Thing 17: Coding (2013 version)

(2014/15 workshop begins in November 2014. These older pages will remain, but look for updated versions and new topics as the workshop progresses.)


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 practice and learn. 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 explorer 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


The Hour of Code is a project of Code.Org with the goal of bringing programming to K12 and beyond. Their site includes lots of teaching and learning resources.

“It’s the closest thing we have to a superpower.”  Drew Houston – Dropbox

“90% of schools DON’T teach computer science” 

From Kodable – Grades and Skills

Coding Skills

Coding Apps & Activities

  • Kodable   This fun, easy to understand iPad app introduces programming skills to young children. Limited free edition, Pro edition $6.99.
  • 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)
  • 7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills  (also check out their Tech Chick Tips podcast episode “Code Monkeys” )
  • Coding, Coding, Coding – a Symbaloo list of resources from Shannon McClintock Miller.
  • More Coding Tools, Apps and Activities  – Polly’s Listly list of fun tools and lists of tools that I’ve come across

Libraries & Coding

General Articles


Try out a bit of coding yourself! Some ideas:

  • 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.
  • Or try one of the projects listed below.
  • Or draft some ideas for how you might incorporate a coding activity into a lesson/project/unit.

Write a blog post about what you did, link to projects you created (if possible), discuss what you think about including coding/programming in school.   Title your blog post for this week: Thing 17: Coding

LOG YOUR LESSON: Don’t forget to log your blog post when you’re done! When you finish this lesson by fill out the log form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.


  • K-8 Program Intro to Computer Science  Learn the basics of programming through simple building blocks. Fun! the Angry Birds maze example is great for young and old.
  • 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 my instagram photos to dropbox, send me an email on the first of the month to remind me to backup my blog, ring my 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.
  • Animate Your Name  and learn a bit of javascript.
  • About You – learn a bit of HTML and CSS to create a web page.
  • MOZILLA THIMBLE WEBMAKER  – learn some HTML and CSS the fun way. And create a project you can link to.
    • Keep Calm and Carry On   Make your own poster and learn a bit of html and css in the process
    • Movie Poster  – Try making a coming attractions book poster.
    • Meme Maker – swap in your own photo and text. Fun and easy:

Big thanks to Heather Braum for sharing a ton of articles and resources with me.


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