There are many options for learning the foundational skills of coding. Unplugged, plugged, and physical computing activities are all options for exploring early programming. These activities can be integrated into subject areas or serve as stand-alone computer science units, but either way are connected to the Core Competencies of Communication, Thinking, and Personal & Social.
Teachers have been engaging students in activities that support computational thinking skills for many years. The four areas of computational thinking are Algorithmic Design, Decomposition, Abstraction, and Pattern Recognition. Reflect on what you already do in your classroom and see if you can shift how you talk about these activities to include vocabulary and concepts of computational thinking.
Check out these websites for lots of great unplugged activities that support computational thinking:
|Teaching London Computing
|Great ideas to use or to inspire; some printables and teacher guides; check out the Kriss-Kross puzzles for logical thinking, or Algorithmic Doodle Art!
|Hour of Code by code.org
|Filter by choosing “No computers or devices” and grade–there are many activities such as Colour By Pixel, or Conditionals with Cards
|Some elementary mini-unit plans about topics such as Binary Numbers; also check out the original site here. A favourite activity is Marching Orders–I like to share this Josh Darnit video about exact instructions
|Canada Learning Code
|Try A Bug in Our Sequence (primary) or Baking with Algorithms (intermediate); The Code’s the Thing (growth mindset) is for any level
|Based on the books of the same name, this resource offers unplugged, creative and playful approach to introducing computer science to primary learners.
Some of these resources will offer scope & sequence and some will be more à la carte. A couple notes for using these resources:
For the resources that feature a teacher account with linked students, be sure to use only first names or “code names” when adding students to your class, as these accounts sit on servers outside of Canada.
Even though many of these resources offer tutorial-based activities, it is important to guide students on their coding journey. Just as you teach to math or writing or social studies concepts, there are teacher guides and lesson notes that will support you in teaching coding. While exploration is an important part of the process, it should not be a free-for-all. Staying focused will help you assess the learning.
|Courses for K-12 students; teacher account with linked student accounts; dashboard to view student progress; lesson plans
Teachers have access to three free coding courses. Each course has a variety of lessons, and within each lesson there are a sequence of activities. There are also weekly challenges that can be assigned. Teacher dashboard provides overview of student progress.
|Intro to CS with MakeCode for Minecraft, MakeCode Arcade, suitable for upper intermediate to secondary learners
|Minecraft Education Edition
|MEE is accessible to all Burnaby O365 users; built-in CS lessons within the app. Find more information here.
|À la Carte
|Hour of Code
|Filter by subject area, grade level, activity type, language; activities are created to take about an hour; tutorial-based, teacher notes
Physical computing is when we get to see our code come alive through hardware! Learning can even extend to creating code to tackle real world problem solving. These resources are available through the Learning Tech team or through the DLRC.
|A micro computer for learning about how software and hardware work together. Book through Amanda at Learning Tech
|It’s a ball, it’s a robot, it’s a lot of fun! Find lessons and activities here. Kits are available through the DLRC.
|These little bots are best for K/1 learners; they come with maze mats and control cards; there is also an online emulator. Great for connecting to story workshop–where will your BeeBot go today? Book through the DLRC.
|Lego WeDo 2.0
|App on school iPad, and WeDo kit from DLRC. Students follow instructions to build a structure, and use block coding to write a program to make it move (i.e., windmill).