This year's Hour of Code was great! I enjoyed reading the stories, seeing the tweets, and seeing the pictures of students working during the Hour of Code. Seeing students jump up and down with excitement when their coded worked, seeing a gym full of students all working on Hour of Code activities, and seeing older students helping younger ones code brings a smile to your face. The excite for "coding" is there but now the hard part starts...How do we sustain this momentum?
1. District leadership...are you ready to embrace computer science and provide the resources and support to start courses at your school or in your district? For some places, this will be a tangible way to keep the momentum of Hour of Code going. I feel very fortunate that my district supports computer science and we have new middle courses starting next year. That does not guarantee expose for everyone but it does provide the opportunity for those that are interested.
2. Curriculum leadership...how do we help facilitate computer science integration into the courses we offer our students? This is a tough question but an important one. If we truly want all students to experience computer science, then we have to integrate it into all courses. Integration also helps students see how computer science reaches into different subject areas. This mirrors the real world in which just about every industry has computer science jobs embedded within it. Looking to examples such as this activity from MySci might provide us with ideas on what integration looks like. Other ready made examples might include Project Guts and Algebra with Bootstrap.
3. Classroom teachers...you have the toughest job of all. You might have students who are really fired up about coding but you might not know what to do next. The Hour of Code is only going to carry your students so far. A good first step might be programming with Scratch. There are lots of resources out there to get you and your students started. Scratch has a low floor but a very high ceiling so it is good for all students to explore. Students can create a variety of different products in Scratch such as science simulations, digital stories, math concept demonstrations, and much more. Students may also enjoy taking their coding skills into the world of robotics. With products such as Vex IQ, Lego EV3 and WeDo to name a few, students can take programming to a new level. The possibilities are limitless.
To make all of this happen, our teachers need our support. From leadership, a message of assurance that failure is ok when we try something new needs to be there for our teachers. Not all of these new lessons and learning experiences are going to go perfect...teachers need to understand that this is ok. From curriculum leaders, teachers need our support to find ways to integrate computer science into the standards for which they must utilize in their classrooms. We all know time is precious so finding these connections to curriculum becomes paramount.
For our teachers, the best advice I can give is treat yourself like a learner. Do not feel the pressure to be the "expert". Show some vulnerability to your students and let them know you are learning with them. Give them a greater responsibility to learn and help each other out. Take the pressure of expertise off your plate and see what happens. It may not always be pretty but the best learning can be messy.
The Hour of Code is over and now the work begins. Together, we can open up new opportunities for ALL students in computer science.
Come along for the ride...who's with me!