org is a wonderfully designed website with activities that were well thought out before they were created. While I began with the hour of code section of this site, there are a vast amount of resources available. These resources do require more preparation on the teacher's behalf before implementing them in the classroom. As a teacher who is in the second year of teaching a programming unit, I have found the module lesson plans to be a wonderful resource to begin with. For example, the Project Guts unit begins with a module on computer modeling and simulation. I used parts of this lesson to begin my own programming project. This website is so easy to navigate, it does save time because resources and activities are very easy to find.
I always thought of programming as such a complex process, I didn't want to attempt to teach it. I also thought it might be too difficult for many of my students. I found that I was wrong in my assumption after looking through the resources on this site, there are many ways to incorporate coding into your classroom by slowly building up from the thought process behind coding before jumping into actual programming. My students loved all of the activities I used from this site and many continued to work with coding after my class ended!
If you aren't sure how coding could be incorporated into your classroom, I suggest checking out code.org, it will be worth your time and the kids will love it!