Combining long working hours, curriculum changes, and addressing learning gaps (to name a few!), we know that the average teacher faces challenges left, right and center. So, when you’re required to teach a new skill that you’re learning at the same time, it can feel a daunting task to add to an already long list.
If you’re new to teaching coding – fear not. Here’s our guide to getting started yourself, with some quick ways to grasp coding – and then teach it – to make your life as easy as possible.
What exactly is coding?
Coding (sometimes called computer programming) is creating a list of step-by-step instructions to get computers to do what you want them to. Code is made from words and numbers, featuring commands.
We create computer programs and applications – like Microsoft Word or a video game – by writing a unique set of code for it.
You may have heard that there are different coding ‘languages’ – this is because different types of tasks require different features and approaches.
However, with all coding based around a process to achieve an end goal, there are common principles and characteristics. For example, projects are split into increments – where the end goal is broken down into small, actionable steps to make it achievable. Creating this code moves the project forward one step at a time.
There are also different user behaviors and choices to consider, which are important to build into a program’s code so it can allow users to take different actions.
With various complex factors at play, learning to code often requires an initial shift in mindset, but this new way of thinking will benefit you and your students beyond STEAM lessons.
What’s the point of teaching coding?
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that the number of job opportunities in software development will increase by 22% from 2020 to 2030. Therefore, students who start their coding journey today will be entering tomorrow’s job market equipped with relevant skills that are in demand.
What’s more, learning to code builds upon transferable skills such as problem-solving, creativity, experimentation, perseverance, teamwork and logical thinking.
How can I teach coding to kids?
Interactive, visual experiences are where it’s at. They’re fun, and encourage learning by doing, while keeping things simple. SAM Labs offers two entry-level programming models – block-based and flow-based – which are easy for kids to understand.
Block-based coding involves adding multiple blocks of code together to build a program. Blocks are grouped based on their similarities, such as general on/off commands, or different devices you would connect together. Check out the SAM Blockly video below to see how it works.
Flow-based coding focuses on a visual workspace, demonstrating flows within processes by connecting various components together in a simple diagram. For example, students can connect a button (an input), an LED light (an output) and a dimmer (a behavior), testing them to understand the cause and effect between devices. See flow-based coding in action in our SAM Space video below.
Both SAM Studio and SAM Blockly can connect to our physical hardware blocks, bringing their coding creations to life!
Resources for you
Before you teach coding, we highly recommend you have a go yourself! Click here to play around with our interactive block or flow-based coding as shown above. You’ll learn a thing or two – even if you have a spare ten minutes!
And as you’re stretched for time, you can also check out some standards-aligned coding and STEAM lesson plans.
Code.org and Codecademy are also great places to access videos, blogs and projects, plus experiment with coding on your own. You may even want to get involved in The Hour of Code – a resource-packed website and global movement taking place in Computer Science Education Week every December.
How we can help
Our Learn to Code Course is designed for teachers at all levels of coding experience, with customizable standards-aligned lesson plans.
The educators we work with have been impressed with how easy it’s been for them, with David Nagle, Portland Public Schools explaining “The simplicity of the physical devices puts the focus on the coding, problem solving, and communication.”
Chris Jaentsch, John Tuck Elementary also said “I love the ability to show students how to code and they have an immediate result they can see from a physical device they can touch and hold.”
Rosie is a writer and storyteller with a passion for tech and learning, with nearly a decade’s experience writing for small tech startups and large brands alike. In her free time she enjoys walks with her pet greyhound Boris, singing in a jazz quartet and making new music.