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Celebrate Hour of Code with these activities and resources

Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science and has grown into a weeklong event involving millions of people from around the world. Many organizations, from Disney to Khan Academy, have joined Code.org to offer activities centered on coding and computational thinking.  

The event, which kicks off today and runs through Friday, recognizes the birthday of "Amazing Grace," an American computer scientist who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages.

One of my favorite quotes is from Hopper herself: "I've always been more interested in the future than in the past." What a fitting statement to describe the Hour of Code as it inspires our future with the wonders and possibilities of computer science.

On that note, here are some of my favorite lessons among the more than 200 activities that are free to everyone on the Hour of Code and partner websites.

Santa Tracker. Just in time for the holidays, these Google activities allow students to code a snowflake, track Santa using Google maps and more. New activities and lessons unlock throughout the month of December and are connected to subject areas such as computer science, geography, social studies, and language.

Moana. This activity, based on the popular Disney movie Moana, uses loops, conditionals and more to wayfind with code and help Moana and Maui on their adventure. At the end, students can get creative and code their very own Kakamora warrior dance using the dance blocks that they have learned.

Unplugged activities. For those with no computers or devices, it is still possible to teach computer science concepts using unplugged activities. Learning these computational thinking concepts allow students to engage with and understand algorithms, programming, binary, and more — all without the computer.

Coding with robots. These Hour of Code activities offer tutorials for Hummingbird, Finch, Dash and Ozobots. You’ll find more than a dozen lessons for various grade levels.

These are just a smattering of the rich activities available on the Code.org site, which allows you to search by grade level, teacher experience, student experience, classroom technology (Android, iPad, no computers and more), topic (science, math, social studies, language arts, art/media/music or computer science only), activity type (self-led tutorial or lesson plan), length and language (blocks, typing or other). Recolor the universe with Pencil Code, code a geometry jumper, create music with Scratch, or even code the news.

In addition to these activities and lesson plans, there are a lot of other general resources at Code.org and elsewhere. Here are some of my favorites:

How to Run an Hour of Code. This slideshare offers best practices for running a successful Hour of Code event. 

Supporting Special Needs Students for Hour of Code. This document provides invaluable information to make the Hour of Code experience accessible to all students.

Computer science curriculum. Ready to go beyond the Hour of Code? This table compares elementary, middle and high school computer science curricula. You’ll find a description of each organization and their curricula as well as any professional development they offer along with any associated costs.

Made with Code. This Google site showcases some great projects made with code. Students can learn how to design a customized emoji, light up a dress and even create a coded design to stand for a global issues.

With all the planning and organization that goes into hosting an Hour of Code event, I’ve found that the most important thing is to have fun coding myself and to learn along with my students.  

It’s all about building community and inspiring students with the possibilities that making with code brings. To build community, it’s great to introduce students to pair programming, and inspire students with one of my favorite videos, which highlights how computer science is changing everything.

As an added bonus, the activities listed here help students develop the skills necessary to meet the Computational Thinker and Design Thinker standards within the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students

For more resources on how to get involved, use the hashtag #HourOfCode on social media and then go to the promotion to find templates for emails, letters, stickers, posters and flyers to print off to celebrate the Hour of Code in your communities.

Never underestimate what one hour of coding can do to inspire a student! During my very first Hour of Code, a high school senior had so much fun that she ended up selecting computer science as her major when she entered college in the fall!

Janice Mak is a Code.org affiliate and Rasberry Pi Certified Educator from Phoenix, Arizona. When she is not having fun during her day job as a teacher-on-assignment, she enjoys training K-5 teachers in the Computer Science Fundamentals, 6-8 teachers integrating computer science into science, and advocating for equity and access to computer science. You can read about her adventures in teaching and learning at her supercodingpower.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter @jmakaz.

Find more articles about implementing coding in your school or classroom on the EdTekHub.


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