Coding for students

Via Lumen Christi, The Office of Schools Quarterly Newsletter – November 2017

Lately all the buzz is about students learning to code. Over 90% of parents want programming added to their curriculum. In today’s digital world, coding is a fundamental skill alongside math and reading, but too few kids have the opportunity to learn to program. Here are five reasons why learning to code is so important:

  1. Coding drives innovation
  2. Coding allows children to be creative
  3. Coding builds confidence
  4. Coding is best learned at an early age similar to learning a second language
  5. Coding translates to success in other areas

Abstract math concepts can be a challenge to many students. Programming helps them visualize those concepts. Coding also teaches problem-solving skills as the students are creating or debugging a program.

5 Apps to help students learn to code

1. codeSpark

In this coding app students learn to program by solving a series of puzzle challenges and using a visual coding language. Instead of being intimidating, codeSpark Academy with The Foos makes learning how to program seem like playing a video game. This coding app is free for schools. Teachers can set up, manage and track student progress in their classes. In the resources page, teachers can download full curriculum with 10 lessons, solutions guide, offline activities, how to videos, and much more. For more information please visit their website http://codespark.org/ and to sign up for a free teacher account visit http://dashboard.thefoos.com/#/

2. Tynker

Another coding website and app that provide coding instruction for children ages seven and up. Tynker is a complete learning system to teach coding. Students begin experimenting with visual blocks, then progress to JavaScript and Python as they design games, build apps, and make incredible projects. Schools and teachers can sign up for either a schools or a teacher account. There are grade specific programming courses that can be integrated into the classroom. To view a list of courses available by grade and to sign up for an account go to https://www.tynker.com/school/ . The Tynker app is free https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tynker-try-hour-code.-learn/id805869467?mt=8/.

3. Scratch

Scratch is a free visual programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch was created to help young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. Students can easily create interactive stories, animations and games. Scratch 2 is available online and as an application for Windows, MAC OS, and Linux. There is also a free app for young children ages 5-7 called Scratch Jr. https://www.scratchjr.org/ . To create teacher accounts and see the educator resources go to https://scratch.mit.edu/educators/.

4. Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is a free app that requires no coding knowledge and makes it fun to learn and experiment with code. It is perfect for students just starting out. Students solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of coding, while additional challenges let them explore code and create programs that are engaging and unique. For more information and teacher resources visit https://www.apple.com/swift/ and https://www.apple.com/everyone-can-code/. To download the app go to https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=908519492&mt=8&ls=1 .