Some states, including Arkansas, Hawaii and Delaware, have already taken the lead in making computer science education available to all students. The Computer Science Education Coalition is urging congress to provide 250 million dollars in federal funding for K – 12 computer science education.
Which is great, especially since we want kids to be ready for the workforce:
Worldwide, almost all of the most hotly-demanded skills (other than #3, #24, and #25) are about computing and computer science. #CSforAll
All teachers, regardless of their technical skills, have something to contribute. Drawing on everyone’s creativity, knowledge and ideas will strengthen your technology program, build confidence, and take away fear.
Tip: Don’t force teachers to teach code. Rather, help them incorporate coding concepts into their lessons, even without technology.
2. Create a Blog for Your Technology Program
Creating a school wide computer science program seems like a daunting amount of organization. But if you go slowly and step-by-step, it’s doable.
A blog is a great way to keep everything organized. If you don’t know how to set up a blog, you’ll surely find somebody in your school who can help you – maybe even a student.
Edublogs, an educational version of WordPress, is a wonderful blogging platform for schools:
Having a blog post for each coding class session, with the plan for the day, embedded images and videos, and all the necessary links helps classes run smoothly.
Create a category for each class or group of students.
Write posts in “pseudocode” so children can get used to seeing common coding symbols and formatting.
Besides lesson plans, include pages with information for parents, rules, and photos (which can be password protected). Having a page of links students can visit if they’re waiting for help keeps kids from getting antsy and frustrated.
Adding a “project gallery” page is a fun way for students to show off their projects.
Include widgets with vocabulary words, links the students need often, etc.
Create bookmarks, or better yet, set browsers to open directly to the blog.
Encourage families to visit the blog regularly.
3. Code Across the Curriculum
Coding, for better or worse, is most often associated with STEM or STEAM. But, with all the critical thinking and problem solving involved, coding can go so much farther than that, without taking time away from other subject areas.
In Language Arts, kids can use programs like Scratch to boost their storytelling and technical skills at the same time. Game designers and animators map out their stories all the time. Students can too:
Get teachers of all subjects to “talk like a techie” and before you know it, math class won’t be the only place students are using words like “variable.” You might even hear them using words like “antagonist” and “protagonist” on the playground.
Tip: Let students design their own vocabulary flashcards with PhotoShop or an online tool like Canva or PicMonkey.
4. Step Away from Screens
Little kids should should be singing, making friends, learning how to cooperate with others, and playing in the dirt. Kids need to play.
Once a core group of coders is established, the school will have a group of kids who are able to help run your school’s computer science program.
Tip: Encourage teachers and administrators to come to coding club meetings and work on tutorials and projects so the children have a chance to watch adults learn.
7. Let The Students Surpass the Teachers
Even teachers who have never written a single line of code can teach computer science. The idea is to learn along with the kids and expose them to new ideas.
Stuck in the middle of a lesson? Don’t worry. That’s absolutely okay. All programmers need to look things up and debug. There’s no reason students and teachers shouldn’t learn how to solve problems together.
It’s very likely that some students will get to a point where they they know more than their teachers. And that’s okay too. Learn from them, keep them on track, and teach them how to teach themselves.
This way, every time families receive an email from the school, they’ll have instant access to photos, events and everything the students are learning:
Tip: There’s no need to include all the features you see in the example above. Ask parents which parts of your school’s signature they interact with most and adapt your signature as time goes on.
We teach kids writing, even if they don’t plan to become writers. We teach kids biology, even if their future careers have nothing to do with science. We teach kids music, even if they never play an instrument as an adult.
We teach these subjects to make the next generation of adults capable, well-rounded and educated.
In this day and age, we have a responsibility to teach coding for the same reason:
Technology and computers are very much at the core of our economy going forward. To be prepared for the demands of the 21st century—and to take advantage of its opportunities—it is essential that more of our students today learn basic computer programming skills, no matter what field of work they want to pursue.
~ Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer
There you have it. Follow these ten steps, and help the students in your school prepare for the future.
Does your school have a computer science program? What has worked for you? Leave a comment and share your expertise.
Written by Melissa Fragiadaki
Melissa is WiseStamp’s blog administrator and loves delving into topics of interest to small businesses. She’s an audiobook fiend, podcast connoisseur, and adventurous traveler who enjoys writing lines of code as much as she enjoys writing pages of fiction.