Thing 13: Coding


Skills Students Learn from Coding
Skills Students Learn from Coding

Coding? Huh? I’m no coder…. Yes, you are! Have you ever faced this sort of situation:

“What’s my best route to get across town in rush hour traffic, stop at the grocery store and get home in time to go to the gym?” Making that happen involves identifying problems, choosing paths, making decisions and “if this, then that” logic. Guess what? Coding uses all those same skills.

Coding and programming help develop logic, decision making and problem solving skills. Skills that students need to learn and practice. Skills that we as adults need to keep tuned up. Learning about coding can also help build confidence and help us understand the technology world around us.

Are we all going to learn enough to launch the next Mars mission? Maybe not. But we can all learn more about how web pages work, learn how to create simple games, understand how mobile apps work and more. And by helping students learn these skills, maybe we will have a hand in the next Mars mission!

I asked Facebook and Twitter friends “why coding matters”, some responses:

  • “Coding is creative problem solving and higher level thinking.” Jan Tunison, Scotia-Glenville High School
  • “To help them learn through failure, trial and error, through process, through doing, through asking questions, through putting things together, through searching skills (to get help online), to build curiosity, to build new skills, to better understand systems that run so much of the world today, to not be so fearful of technology.” Heather Braum, NE Kansas Library System
  • “My son has been using hopscotch for a while- trying to teach him to be a creator not just a passive user of tech – loves it!” Melinda Grey, Arlington CSD
  • “Reading code and understanding it can level the playing field and conversations w developers and support vendors w software. They may listen and respect you more if you have a small working understanding at the very least of what the code is trying to say” Heather Braum, NE Kansas Library System
  • And here’s a list of some of the Coding posts from previous Cool Tools workshops. Interesting to see what people created and their reactions.

Have fun exploring some of the resources and tools below. As always, you don’t need to do everything! Take a look at the Learning Activity section below and pick something fun to explore.


The Hour of Code is a project of Code.Org with the goal of bringing programming to K12 and beyond. “The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. One-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.

Hour of Code week is Dec 5-11, 2016 but you can hold an hour of code event any time! Learn more about what schools are doing for Hour of Code week.

Their site includes lots of teaching and learning resources.

Change The World – Hour of Code 2015:

How to run an Hour of Code: (How To Guide for Educators)

From Kodable – Grades and Skills


Libraries, Schools & Coding

Coding Apps, Activities, Clubs

  • Hour of Code Minecraft Game – Hour of Code’s added a new Minecraft themed activity for 2015.
  • Building a Galaxy with Code – A new Star Wars Hour of Code activity.
  • Hello Ruby – Younger children will enjoy these activities exploring computers, programming and technology. The book Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding would be a good accompaniment to these activities. Check out this adorable video of a little girl talking about the Hello Ruby book and building a computer.
  • Coding for Kids Revisited – Coding apps for ages 5-11 from the Tech Chicks.
  • Google CS First
    CS First is a free program that increases student access and exposure to computer science (CS) education through after-school, in-school, and summer programs. All clubs are run by teachers and/or community volunteers.
  • Google Made With Code – “Made with Code is an initiative to champion creativity, girls, and code, all at once. The movement is designed to do three things: To inspire girls by celebrating women and girls who are using code to do great things; to engage girls to try coding through introductory projects and resources; and to sustain their interest by creating alliances and community around girls and coding.”
  • Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level – Kindergarten to Middle School
  • Jewelbots – Programmable Jewelry
  • Crunchzilla Code Monster – play with Javascript
  • Kodable This fun, easy to understand iPad app introduces programming skills to young children. Limited free edition, Pro edition $6.99.
  • Blockly Games – Sets challenges and uses building blocks to run games. Tasks start out simply and build in complexity. Fun!
  • Flappy Bird – Uses simple building blocks to create a game that keeps flappy bird from crashing.
  • Hopscotch – This iPad apps uses the building blocks approach to help kids learn to program. Fun and easy to use.
  • Scratch – Popular service from MIT. Uses a building block approach to teach kids (and adults) about programming. Build games, stories, animations and more. Search and you’ll find lots of information about using Scratch in Libraries. (eg; I am Obsessed with Scratch from Sarah Ludwig)
  • IFTTT – (if this then that) – This is a handy service that lets you connect different resources & tools you’re already using and “make them do things.” eg: send your instagram photos to dropbox, send an email on the first of the month to remind you to backup my blog, ring your phone at 2:30 (great way to end
    a meeting you know you’ll want to end early). By constructing these “recipes”, as IFTTT calls them, you’re doing some basic coding. Check out the channels (tools) you can use and browse the recipes.
  • Things/Toys
    • Ozobots – These fun little robots will provide hours of fun activities. Check with your School Library System to see if they have a set to loan.
    • Osmo Coding Set – If you have an Osmo game kit, you can now add a coding game set. Fun for younger (and older!) students. Read more from Andy Plemmons.
  • Clubs

    • Rails Girls – Worldwide events for girls and women. All resources are open-source, so you could hold your own Rails Girls event. Or use some of the activities with your teen coding clubs.
    • Girls Who Code – After school and summer programs for girls. There are several clubs in NYS. If there isn’t one near you, start your own!
  • More:


Step 1: Try out a bit of coding yourself! Some ideas:
(you don’t need to do them all!)

  • Try some of fun activities from the Hour of Code project website or any of the other tools and resources you’ve come across while exploring this lesson.
  • Create some useful “recipes” with IFTTT.
  • Draft some ideas for how you might incorporate a coding activity into a lesson/project/unit.
  • Search for some additional articles and resources on coding and reflect on what you’ve read.
  • If you decide you want to participate in the Hour of Code, you could wait till that week is over and write up how it went.

Step 2: Write your blog post and include:

  • Note what you read, watched and created.
  • Embed or link to projects you created (if possible).
  • Discuss what you think about including coding/programming in school.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.


(updated for 2016/17 on August 1, 2016)









4 thoughts on “Thing 13: Coding

  1. This lesson was SO interesting! I am an itinerant related service, but would love to find a class that I push into that would be willing to try the hour of code next time. Could I do the hour of code with just a small group of students? Does the time need to be all in one session?

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