Combining coding with literacy into an approach known as story coding offers a wide range of benefits for students across all subject areas.

How this teacher uses story coding to spark creativity and collaboration

Combining coding with literacy offers a wide range of benefits for students across all subject areas

Among the biggest benefits to story coding? In Besthoff’s opinion, it’s how creative students have become.

“One of the main reasons I like story coding so much is that it lets my students become really creative–especially my female students,” Besthoff said. “They don’t always see themselves as programmers, computer scientists, or coders, as much as I stress people in history like Ada Lovelace, the first female programmer. Many of us, when we think about programmers, we think about men, so I want to make sure all my students know it’s available to all of them.”

Combining literacy with coding also helps student populations that may struggle with language, such as ELLs.

How does digital storytelling fit into computer science?

  • Encourages creativity
  • Gives all students a new way to communicate
  • Gives students who have a hard time writing a way to express themselves
  • Turns tech-savvy students into co-teachers
  • Boosts learning confidence
  • Creates a peer-centered learning environments
  • Helps ALL students advance
  • Creates a powerful exchange of information

Besthoff recommends story coding applications such as Scratch, Google’s CS First,’s Sprite Lab, Tynker, and Elementari.

Using’s Sprite Lab, an elementary school student created a digital story about battles in the American Revolution, in which users clicked specific buttons to see and learn more about soldiers. Through Scratch, a student shared a story about their summer vacation and prompted viewers to click through in an illustrated tour of a visit to a family farm.

Besthoff recommends assigning roles to students when they create a digital story in a group:

  1. Illustrator: Responsible for layout, design, and drawing the storyboard; chooses which sprites, backgrounds, sounds to use
  2. Writer: Writes the text that will be incorporated in the program, what the sprites will say, print blocks, and sprite behaviors
  3. Programmer: Responsible for entering the code in the program–this student will use the created storyboard to input the blocks in the code
  4. Debugger: Responsible for checking all spelling, making sure the code works, and ensuring the event timing makes sense
  5. Sound designer: Coordinates the voiceovers–this role can be combined with another role, or can be separate if groups are large enough

Laura Ascione

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