This blog entry was written by guest blogger Megan Chriss (@megan_chriss). Ms. Chriss serves Katy ISD as a Classroom Technology Designer.
The Hour of Code has opened up a new world in education. It seems like everywhere you turn the words “coding” and “STEM” are being used. From Congress to classrooms, these Tweets and articles all say how important it is to include computer science in the curriculum. Many teachers feel that students already have the necessary skills, and it shouldn’t be a focal point in the classroom. However, coding is more than just opening an MS Word document.
Students are losing their passion for school, and coding is working to fix that. By creating a foundation of computer science and incorporating it across the curriculum, students can gain the necessary critical thinking and collaborative skills needed to be successful outside the walls of their school.
This goes beyond just creating a flappy bird game. We need to deCODE our schools by creating a campus-wide initiative to help foster an environment conducive to STEM and coding.
How can you begin?
Start a Coding Club: One of the easiest ways to bring STEM and coding to your school is by creating a coding club. Use free programs from Khan Academy, Code.org, Code Academy and Tynker to bring fun and engaging programs to your students. This can be used for all grade levels and build a strong foundation using blocking and Java.
Spheros: These bluetooth robotic balls can take coding to the next level. Numerous apps allow students to complete activities by programming the Sphero to play games and even run through obstacle courses. SPRK Lightning Lab lets teachers create and share various challenges for students to complete while aiding in curriculum integration. Lessons involve mathematics, science, and even art.
LEGOs: Yes, LEGOs! These wonderful blocks can be used in teaching algorithms, which is the basis of all programming. Split students into groups and have them create a product using a set of directions. Take it to the next level and have the students create their own pattern. Tulane University offers this activity for Lego towers.
STEM Works: This great website contains a plethora of activities for incorporating coding and computer science into your curriculum. Activities range from programming a friend to building your own app. Articles provide the ability for cross-curricular lessons.
Twitter: There are numerous hashtags and groups to follow on Twitter for ideas. #STEM and #stemeducation are two groups to follow, as well as @SpheroEdu for lessons from fellow teachers.
While these are just a few resources, the possibilities are endless! Coding and STEM create an opportunity to bring creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration into every classroom. Students will have fun expressing themselves in new, exciting ways. Unleash your inner coder and bring education to the next level.
Announcement: Be sure to check out the TCEA Maker events, starting in May 2016 and repeated throughout the year. These hands-on sessions will introduce you to many of the technologies Megan refers to in this blog entry.