Here is a bulletin board that was used in Canada. It’s a help wanted add, can you read it?
Yeah, me neither. People who can read that billboard are qualified for a job with serious earning potential. We teach kids a foreign language in school to increase their earning potential, but forget about coding. Students who can code are building the ability to create websites and apps, which are now the main way we receive information. Some people compare this to the scribes of Ancient Egypt who were the only ones who could read or write and thereby controlled the flow of information. Knowing how to program a computer is now key to increasing the flow of information. In addition to being able to get a job helping others to get their information out there, coders can create websites about their own personal interests and not be dependent on others to help them. They can be the leaders of any field they choose to go into.
To help my sons become coders, we have been attending coding classes for kids at the library. They are using games to inspire kids to appreciate coding and to build a base in their understanding. These games would make a great technology center. They would be a great reason for a trip to the computer lab. And they would also be a great thing to send home instead of homework once in awhile. “Tonight for homework, I want you to work on coding for 30 minutes.” Stretch the mind, encourage a skill, and the kids think you’re giving them a break!
This is a list of a few of the games you could use to teach coding directly:
Studio Code – This website allows students to play games using characters they love, but in order to play the game, you have to use code. Additionally, there are full on courses available, with lesson plans for the teacher as well!
Scratch – Created by the MIT Media Lab, this program can be used to create games. It must be downloaded to your computer, but it is a free download. While Scratch is great to “play” with, it’s not a game. It’s a real programming language that is simple enough for children to use.
Code Combat – Choose a real programming language (Java Script, Python, Lua, etc) and play by typing in the code needed to do what it is your character needs to do next. The first level is completely free, and then beyond that you pay per student for additional levels. My sons love this site because it reminds them of the computer games they like to play. I like this site because it shows them real lines of code and makes them pay attention to the details.
For other websites to use in your classroom, check out my other Website Suggestion posts.