TeachersFirst's Computational Thinking

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Computational thinking is expressing solutions so that humans and computers can understand them. A great way to visualize how to embed it in your classroom is to have the students think like the physicist, economist, artist, mathematician, etc. to identify the problems that need to be explored. This is not programming computers but logical ways for problem solving. It is a problem solving tool for every classroom that has students think like a problem solver and use higher level cognitive skills.

 

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The British Computer Society Classroom Resources - BT in partnership with Computing At School

Grades
K to 5
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Discover a variety of computational thinking resources for elementary students including lessons, activity sheets, PowerPoints, and downloadable classroom posters. Register for an account...more
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Discover a variety of computational thinking resources for elementary students including lessons, activity sheets, PowerPoints, and downloadable classroom posters. Register for an account using your email to access and save materials found on the site. Browse through activities by grade level or topics. Topics include programming, collaboration, logical thinking, and more. Be sure also to check out the Teacher Resources to find professional development to bring you up to date with the latest computing concepts.

tag(s): coding (75), collaboration (83), computational thinking (33), computers (99), logic (164), patterns (60)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the lessons and materials on this site to introduce computer and computational skills to elementary-age students. Several activities incorporate music and art concepts; collaborate with your school's special area teachers to teach lessons found on the site. Use a portfolio tool such as Seesaw, reviewed here, to have students enhance and share their learning successes through sharing pictures of projects and written reflections on learning activities. Work together as a class to modify classroom technology by creating a digital book using WriteReader, reviewed here, to feature class learning of computer concepts.

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UK Bebras Challenge - UK Bebras Challenge

Grades
K to 12
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UK Bebras offers an annual computational thinking challenge in Oxford, England. This site shares problems from 2014 and later and includes answer booklets. Take timed practice challenges...more
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UK Bebras offers an annual computational thinking challenge in Oxford, England. This site shares problems from 2014 and later and includes answer booklets. Take timed practice challenges within age groups starting at 6-8 years old and moving up to 16-18. View the directions to understand scoring rules and timing.

tag(s): computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), logic (164), mental math (19), problem solving (215)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site to use in your math classroom. Encourage students to complete activities in different age categories. Find problems to share with your classroom to use in math centers or as homework. Ask students to create a Google spreadsheet to track their attempts at completing challenges and their results. Use on online digital portfolio tool like WeLearnedIt, reviewed here, for students to share their problem solving strategies, or challenge them to create an explainer video using Rawshorts, reviewed here. Rawshorts is a drag and drop format site designed to allow you to create short animated or explainer videos to share on TeacherTube, reviewed here, YouTube and other social media sites.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Blended Play - BlendedPlay

Grades
3 to 12
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Create games for groups or multiple players personalized with your content using Blended Play. Choose from five game options with titles like Mountain Climber and Sushi Take Over. Add...more
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Create games for groups or multiple players personalized with your content using Blended Play. Choose from five game options with titles like Mountain Climber and Sushi Take Over. Add questions to your game selection and save. Choose options within games to select the number of players, length of the game, and more. Watch the tutorial video shared on Blended Play for complete instructions on creating and using games from the site. The tutorial also comes in PDF format. The video is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the video may not be viewable.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), design (83), game based learning (158), gamification (79), problem solving (215)

In the Classroom

Before creating games, take advantage of shared files in the Community Games library to quickly make games accessible for students. Once you are familiar with the site, create games for any topic to use for review or as a schema activator. Encourage students to use this tool as a substitute for paper and pen. Have groups of students create their own review games for personal use and to share with fellow students. As students gain confidence in creating their own games, share other game-creation sites like Scratch, reviewed here, as an excellent way to promote creativity and personalize any learning experience.

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C-Stem Studio - UC Davis C-Stem Center

Grades
K to 12
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C-Stem Studio is a software download integrated with learning opportunities for STEM subjects. Videos and interactives provide instruction in math, coding, and robotics. Choose from...more
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C-Stem Studio is a software download integrated with learning opportunities for STEM subjects. Videos and interactives provide instruction in math, coding, and robotics. Choose from the different pages to view information about each program. For those who prefer not to download software; try RoboBlockly. Roboblockly is an online tool for learning to code using drag and drop blocks to move robots. There is a link for RoboBlockly on this site.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), game based learning (158), gamification (79), logic (164), problem solving (215), robotics (23), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Download C-Stem Studio as part of your ongoing STEM and coding instruction. Be sure to follow directions on downloading the correct version and order of downloads. Share activities on your interactive whiteboard or projector, then have students create and explore on their own. After school clubs and activities can use this program to learn to code. Use this tool with gifted students for a great challenge. Set up a coding activity center for interested students when they finish class work or for rainy days and snow days. Share this link on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom.

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The Code Player - thecodeplayer.com

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn to code through videos demonstrating actual typing of code to create items from scratch. Scroll through the page to choose a demo featuring HTML5, CSS, Javascript and more. Click...more
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Learn to code through videos demonstrating actual typing of code to create items from scratch. Scroll through the page to choose a demo featuring HTML5, CSS, Javascript and more. Click the demo image, then Play, Walkthrough, or View code. Project ideas include creating an interactive to-do list, text bubbles, or hover over information over images, and much more. After selecting a video, go to the upper left corner and click to play the walkthrough or view the code. Playing the walkthrough takes viewers through typing the code from beginning to end. There is no audio/sound.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), design (83), logic (164), problem solving (215), STEM (218), tutorials (43), video (242)

In the Classroom

The Code Player is an excellent tool for anyone who prefers to watch demonstrations to learn instead of reading or listening to directions. Depending on the coding abilities of your students, choose one of the demos to display on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector and learn together. Have groups of students choose a different coding format to complete an activity. Use this site as a model for you or your students to create your own screencasts sharing how-to projects with coding. Enhance learning by using a tool like Screencastify, reviewed here. Screencastify works with the Chrome browser to record your screen and capture audio recordings. Have more advanced students create their own coding projects for classroom use.

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Edabit - Matt MacPherson

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn to code with Edabit and their progressively difficult interactive challenges. Start by using your email to register. Begin with challenges that match your coding skills, then...more
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Learn to code with Edabit and their progressively difficult interactive challenges. Start by using your email to register. Begin with challenges that match your coding skills, then continue learning as you progress through more challenging activities. Each Edabit Challenge includes a problem, practice with code, help resources, and a discussion area. As you complete coding challenges, earn experience points and unlock new skills through real-world situations.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), engineering (109), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Coding is an excellent way to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Use this site as homework, a center, or in a lab setting. Activities are self-paced, so differentiation is easy. However, it is still a good idea, if possible, to seat a more experienced computer user with one who is less experienced. Explain to students that coding is a critical skill in today's world filled with technology and will also be a valuable skill in the job market. Many jobs that will require coding do not yet exist. Put a link to this tool on your class website, blog, or wiki.

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Minecraft Education Edition - Microsoft and Mojang AB

Grades
2 to 12
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Promote creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration through game play with Minecraft Education Edition. This version of the popular game includes features for classroom use including...more
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Promote creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration through game play with Minecraft Education Edition. This version of the popular game includes features for classroom use including documentation of work and a secure environment for class play. In addition to the software download, this site includes a small base of lesson plans, classroom community support forums, and a My Classroom feature. My Classroom allows teachers to create a private world for students to join enabling them to work together in the same world.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), game based learning (158), gamification (79), Microsoft (65)

In the Classroom

Make use of the features provided in the education edition of Minecraft to allow learning through gameplay. Ask students to use the camera and portfolio features to document decision making and progress through games. Use features within the game to learn about history, for example, have students import 3-dimensional structures such as the Roman Colosseum to explore and create experiences from that time. Instruct students to create a story for creative writing projects. Encourage students to retell a story through a Minecraft experience. Use Minecraft features to teach math lessons on shape, volume, area, and more. Discover more ideas at Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials, reviewed here.

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Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials - code.org

Grades
2 to 12
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Use code to make your own Minecraft game or learn the basics of computer coding by moving characters through a Minecraft world with these Hour of Code activities. These activities ...more
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Use code to make your own Minecraft game or learn the basics of computer coding by moving characters through a Minecraft world with these Hour of Code activities. These activities teach and reinforce coding skills through the familiar Minecraft game. After watching a video introduction, you will follow instructions to place code to move characters within the game. Free resources include a lesson plan, videos, computer science curriculum, and a teacher training.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), design (83), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Make coding part of science inquiry or math logic in any classroom. Include it as part of scientific method or discussions about careers in science. You may even want to portray coding as just another "world language" in today's world. Be sure to look at all the implementation advice before introducing these extensive coding resources to your class. It would be wise to complete the Hour of Code yourself, so you will feel comfortable helping students if they get stuck. Better yet, invite a few students to do an hour with you after school and learn together! You will have a team of "techsperts" to help their peers. Plan an hour of Code on nationally designated days or on your own calendar! Invite the PTA/PTO to host a coding event. Select a video from this site to use to introduce Computer Science to your students. If you only have a few computers, introduce this tool using a projector or interactive whiteboard and bookmark it as a learning station with earbuds/headphones. Encourage students to help each other when they have difficulty. Share this on your website for students to use at home, too.

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Shikaku Madness - Ganbaru Games

Grades
4 to 12
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Shikaku Madness is a logic-based puzzle where you attempt to cover a grid with rectangles. Use the numeric clues on the grid to solve the puzzle. Tap and drag on ...more
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Shikaku Madness is a logic-based puzzle where you attempt to cover a grid with rectangles. Use the numeric clues on the grid to solve the puzzle. Tap and drag on the grid to create rectangles that don't overlap and contain the number of squares in the clue. Choose from four levels of difficulty when attempting puzzles.

tag(s): computational thinking (33), logic (164), multiplication (121), problem solving (215)

In the Classroom

Shikaku Madness is an excellent addition to classroom bookmarks for practicing multiplication, working with arrays, developing problem-solving skills, and using logic. Encourage students to work up to the next level and become an expert in Shikaku. Share a link to the site on your class website for students to access at home. Encourage Shikaku "experts" in your class to share their methods for completing each puzzle with other students. Transform learning by challenging students to create a video demonstrating their process in puzzle solving using a tool such as Screencast-o-matic, reviewed here, or Screencastify (Chrome app), reviewed here. Then share it using a tool like SchoolTube, reviewed here.

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CodeChef for Schools - Directi

Grades
8 to 12
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CodeChef for Schools offers computer programming training and competitions. After registering as a New User, choose the Get Started button to begin as a newbie and explore frequently...more
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CodeChef for Schools offers computer programming training and competitions. After registering as a New User, choose the Get Started button to begin as a newbie and explore frequently asked questions. Choose the practice area to hone skills from beginner level through challenge level. Compete in monthly competitions with other coders from around the globe. Middle and high school students will appreciate the lunchtime contests, an introduction to competitive coding, targeted for their age group. These take place the last Saturday of each month, and specific times are posted on the site (click "Compete" at the bottom of the page). The demonstration videos reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable.

tag(s): coding (75), competitions (9), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Coding is an excellent way to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Use this site as homework, a center, or in a lab setting. The site offers different levels, so differentiation is built in. Explain to students that coding is a critical skill in today's world filled with technology and will also be a valuable skill in the job market. Many jobs that will require coding do not yet exist. Put a link to this tool on your class website, blog, or wiki. Encourage advanced students to enter the monthly competitions offered on CodeChef.

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Google CS First - Google

Grades
5 to 9
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Google CS First is a program for clubs to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone in the U.S. Materials...more
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Google CS First is a program for clubs to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone in the U.S. Materials offer lessons based on themes such as storytelling, sports, social media, friends, and fashion and design. In addition to lesson materials, Google CS provides online training information for club leaders. If you are participating in Hour of Code, be sure to see their many one hour offerings.

tag(s): animation (60), coding (75), computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), digital storytelling (129), gamification (79), musical notation (32), problem solving (215), social media (46), sports (82), stories and storytelling (30)

In the Classroom

Create a club in your classroom as part of your STEM activities, as a lunch/recess club, or an at-home activity for students. Use the flyers and presentation materials provided to create interest in the club. Differentiate clubs by student interests and abilities. Share Google CS First with your school's media or tech leader as an excellent resource for teaching coding. This site is perfect for those who want to learn more about coding, but have some hesitancy since all materials from creating a group through the lessons are free. If you still have some doubts, enlist the services of a tech-savvy high school student to help with activities as part of their volunteering requirements.

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Pencil Code Gym - David Bau

Grades
K to 12
4 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Code your own art, music, and interactive fiction with Pencil Code Gym. The main language is Coffescript, but you can press the gear button to use HTML, Javascript, and CSS. ...more
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Code your own art, music, and interactive fiction with Pencil Code Gym. The main language is Coffescript, but you can press the gear button to use HTML, Javascript, and CSS. Follow instructions to code using drag and drop blocks or text. Toggle back and forth between the two formats to view the different formats. Click the pencil in the upper left corner to see several resources including Materials for Teachers, Teachers Manual, Printable Activities, and several others. The wide range of activities make this site perfect for use with students of all levels of coding abilities. When complete, share finished projects on "GymStage", the sharing portion of Pencil Code Gym.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), digital storytelling (129), drawing (56), geometric shapes (129), musical notation (32), problem solving (215)

In the Classroom

Create a link on classroom computers for use as centers. Use the text options for students to use with digital storytelling. This site is perfect for differentiating different levels of coding skills. Allow students to explore at their own pace, then share their creations with classmates. Extend learning by challenging students or groups to create videos explaining their creations using Adobe Spark Video Creator, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here. Be sure to add a link to your class website for students to practice at home.
 

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Great resource for all ages, more appropriate for middle school and above. Melissa, , Grades: 0 - 5

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E.A.K. (Erase All Kittens) - Drum Roll

Grades
1 to 6
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Erase All Kittens is an online activity that teaches HTML coding. As you play, learn how to build ledges, add boxes, and more as your friend Arka endeavors to save ...more
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Erase All Kittens is an online activity that teaches HTML coding. As you play, learn how to build ledges, add boxes, and more as your friend Arka endeavors to save the missing kittens. Short demos and tips throughout the activity guide players on how to add and edit code. This review is for the free DEMO only; click Play E.A.K. to get it.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), logic (164), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Introduce Erase All Kittens on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow students to explore and learn on their own at classroom computer centers or individual laptops. Provide a link to Erase All Kittens for students to access at home. Create a bulletin board for students to post achievement levels. Enhance learning by having student "coding experts" create video tutorials using Screencast-o-matic, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here.

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Gridlock Buster - ITS Institute, University of Minnesota

Grades
K to 12
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Become a member of Traffic Team Alpha. Join the mission to get cars through intersections as quickly as possible by controlling traffic lights. As you complete each mission, move up...more
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Become a member of Traffic Team Alpha. Join the mission to get cars through intersections as quickly as possible by controlling traffic lights. As you complete each mission, move up to more congested intersections and improve your problem-solving skills. Read and follow the directions for priorities with each level.

tag(s): computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), engineering (109), problem solving (215)

In the Classroom

Share Gridlock Buster on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and create a link on classroom computers. Challenge students to increase their score on each mission. Have students discuss their strategies for improving scores. Be sure to share a link on your class website for students to play at home.

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Get Caught Engineering - Wendy Goldfein and Cheryl Nelson

Grades
3 to 8
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating...more
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating engineering into classrooms, as well as an archive of past articles. Sign up with email to get all blog updates. Choose from several lessons ready to print and use. Many lessons offer quick activities using a minimum of materials, ideal for effortlessly incorporating engineering and STEM activities into any classroom!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): computational thinking (33), engineering (109), gravity (43), problem solving (215), scientific method (47), simple machines (16), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities to introduce STEM activities into your classroom. Use lesson plans as ideas for starting an Engineering Night program at your school. Transform learning by having students create an annotated image of projects including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Redefine learning by challenging cooperative learning groups to create videos explaining each step of their process using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Kodable - Surfscore, Inc

Grades
K to 4
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Kodable teaches coding to young children through programming logic, sequence, loops, functions, and debugging. Create one free class account for an unlimited number of students with...more
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Kodable teaches coding to young children through programming logic, sequence, loops, functions, and debugging. Create one free class account for an unlimited number of students with twelve weeks of lessons. There are also informal assessment tools built into lessons that allow you to track student mastery. Find lessons with programming curriculum, explanations of key concepts, and Common Core alignment. You can play without an account; however, results are not saved. Kodable can be used on any web browser or an iPad/iOs device.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): coding (75), computers (99), engineering (109), logic (164), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to learn basic coding skills. Students will quickly catch on to this program when allowed to experiment while viewing their results. Kodable is great for differentiating for students with different abilities and learning styles. Keep track of student progress through your teacher account and entering student profiles. Set Kodable up as a learning center and have students to work in pairs to complete the challenges.

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Code - Hadi & Ali Partovi

Grades
K to 10
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Code is designed to spark interest in learning to code, especially among girls and the very young. Find lessons for beginners, Kindergartners to tenth graders (or older). Start by clicking...more
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Code is designed to spark interest in learning to code, especially among girls and the very young. Find lessons for beginners, Kindergartners to tenth graders (or older). Start by clicking either Teach or Learn in the top menu bar. Select challenges by grade level or find individual challenges with titles like Dance Party, Minecraft, Flappy Code, and more. The challenges and puzzles use a drag and drop process and problem-solving skills. Find everything an early coder needs to get started coding: A K-8 Intro to Computer Science, Tutorials that teach Javascript, Tutorial apps for any device, Learn to program with robots, and many others. There are also "unplugged tutorials" for classrooms without computers. Be sure to check out the "3rd Party Professional Development and Curricula" for many more resources for teaching coding. On the top menu, click on the Teach button to find the link to videos (half way down the page) from famous people about how and when they learned to code. The videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable.

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), problem solving (215), STEM (218), women (99)

In the Classroom

Make coding part of science inquiry or math logic in any classroom. Include it as part of scientific method or discussions about careers in science. You may even want to portray coding as just another "world language" in today's world. Be sure to look at all the implementation advice before introducing these extensive coding resources to your class. It would be wise to complete the Hour of Code yourself so you will feel comfortable helping students if they get stuck. Better yet, invite a few students to do an hour with you after school and learn together! You will have a team of "techsperts" to help their peers. Select the Learn button from the top menu to find two links for educators. The one at the top of the Learn page gives quick tips for prepping for the Hour of Code. The one at the bottom of the slide gives complete instructions for implementing the Hour of Code in your classroom. Plan an hour of Code on nationally designated days or on your own calendar! Invite the PTA/PTO to host a coding event. Select a video to use to introduce Computer Science to your students. Introduce this tool using a projector or interactive whiteboard and bookmark it as a learning station with earbuds/headphones. Encourage students to help each other when they have difficulty. Share this on your website for students to use at home, too. Code teaches the basics. Those students who show a keen interest in coding could extend their learning by using a program such as Codeacademy, reviewed here.

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Tynker - Krishna Vedati

Grades
3 to 8
2 Favorites 0  Comments
    
Learn computer coding using simple and easy activities, lesson plans, and an interface sure to please all ages! Click Educators from the top menu, then select Tynker for Schools to...more
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Learn computer coding using simple and easy activities, lesson plans, and an interface sure to please all ages! Click Educators from the top menu, then select Tynker for Schools to access the free coding courses, or slide down to Hour of Code to find ones you can use at home or school. Alternatively, scroll down the page and click the button "Explore Courses." Build an animated character and then animate it. Create Minecraft Mods, Skins, and learn Game Design. Learn to code by dropping blocks of commands into sequence on the left side of the screen and seeing the results along the right. The lessons provide step by step instructions, missions, and other materials to learn to code. Teachers can create a class and add students to the class. Click on student view of each lesson to see the tools and student tasks. Follow the instructions along the right panel. Note the tools that are along the top including undo and redo! This tool also features a question bar along the top. Note: This free portion of the resource offers six introductory lessons, a visual programming environment, an art studio to draw and paint your own scenes, and a media gallery. The free units of lessons have unlimited student space.
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tag(s): animation (60), coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99), critical thinking (100), design (83), game based learning (158), gamification (79), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Tynker now has a whole section dedicated to remote learning. Find this section by clicking Educators from the top menu, and sliding down to Remote Learning. Even if your class is not remote learning, use some of their tips for a blended learning class. Use this tool to learn basic coding skills. Students will quickly catch on to this program when allowed to "tinker" and see what they can make. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Be sure to recommend that students "ask three before me" (the teacher). Have students use an online storyboard to write down what they plan to do/draw/say with their creation, and to help you keep tabs on students and their progress. For enhancing learning and technology use create a digital storyboard with Story Map, reviewed here, or Storyboard Generator, reviewed here. When finished with these Tynker lessons, move to other free tools such as Scratch, reviewed here. Teachers of even very young gifted students can turn them loose with these challenges when they have already mastered math or science curriculum. Have them create a creature they can explain to the class or share with gifted peers in other classrooms.

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Crunchzilla - Crunchzilla

Grades
3 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
Learn basic computer coding skills using this tool. There are three difficulty levels: Code Monster for preteens (or even younger), Code Maven for teens and young adults, or Game Maven...more
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Learn basic computer coding skills using this tool. There are three difficulty levels: Code Monster for preteens (or even younger), Code Maven for teens and young adults, or Game Maven for ages 16+. Code Monster prompts younger students to change various parameters of an already given code. As they enter different parts to the code, the changes in the object can be seen immediately. Simply click on the dialogue bubble and a new lesson will appear. Unfortunately, creations cannot be saved. (Students can screenshot their creations.) Use Code Maven with older teens, though it appears to have the same lessons as Code Monster. Game Maven is the third and most advanced programming tutorial in this series. Use this to teach a little about programming by creating easy games. In all three tools, skip to further lessons by clicking on the dialogue balloons. Use the back button to return to previous lessons. It is also easy to undo a lesson and start a code over with the reset button. In all tools, if you return to the same browser on the same machine, it will return to the last lesson you were on. Note: Be sure to have played with Code Maven prior to using Game Maven as those lessons are needed to understand how to program (unless there is prior coding experience).

tag(s): coding (75), computational thinking (33), computers (99)

In the Classroom

When discussing computer science and how technology touches all of our lives, be sure to discuss coding and that it is a language that everyone can learn. Show the HTML markup of a page to show what the computer "reads" to form what websites look like. Use these tools to show basics in coding. When students are working, be sure to not rescue them with answers. Encourage learning by telling them to ask three other students first before asking the teacher AND that it is okay if we learn it together. Use other coding programs such as Scratch, reviewed here. Have students create a tutorial or a quick reference guide for using coding. Create a class wiki to share your reference guide. If you want to learn more about wikis, check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through. Share this site with your young gamers to lure them into the logical world of coding -- and actually build STEM skills in the process.

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Scratch - Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab

Grades
1 to 12
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive ...more
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. This application can be used for bringing simple ideas and projects to life. It has great use as a paint program without using the animations. Downloads/install files are available for Mac or PC. Other links include a Getting Started PDF, Help screens to show what each block controls and how to use, and a Reference Guide which provides an overview of the interface. A support page is also available for help in using the application.

Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a JPG or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.

tag(s): animation (60), coding (75), computational thinking (33), critical thinking (100), design (83), drawing (56), problem solving (215), STEM (218)

In the Classroom

Quick start: Click stage and in the center pane, click on backgrounds. Click on paint to make a new background. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.

Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.

Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).

Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.

Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.

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