Hour of Code - it's been on my mind the past few weeks. What is Hour of Code, you might ask? Well, directly from their website:
Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.
So, why has the idea of kids coding taken up so many of my thoughts lately? Well, an interesting fact about me - when I started college, I was a computer engineering major. I liked computers, I took a programming class in high school and I thought it would be rewarding (read: money making) profession. That major lasted approximately 1.5 semesters when I decided I could not be a CprE major or work in the field. I was interested in technology still and jumped at a chance to take an programming/engineering course for preservice teachers. Taking that one course, Toying with Technology, pushed my thinking on teaching coding to kids and the importance of embedding it within our classrooms.
Many argue that coding is the language of the future and this article from Edsurge mirrors my beliefs on coding:
We are teaching them to code, however, not so much as an end in itself but because our world has morphed: so many of the things we once did with elements such as fire and iron, or tools such as pencil and paper, are now wrought in code. We are teaching coding to help our kids craft their future.
Should all kids participate in Hour of Code? I think we, as educators and role models should give them that experience. Coding can (and should) be so much more than repeat commands and ;s. Teaching kids to code is giving them the opportunity to problem solve, work through real world math problems, and think critically. Programmers often work in teams to solve problems and create complex, creative solutions.
Do I think that all kids will grow up to be programmers? No. But, it's important that we know how and why the technology that is so intricately woven into our everyday lives works and what it is based on. It's also a growing field. Code.org cites that there are 3 times more programming jobs being created than there are programmers graduating. Plus, those skills that coding can teach to kids - collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity - I think we all need a little more work on that.
So, won't you join in on an Hour of Code next week? Look at code.org for more resources or you could also download the apps Kodable, Hopscotch or CargoBot, Tynker or Dasiy the Dinosaur. Come back and share your certificate of completion next week! I bet you'll enjoy it!