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We predict outcomes and analyze results daily, whether at work or home. We understand our World around us better by either following or putting together a set of steps and rules, breaking them down into parts to better clarify, look for similarities, and remove unnecessary details in the mix to finally make judgements about what we have constructed in our brain.  This, my friends is computational thinking.  Some of us may be better than others, but we are fully capable.  Our students, also as capable, just might need more opportunities to develop this life long skill.  So how can educators help grow and strengthen computational thinkers in the classroom?  why, learning to code, of course!

Here are a few tools and websites to get your students started:

  1. Code.org – an awesome place to start for online/on demand activities for students of ALL AGES. Start with Hour of code to get a taste, then, dive into their very comprehensive curriculum filled with EASY step by step activities (with full lesson plans for teachers, too), as well as unplugged lessons. Looking for more “student-Led” activities?  Check out the app lab or the express curriculum.
  2. CS First – Another great online computer science curriculum (created by Google) for new coders.  Students  use Scratch, a free online block based coding platform and the step by step activity guides in CS First to create interactive stoires, games, and animations.
  3. Microbit – With a mini computer in one hand and a program in the other (well, on the keyboard), students use block coding to turn their microbit into a rolling dice game, a rock paper scissors game, a “love Meter”, or a step-counter, to name a few.  Students follow easy tutorials to get started, then can kick it up several notches as they use JavaScript and Python, as well as learn how to invent and create through coding. RSD Tech has class sets to borrow anytime.  Just say the word.  
  4. SAM Labs – The quickest opportunity for kids to construct coded creations as well as bring content in the classroom to a whole new level.  Starting with the STEAM Kit (grades 2-8) along with the SAM Space App on Chromebooks,  students start coding by dragging and dropping components in the virtual space, to then make their code come to life, in the physical space.  Students can then move up to using Workbench as the platform to create more sophisticated programs with block coding and java script using the Learn to Code Kit (grades 6-12).  All Kits come with curriculum that is out of this world.  STEAM curriculum is NGSS aligned, and Learn to Code curriculum integrates a multitude of other technology components to beef up the STEM challenge.  Not sure if your school has these tools?  Email Vickie Perryman to get the SAM Labs you need to get your kids coding!

Not sure how to get started with coding in your classroom or looking for small ways to integrate coding and the practice of computational thinking?  contact Mike Nye or Vickie Perryman today!