A few seasons ago I attended a coding event hosted at the local Apple store. There wasn't a whole lot to the event, Apple employees helped participants work thru a Hour of Code module while in the store. It was well attended and organized, every participant received headphones and a certificate of completion. Overall, I thought the event was very successful and provided my first introduction to Code.org.
I all started with my absurdly early arrival to the Apple Store for a kids Coding Event. We had a full HOUR to spare while we waited for our time slot. I wondered around aimlessly for half the time of course because the store is magical but eventually of found myself on the Code.org website. Jackpot: I found a list of free workshops for educators that welcomed home educators. The SIX HOUR workshop I would attend later that week isdesigned to help educators understandhow to teach coding and how the website can help.
I wasshocked the event was even open to home educators. Usually they are not. And it was free. A FREE SIX HOUR TRAINING. Can't beat that. I walked in already impressed I will admit but the training itself was absolutely spectacular.
I can not say enough about how knowledgeable and professional our trainer was. I learned a lot about the resources the site makes available for teachers. There are complete lesson plansand what's called "mat/floor activities". These activities are designed to teach basic coding principles AWAY from the screen. We practiced teaching a concept to the group, then discussed the challenges we faced.
I felt very supported as an educator in the training and fully capable of teaching coding when I left the room, a far cry for the worried momma I was when I signed up. I am not unfamiliar with coding and I have tried teaching my son to code with a few coding websites and one great book but nothing has worked as well as Code.org because of the additional support the website makes available. The videos that are incorporated into modules are also great conversations starters because they showcase what real people do with their knowledge of coding, even if they end up becomingsomething else like a professional basketball player.
So far we have done exactly four floor activity andall have beensplendid. They felt like a little game the two of us were playing. We laughed and talked, it was slightly enchanted.
Some other benefits of the training: goodies and some Code.org pride. I am very much Team Code.org after the training. Participants spoke very highly of the organization and the founder. There was even a teacher there sporting Code.org gear he ordered. Yes, I was very impressed that he liked the organization enough to go and buy gear.
At this point in our coding journey Code.org is the right program for us because it is the most engaging for my son and supports me as an instructor because truth be told I had no idea how to teach this subject to him. I have tried other great programs that just haven't worked for us as well. Here is a list of a few programs (and two books) that we have tried. I put the books first because I like them both. The first book, I one I recently found at Barnes and Noble, is a workbook and I am currently obsessed it, I wish it was much bigger. Writing out code is invaluable especially for kids that are easily distracted once computers come on. The second it one that I liked and may return to in the future but it's not suitable for us right now.
DK Workbooks: Computer Coding (HIGHLY RECOMMEND)
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming
If you are not interested in a semi-formal/formal coding course there are about a zillion apps and webpages that have activities. Apartment Therapy has a great list. I am excited to see Sphero made this list. I have been wanting to test this out as a learning tool since the first time I saw it. That desire only intensified after checking out the webpage. Process with caution, this will jump on your must have list and if your anything like me that list is already long.