Hour of Code 2016: Unplugged to Fully Connected

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image: Code.org
Image: Code.org

Hour of Code 2016 is rapidly approaching. This year, Computer Science Education Week will be celebrated from December 5-11. With this in mind, many teachers and parents are planning in class activities that will help engage students and foster a love of skills needed for the future. Hour of Code has become such an international educational phenomenon that many free resources have spawned. For those who want to incorporate coding as part of their classroom lesson but feel overwhelmed by the topic, the Hour of Code website is the perfect resource.

The official website for Hour of Code offers multiple resources. Whether homes or classrooms have computers in them or not, the Hour of Code website will help find a lesson plan appropriate for everyone’s resources and their experience levels. Teachers and parents can sort activities by grade, educator experience, students experience, classroom technology (including none), and other categories.

Unplugged: One of the best aspects of the Hour of Code website is that it provides so many options. For instance, the “no computers or devices” category has lessons for prereaders that show them how “loops” (repeated instructions) can be taught through dance.

For hours with a STEAM twist that incorporates English Language Arts standards into their Hour of Code, the Kodable project for Kindergarteners gives a lesson that helps show the way in which word sequence leads to comprehension.

Middle school teachers can find lessons that teach the basics of algorithms and conditional statements using decks of cards. High school teachers can find the HexaHexaFlexagon Automata Activity that teaches how algorithms can lead to different outcomes depending on the order of the directions.

image: Code.org
image: Code.org

No Internet: For teachers who have access to tablets but no internet, the website links to Tynker, a company that offers a downloadable app for Apple or Android. Tynker offers a multitude of options for educators that incorporate coding curriculums but also some specific to Hour of Code 2016. Their mission is to help create a curriculum that allows adults not savvy with code a way to teach it. As such, they offer lesson plans complete with answer keys and have standards alignments to help integrate common core into the lessons.

Image: Tynker
Image: Tynker

With Internet: For those with internet connectivity, the possibilities for Hour of Code 2016 are endless. Many of larger names in entertainment have Hour of Code activities available all year long but that they advertise specifically for Computer Science Education Week. For teachers and parents who feel that branded activities will engage children more, LEGO, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Disney, Cartoon Network, and a plethora of others have activities available.

However, for those who want to find something that creates a value add, a few other options stand out. Most notably, Tynker’s Bill of Rights activity incorporates civics into the STEM lesson which can help kids who trend towards the humanities feel less overwhelmed. In addition, for teachers who work in diverse systems, the default character is a male person of color.

Overall, resources abound for teachers and parents using the Hour of Code 2016 website because it gives a large sense of customizability in terms of what can be put together based on the resources available. Teachers and parents shouldn’t feel as though a lack of classroom resources keep them from engaging in the activities nor should they feel overwhelmed in searching for activities that meet everyone’s needs.

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