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CS and Coding: Opening Doors & Expanding Possibilities

Looking forward to the #HourofCode & #HISDecoded this week, I plan to apply what I've learned recently in an excellent Houston workshop. The context of training emphasized the critical need for ALL students to have exposure and opportunities to learn computer programming. The study of computer science teaches a set of skills and develops habits of mind that can unlock doors and expand future possibilities for kids. It is foundational to so many careers and disciplines.

The world of coding also can build and strengthen critical thinking, problem-solving, and logical thinking patterns. Showing persistence in the face of failure and understanding the value of mistakes as part of learning are essential elements too.

Collaboration is key as kids work together to design animated graphics, apps, digital stories, and games. Check out these brief clips: What is Computer Science? and Pair Programming: Driver & Navigator Collaboration. provides a free differentiated curriculum and a series of courses and tutorials for kids as early as Kindergarten to engage with learning coding concepts. ‘Plugged’ lessons are paired with ‘unplugged’ lessons. ‘Unplugged’ lessons develop foundational coding concepts and vocabulary and are applied in ‘Plugged’ lessons which are online, self-guided and self-paced.

My k-5 classes are organized inside the ‘Teacher Dashboard’ to track their work. Our #HourofCode will extend beyond this week with lessons and continued learning experiences in weeks ahead as we move forward into 2015!

There are lots of mobile apps for coding projects, but I continue to work on collecting resources that are browser-based which work well on touch-screen laptops used with my classes. Here are a few thus far…


Brainpop: Computer Programming
BrainPop Game-Up: Code Monkey

Interactive Tutorials:

  • Scratch: [Getting Started]: Animate your name, create a holiday card, or make a pong game.
  • Tynker: Build your own games and share with friends! Solve fun coding puzzles and learn programming concepts in each level. Beginner: Candy Quest
  • Code Kingdoms: Progress from drag and drop to text based Javascript as you advance your coding skills.
  • Blockly: A series of educational games that teach programming designed for children who have not had prior experience. By the end of these games, players are ready to use conventional text-based languages.
  • BotLogic: an educational puzzle game that challenges kids to tackle complex logic problems while teaching valuable programming concepts. Using simple commands (and eventually code), players program their bots to navigate through progressively challenging mazes.
  • Turtle Pond: Guide a turtle to a pond using computer commands.
Course 1: Early Readers
Course 2: Beginning Readers
Course 3: Advanced (with previous courses completed)

Code with Anna and Elsa: Use code to join Anna and Elsa as they create snowflakes and patterns as when they ice-skate. Make a winter wonderland that you can then share.

Angry Birds: Drag and drop program with basic algorithms

The Foos: A kid-friendly way to learn about computer programming. Program characters to solve puzzles and bring a virtual world to life. The game is "word free" so all can play, even pre-readers!

Make an App:
Make a Flappy Game

(Create Your Own Game) Course 1
(Create Your Own Game) Course 2 + Course 3

Draw Something: Free Play

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