The ‘Hour of Code’ is an excellent initiative from the US which was first introduced in response to the lack of opportunities for school students to learn basic programming skills. The initiative, which has the support of a diverse range of public figures that includes; Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Malala Yousafzai, Richard Branson, Aston Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg, aims to ‘demystify the art of coding’ and expand student participation in computer science.
I’m not a computer science teacher but I appreciate the important of 21st Century learners being introduced to computer coding and Code.Org has some great tutorials that make coding exciting and assessable for students of all ages. The new Minecraft tutorial is a great place to start. It uses Blocky to introduce learners to the basics of computer code. Students use these blocks to program a Minecraft character to complete various tasks. Not only is the tutorial easy to follow and engaging but it also introduces learners to ‘commands’, ‘repeat loops’ and ‘if statements’, concepts which lie at the very foundations of computer programming. Once you’ve come to grips with the Minecraft tutorial they can move on to the Star Wars tutorial which allows students to create their own games and adventures. There is also a Frozen tutorial which encourages students to program Elsa to carve patterns by skating over the ice – a great activity for students learning angles.
Daniel Maxwell is a writer and educator.