News

App of the Week: Google’s great free coding app

By Stephen Noonoo
August 15th, 2016

Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools

cs first
Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

Google CS First

 

What’s It Like? Google CS First is an online platform for creating, managing, and teaching a middle school computer science (CS) program. There are currently 72 programming explorations and lessons across nine domains (such as arts, gaming, sports, storytelling, and social media). Each lesson is ready to go out of the box and includes a minute-by-minute teacher script, student instructions, example projects, materials (with solution guides), and more. The site also features comprehensive help guides for everything from setting up and maintaining a club to tips for classroom management and discipline issues.

Price: Free

Grades: 4-8

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Fantastic lesson plans, turnkey resources, and club-organization tools make it easy to build a great CS program with little work or prior experience.

Cons: Lessons still rely heavily on watching a video and replicating procedures rather than exploring, plus some tricky setup is required.

Bottom line: If your middle school doesn’t have a CS program, now you do! It’s really that easy, and available content will only grow as time goes on.

About the Author:

Stephen Noonoo

Stephen Noonoo is a former editor of eSchool News. He has served as a consultant for CUE, California’s ISTE affiliate, and as managing editor of its quarterly publication, OnCUE. He has worked as a freelance writer, an education editor for SmartBrief newsletters, and as a staff editor for a well-known publication focusing on education technology.