As a computer science teacher, this was truly the most wonderful time of the year for me. I would decorate my classroom over Thanksgiving break so that my students would come back to a winter wonderland. As they entered the computer lab, Andy Williams would belt out “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on the speaker. There was a genuine excitement in the air because the kids knew that this meant that we would be coding for the rest of the month. To me, there was no “Hour” of Code… it was a whole month.
I caught the Hour of Code bug during its first year and on the very first day I knew that I had found a winner. My students were completely engaged, the classroom was silent for the entire 45 minutes, and every student left that class period exhausted because they had worked so hard. You see, it’s not that we expect every student to work for Google one day, but every student should benefit from practicing the problem-solving skills that computer science encourages. Moreover, computer science helps nurture creativity and problem-solving skills to prepare students for any future career.
If you have never coded yourself, please give it a try. Just go to hourofcode.com and try out any of the hundreds of activities available for FREE. That’s right… for FREE! If you are not crazy about one, don’t despair; try another. At first, the coding activities may look like you are playing a video game. The learning has been disguised as a game, but trust me, the problem-solving skills that it takes to make it through the game are many. As you (and your students) progress, you will find limitless opportunities to not only hone those problem-solving skills, but also stretch your creativity. Computer science truly allows you to use both sides of your brain.
And, as I already said, the skills learned will prepare your students for any future career. As such, you can find ways to incorporate these same problem solving activities into any curriculum. You definitely do not have to be a computer teacher to try the Hour of Code in your classroom. You don’t even need a device to participate! I always introduced the idea of coding by asking my students to give me directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As your students yell out the instructions, do exactly what they say - even if they skip a step. Then explain how a computer does the same thing… it can only do what you tell it to do. This is just a simple activity that you can use to explain the concept of computer science without a computer. You can find other activities like this on the Hour of Code website tagged “unplugged”.
If the Hour of Code activities page looks daunting, we’ve even narrowed down a few tried and true options for you to try in your classroom. As you can see in the image below, created by IDEA member @iTeacher5th, we’ve even indicated the experience level in an effort to make things easier for you. Simply click on the icons in this Thinglink to be taken directly to the resource.
We hope that you join the millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an Hour of Code. The Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, the first week in December. This year, the Hour of Code will happen December 9-15, 2019. Organize an Hour of Code event during December 9-15, and register it. Then check out this resource on “How to teach one Hour of Code with your class”.