How to Turn Your Hour of Code into an Hour of Excellence!

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Hour of Code celebrations take place during Computer Science Education Week, December 3-9, but now is the time to prepare for a successful event in your school or classroom. The Hour of Code™ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. This annual event promotes increased access to computer science for all ages and genders. Even more importantly, participants are encouraged to have fun and develop an interest in computer science that takes them beyond the classroom.

If you are a tech coach, it is probably up to you to introduce and prepare for Hour of Code™ activities for your teachers. If you don’t have a tech coach, this might be left up to you to develop or share with others. Either way, advanced planning is the key to a successful Hour of Code event, and sharing information with others helps build excitement and interest for all of you.

If you haven’t participated in this event, this is a great time to get started. This short video offers an excellent introduction to setting up Hour of Code in any environment.

Here are some ideas to take you from start to finish with your Hour of Code celebration:

Starting Now:

  • Research coding activities for each grade level. TeachersFirst Coding resources include a wide variety of coding games and activities for grades K and up. One of my favorite sites for free lessons is Code.org (TeachersFirst review). The Learning tab contains courses for all ability levels.
  • Evaluate the technology available to use. Are all devices working and prepared to handle your coding activities? Will all students have access to computers? Will the bandwidth in your school be strong enough to handle student needs? Not all Hour of Code™ activities have to take place on computers so if these are problems, look at these non-tech alternatives shared by Hour of Code. Consider having some of these activities prepared in case of an internet shut down during your Hour of Code session.
  • Consider booking a speaker to discuss computer science with your students. If that isn’t an option, find a motivational video to build student excitement. Share the video on your class or school webpage for parents to view too. Find an excellent selection of motivational videos to choose from on Code.org. Consider sharing a video each week during November as you prepare for your event.
  • Recruit volunteers to help with student activities.
  • Are you on Twitter? Use social media like Twitter to share the date of your event, links to activities, and invite parents to participate. Share statistics on the importance of computer science and the benefits of choosing a career in STEM fields. ComputerScience.org is a great starting place to find career information. Don’t forget to use your school or class hashtag along with #HourOfCode.
  • Create certificates of completion to give to student participants. Make your own, or use these certificates from Code.org.

During Your Event:

  • Be prepared to handle problems that may arise with your equipment or internet disruptions.
  • Make it easy for students to access your Hour of Code™ activity.
  • If you have volunteers, organize them to work with specific groups of students or in defined areas as needed.
  • Pass out certificates to students at the end of the session.
  • Tweet during your activities to share student participation and successes.

Post Hour of Code:

  • Gather feedback on activities from participants and other teachers. What worked and what didn’t work? Save notes for use during next year’s Hour of Code event.
  • Collect and share images on your website.
  • Have students write thank you notes to volunteers.
  • Ask students to reflect on the Hour of Code experience. Use Flipgrid (TeachersFirst review) to create video student responses sharing their thoughts. Flipgrid offers a new feature called MixTapes; use this feature to put together a “best of the best” of your video responses. Share this with your administrators as an excellent way to promote the success of your Hour of Code event.

Preparation for this event is the key to success. Think about what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get it done now instead of waiting until the last minute. There are many online sources available to help you bring Hour of Code to all students and make it an Hour of Excellence! We always love to hear from our readers. Help others prepare for Hour of Code by sharing your favorite activities or tips below.  

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About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.


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