Home Coding/Computer Science Free Computer Science Tools For The Classroom

Free Computer Science Tools For The Classroom

by Catherine Tabor
computer science

So, summer has ended.  The kiddos are all just beginning to settle in, and you are starting to drown in grading and assignments.  Stress not — TA/CS-SIG, the Technology Applications/Computer Science Special Interest Group, is here for you.  

As the Computer Science Vice President of TCEA’s TA/CS-SIG, I wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite tech apps and computer science resources that make my life manageable and will hopefully help all of you complete tasks more efficiently as well.

Making Life Easier

Every programming and computer science teacher knows that grading coding assignments can cause even the most dedicated soul to become disillusioned with the whole system.  In order to simplify my life, I have used a variety of practice sites throughout my career, many of which you may already be familiar with but some you may not. Oh, and the best part? They are all free.  

  • Repl.it — Repl.it is a simple and powerful online compiler that allows students and teachers to work in over 50 different languages.  Teachers can set up classrooms and create assignments for their students or you can find an already created classroom that you like and borrow from it.  You can even set up autograding, which will save you time in the long run!
  • CodingBat – CodingBat has a series of code practice exercises that you can assign to your students for either Python or Java.  These are a series of small problems that are designed to help build skills and syntax proficiency.
  • Khan Academy – You can create a Khan Academy classroom just for computer science or programming.  The courses offered range from computer programming to computer animation, and all of it is graded for you by Khan Academy.
  • Runestone Academy – This is a website that contains a number of open source, free books and activities.  Like the other sites listed here, Runestone will allow you to make a classroom and give students assignments.  Included on the site is an AP CSA review that I use every year and that my students have found to be very helpful.  The site also contains books on Python and data science, along with exercises and projects that you can use in your classroom.
  • GitHub Classroom – This is one that a lot of us tried a few years ago and found to be a bit unwieldy and difficult to manage.  However, it may be time for you to revisit GitHub classroom. They have a new classroom assistant that makes grading so much easier and that can be integrated to work with an LMS and third-party testing.
  • NICERC – If you are teaching any of the courses in the new cyber security pathway, I am sure you have heard of NICERC. But, if you have not, they have a bunch of great resources for you to use.  They offer curricula for a number of STEM/STEAM disciplines and much of it is hands on and project based.
  • WeTeach_CS – This year, WeTeach_CS from the University of Texas at Austin has rolled out their new computer science A curriculum.  It is free for this year, so sign up and give it a try.
  • Last but not least, TCEA’s TA/CS-SIG officers are always available to help answer your questions and provide great resources via the TA/CS-SIG group in TCEA’s online Community, which all active TCEA TA/CS-SIG members have access to. 

I know there are many resources out there that people are using, but hopefully there is at least one on this list that you haven’t tried yet that will help you stay calm, cool, collected, and organized throughout this school year. If you have additional resources you love, please share by leaving a comment below.

Here’s to a happy, less stressful school year for all!

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1 comment

Diana Gillam July 28, 2020 - 9:31 pm

Hi Catherine, As you know it is summer and I spent the better part of my day today going through these resources and trying to figure out how to embed them with the Canvas LMS so I could set up a coding assignment and then embed it so students could paste and check their code in Canvas and have the score recored in Canvas. I used a canvas course that did just that provided by Edhesive this past year, so I know it is possible, but I can’t seem to figure out how to create my own course with this capablity. I would really appreciate a tutorial video showing how to do this from one of the more user friendly sites. I tried using repl.it, but the embed file is generic and does not log the students in. I need something that would run in canvas I believe and recognize the student logged in to Canvas.


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