How I Use It
When beginning to explain computer programming, I start with a very basic example using Made w/Code. Most students don't have any experience in the process at the elementary grades and they are excited to discover how they can program a simple activity. Most recently, I've been using the Code the Holidays page on the website with the students. This is their most recent (as of Dec 2014) activity where students can learn how fun and exciting writing code can be by creating code to light up a holiday tree in any US state or territory at The White House! The website takes them through the process step-by-step and gives them several options to customize their code. After only a few minutes (usually with my additional instruction, it takes about 20 minutes in total) they have fully functioning code that will program the holiday lights on a tree. There are additional projects (ranging from beginner to intermediate) with more to come. The students were very excited and enjoyed the entire lesson. It's a great means of introducing the topic and getting the students working on actual code.
This isn't your grandfather's code! Recently, STEM learning has been implemented at all grade levels and learning to code is a major part of the field. While boys have been historically been more involved in the field (primarily due to their interest in gaming) the industry is making a concerted effort to engage girls in learning how to code. There isn't anything particularly gender-specific about the process and I believe many girls will enjoy learning how to create code. This website is an excellent means of introducing the topic to the entire population and engage all the students with a fun activity. It also gives it a real world application as the code is actually responsible for lighting up a tree somewhere in the US. I love that the activities are updated and are interesting to the students. The resources on the site are also very helpful and can get a teacher started (even one who doesn't know much about code, like me!)