Bring Code to Your Classroom: A Guide for Teachers to Implement a Successful Hour of Code for CSEdWeek
Are you ready to join the tens of thousands of classrooms that participate in the Hour of Code during CSEdWeek every year? This global event is a great way to spark students’ interest in STEM, develop their computational thinking skills, and inspire them to create their own projects. With over a thousand available activities and teacher resources, there’s something for every classroom.
Here are a few easy tips to make your classroom Hour of Code a success.
1. Curate the activities for your classroom
The number of choices for coding activities can be overwhelming for anyone, let alone students getting their first taste of computer science. Take some time to look through the various possibilities and choose one or more activities that best suit your classroom. The Hour of Code website allows you to search by grade level, coding ability, device type, and language. Although many of these tutorials allow for students to work independently, most students will benefit from a teacher’s support, so look for tutorials that provide a clear role and support for the teacher.
2. Check your devices and resources ahead of time
Make sure you have enough working computers or tablets for your students to participate in the Hour of Code, and that none of the videos or other resources are blocked on student devices. Remember that different activities have different device requirements, so you’ll want to reference the activities you’ve chosen for your students. If the tutorial includes sound, headphones will be essential! Some tutorials, such as the CoderZ Code Farm activity, include materials that can be displayed during whole group activities, and you may want to download these onto your own computer. Most activities will include a customizable certificate that can be printed out and distributed to students, or even emailed to parents. If you want your students to have a physical copy, print them out ahead of time.
3. Fit it to your classroom culture
As teachers know, even the most successful special activities can cause challenges as they break the classroom routine. While many Hour of Code activities present as stand-alone, independent challenges, they can also be incorporated into current topics and classroom routines. Spend some time as a whole group setting the stage for the activity as you would for any lesson. This could include journal prompts, videos, or class discussions, depending on what best fit your student needs. Many lesson plans may already include discussion questions, learning objectives, or helpful videos. Check out our Hour of Code lesson plan to see what type of resources may be available to you.
4. Take a step back
One of the benefits of computing education is that it supports students in building crucial 21st century skills, such as collaboration, persistence, and problem solving. Hour of Code is a great opportunity to support students in developing these skills, and in building their own self-efficacy, by allowing them to explore and experiment within the activities. Some of the most exciting moments for students may be when they go beyond the prescribed activities and create something that is completely their own. Support these creative endeavors and encourage students to learn from each other and forge their own paths rather than follow step by step instructions to the letter. Students who are truly stuck may need some support and encouragement, but even asking them to explain their problem in detail may be enough to get started again. And above all, remind them that getting things wrong before you get them right is a natural part of the programming process. Read more about Coding a Growth Mindset here.
5. Celebrate and showcase student work
The Hour of Code is not only a learning opportunity, but also a celebration of what your students can do with their coding skills. Celebrate students’ creativity and achievement by showcasing their work, either internally through a gallery walk or presentations, or by sharing with other teachers, administrators, and parents. While some tutorials may not allow students to directly share their code due to privacy concerns, all students should be able to screenshot or take pictures of their programs in action. Allow students to share what they are most proud of and celebrate their ability to persist through challenges and find a new outlet for their creativity.
6. Don’t stop now!
The Hour of Code can give students a small taste of the fun and the power of coding, but it’s just the beginning. From coding clubs to robot competitions to full curricula, there are tons of ways that teachers and students can dive deeper into this subject. Stay tuned for more.
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