9 Tips for Teaching Coding in the Classroom
14 Feb 2018
10 minute read
A recent survey revealed that about 90% of parents yearn for their children to learn computer science and coding. Australian schools are planning to introduce the Digital Technologies curriculum in this respect. The principal motivation for this was the anticipation that these skills acquired would be necessary for jobs in the future. This anticipation is well founded, as computer and coding skills are increasingly becoming vital skills in the contemporary world.
As the world embraces a digital front, it pays if everyone has a grounding in computers and coding. Following recent statistics that only 32% of Australian students have been given the opportunity to learn how to code, schools have taken steps to teach their students necessary coding skills. Even so, some teachers are facing challenges as they try to impart this knowledge.
We recommend the following 9 tips that can be applied when undertaking coding education in the classroom:
Do Extensive Research
Coding has a lot of resources, either in print or digital. Teachers should leverage these resources and use them to conduct research. Code.org among others is one of the best websites that can be used. It provides comprehensive resources that give detailed information about coding and has been regarded as the gold standard in many coding circles. Besides, one can just do a basic search on the internet and find many articles that focus on coding. If at all coding education is to be done objectively, extensive research should be done in the first place.
Coding is an exciting subject. Many professionals who use it have their own opinions about what is the best practice. Therefore, if you are teaching coding to students, you should expose them to as many ideas, schools of thought and practices. To get the necessary exposure, conduct a peer review of coding. Ask around and see what other coding professionals are teaching. Subject your curriculum to peer review to get an objective analysis on the subject. You will get many ideas, opinions, and guidelines which can fine tune your knowledge. You will also affirm your assertions and gain new perspectives. Thus, ensure that you undertake peer review before you impart coding education to your students. It will go far in equipping them with diverse coding skills that have practicality in the real world. It will also add credibility to the curriculum such that authorities in the field will accept it.
Demonstrate Through Actual Practice
Education can never be as impactful if people don’t know how to apply it. Just like a thematic essay, they can be taught all the concepts, models, loops, variables, functions, etc., but all these can only have real value if they are demonstrated. If you are an educator, make a point of showing your students the real value of a lesson by demonstrating these concepts through actual practice. Take an editor and teach them how to code line by line. Use coding games so that they get to apply the concepts and learn practically. Australian kids can even join CodeCamp, a holiday camp that focuses on building programming skills. This way, the education received will leave an imprint on their minds.
Have a Growth Mindset
Admittedly, even teachers have challenges when trying to code. Everyone does, but this should not be a disincentive. As an educator, as much as you think that you’re not a 'computer person', it’s not that you’re not knowledgeable. You just need a change of mindset. Don’t cringe at the thought of teaching coding to your students. Don’t describe yourself as tech-averse. All these are defeatist mindsets that don’t add value to you or your students. Instead, embrace a growth mindset. Acknowledge that you are learning. That’s all it takes for you to educate others on coding. Let your students know that all of you are learning and all of you will end up gaining much from coding education.
Work in Groups
Working together is essential in all classroom settings. Educators should let their students work in groups. It is proven that this is an effective technique for learning. Students can get to help each other when they get stuck. They can also build their collaborative, and interpersonal skills while at it. They can even undertake problem-solving together. Ideal activities that could be considered for group settings include obstacle coding courses, STEAM exercise for coding, butcher papers, etc.
Join a Community
Coding contrary to its 'lone wolf' image has numerous online communities that help students learn to code. However, the great thing is that there massively supportive communities out there for educators too. These are professional coding platforms, meet-ups for coding enthusiasts, and so on. Educators can even connect to online coding fraternities. A good example is the Vidcode’s Educator Community. The power of connection is excellent and vital in the coding world. It enhances peer review and partnership which will have a positive impact on coding education.
Teach and Leave
Young children who are learning how to walk are always given the much-needed physical support. They are held by hand or given some walking aid until they are ready to walk. However, once they learn how to, they are left to walk by themselves. They may frequently fall and cry, but they will always get up and walk again. The same methodology needs to apply when imparting coding knowledge. Educators should give students the much-needed support but once the training is done, they should be left to practice on their own. They may struggle initially, but in the end, they will devise a way to conquer coding tasks.
Know Your Students
In any normal classroom, the capabilities of students vary. They learn and grasp concepts at different speeds. Therefore, due diligence should be done to ensure that the education program is conducive to both fast and slow learners. Cultivate the required patience where needed and use different learning techniques where appropriate.
Don’t Blow Your Trumpet
If you understand coding and are very good at it, it might be easy to show off. This is every expert’s Achilles heel. Don’t posture yourself as a demigod in front of your students; they know that you’re an expert. Instead, humble yourself and position yourself as a guide. This way, you can create the right environment to nurture, inspire and educate your students. Let everybody win and not just yourself. Coding can be a fun and exciting experience when the outlined tips are applied. Ultimately, they will enable all players to reach their desired goals in coding education in the classroom.
Kevin is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin & Google+.
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