20 ideas for teaching coding in math, science, social studies, and ELA

Here are some ways to help students gain coding and other essential skills

You might think coding is a novel trend that doesn’t have other applications beyond programming, but coding offers many connections to multiple subjects, with the added benefit of reinforcing essential 21st-century skills. In coding, students use computational thinking and critical thinking to solve problems. This involves mastering the skill of perseverance, as they must be willing to fail, troubleshoot, and try again in order to have the code execute what was intended. Through this process, students are recognizing errors and determining how to fix them.

Here are a few ways teachers can integrate coding into the core subjects, while also fostering important 21st-century skills.

Coding can help students visualize abstract concepts through concrete examples. They make sense of problems and persevere on a task. They can break down a problem into smaller parts to achieve the goal of solving the challenge.

Students apply logic, determine and understand variables, and develop algorithmic functions to solve coding challenges. It encourages them to think how they can create an algorithm of a series of steps to create a solution. Connections are then made to basic algebraic concepts.

Sample math applications:

  • Calculate the wait time needed in the program for the robot to travel a specific distance.
  • Determine the set score counters by evaluating how many times a loop will repeat.
  • Program a robot to specific coordinates on a grid and plot those points on a graph.
  • Code a robot to make different geometric shapes and patterns.

With coding, students can make hypotheses about how they expect their program to perform. They can plan an experiment and use trial and error to get their program correct. Students will also analyze data from different experiments and recognize patterns as they form.

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