By now, most educators understand the importance of coding. Programmers continue to be in high demand, and coding improves much-needed skills like creativity, persistence, problem solving, and critical thinking.
But just because you know you should teach something, doesn’t mean you can. Perhaps you can’t figure out how to fit it into your already crowded curriculum, or maybe you’re intimidated to try. eSchool News is here to help.
We asked 11 Sphero Heroes—teachers from all over the U.S. who are using Sphero robots to transform teaching and learning in their classrooms and beyond—to share their expertise about bringing coding into the classroom.
Here is their advice.
11 ways to teach coding skills
1. “Bring coding into your classroom by thinking big picture. Talk about computational thinking first in real-world situations, like ‘How can we break this problem down and solve it?’ Coding isn’t just syntax! It’s about knowing the basic chunks like if/else and loops, and those can be discussed real world daily. My high school girls in programming go for internship interviews and they are repeatedly told that memorizing languages doesn’t matter nearly as much as knowing how to start breaking problems down.”
—Brandy New, instructional technology coordinator, Hardin County (KY) Schools
2. “Start from day 1. You and your students will not see it as one more thing to do, but as a part of what you do. Jump in head first, fight the disequilibrium, allow students and yourself to learn. You will encounter challenges; don’t give up. Coding can bring a level of authentic engagement to our classrooms that we’ve never experienced.”
—Michael Cullen, elementary science program specialist, Marion County (FL) Public Schools
3. “Bringing coding into the classroom does not need to be scary! Sometimes we as teachers struggle with wanting to master content first before teaching when sometimes the most transformational moments for our kids are watching us fail forward. Just adding one or two elements of coding to a unit or project opens the door for students to think in more creative ways and builds their own comfort with it.”
—Hannah Jimenez, digital learning specialist, Lenoir County (NC) Public Schools
4. “My best advice is to let go of being the expert. You are there to guide students in the process and encourage them to show the persistence to overcome obstacles. It is okay if you do not exactly know how do something. It is a wonderful thing when you learn side by side with your students.”
—Chris Schmitz, computer technology teacher, St. Vrain Valley (CO) School District