Freebie Friday! – Learning to Code Library Center
Happy Friday everyone!
After an insane week like this one, it’s always nice to end on a positive note and share a resource. Starting with the next cycle of library classes, I’m expanding the Puzzle App Center to include another option — learning to code.
Admittedly, the official Hour of Code Week was in early December. Our school participated, but I don’t believe the PR hype that learning to code is a required skill for 21st century life and employment. Am I the only tech geek that thinks this way?
Yes, it’s true that some students will discover that they really enjoy coding and/or that they are good at it. Some might eventually want to make a career of programming. For other students, learning to code is just one means of building creativity and problem-solving skills. And it’s certainly not the only means to that end.
For still others, programming won’t be remotely interesting, and that’s okay too. That’s why I think it’s so important that students have as many choices, opportunities, and experiences as possible when they are in elementary school. Sometimes you have to try a lot of things before you find what you like, how you learn, and what you’re really good at. After all, isn’t that one of education’s core purposes?
At the “Learning to Code” library center, students will have a choice to use the Scratch™ web-based block programming language, or the Scratch™ Jr. app, or the Lightbot™ app. Scratch™ has long been recognized as an exemplary and accessible way for children (and adults) to learn and write programs. Students can create videos, stories, games, and much more within the Scratch™ programming environment, and save their work from week to week by creating an account.
More recently in late 2014, the FREE Scratch™ Jr. iPad app was released, and the Android app is due to be released by the end of March for devices running Android KitKat (4.4) and up. Tablets running Android JellyBean (4.3) will be compatible later in 2015. I know I’m “counting my chickens before they hatch” by starting the center before the Scratch™ Jr. app is released, but after looking at the website FAQ, I’m confident they’ll deliver. (UPDATE 4/4/2015 – The Android app is now available, and running on our Nexus tablets!)
Finally, the Hour of Code 2014 version of the Lightbot™ app is FREE for Apple and Android devices. I haven’t tried the either of the paid versions yet, but once students finish all of the Lightbot challenges, then I’ll probably buy one or both.
If you’d like to try out the Learning to Code center in your library, makerspace, or classroom, you can download the center signs by clicking the image below, or by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Save Link As.” The Word document download is editable, but the clipart is flattened to respect the designer, Sonya DeHart Design.
I’d love to hear what you think of the center in the comments! Do you teach computer programming and/or coding skills in your curriculum? What resources and tools do you use?