Monday, November 17, 2014

Promote Critical Thinking - Have Your Students Participate in the Hour of Code

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer…. because it teaches you how to think.”  - Steve Jobs

Anyone can code. I’ve even seen students as young as 5 years old coding. Coding teaches valuable critical thinking skills and is used in every field, not just computer sciences, math, or science.  

The Hour of Code is coming up, and it is a great chance for you to introduce your students to code in any subject area.  You can help your students build critical thinking skills and take away their fears about coding.

Statistics from Computer Science Education Week
  • By 2020, 1 million computing jobs will be unfilled (adding up to $500 billion in salaries).
  • More than 50 percent of all projected math and science occupations are in computing occupations.
  • Computing occupations are among the highest-paying jobs for new graduates. Yet fewer than 3% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science.
  • Fewer than 20 percent of AP Computer Science students are women. Fewer than 10% are Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino.

Guest Bloggers
Brian Ellis, a physics and computer science teacher from Carlmont, and Karyn Voldstad, a math and computer science teacher, also from Carlmont participated in the Hour of Code last year with their math and science classes.  They both helped write this blog post to introduce you to the Hour of Code and encourage you to try it out with your students.

What is the Hour of Code?
It’s a national event to excite students about Computer Science. Students of all experience levels can choose from a variety of self-guided tutorials, which last less than an hour. You don’t need to know anything about coding to do it with your class.

When is it?  
The Hour of Code is Dec. 8-14, 2014. You can pick one day that week and do it with one of your classes or all of your classes. It doesn’t take the whole week, just one class period.   

Why would any teacher (not just computer science teachers) participate in Hour of Code? It’s a great opportunity for all your students to get a taste of coding. Learning to code helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity. It also opens the way to lucrative careers. These activities are geared for success and are very game-like. Erin Lucett, a current Intro to CS student at Carlmont, says “I would definitely encourage teachers to have their students participate in the hour of code this year because it gives them a glimpse of what computer science is like and they may be able to see that coding is actually fun. Students would greatly benefit from the hour of code because it requires them to use problem solving skills to create a code that will do what they want.”

What classes did you have participate last year?
Math, physics and other classes participated at Carlmont last year. Many of those students decided to take Computer Science classes the following year.

What did students think about participating in the Hour of Code last year?
They loved it! Kids who might normally lose confidence in technical subjects were truly engaged. Eden Ricci, who participated in 2013 with her Carlmont physics class, recalls “I did enjoy the Hour of Code last year. It was my first introduction to computer programming and got me interested in taking the computer science class and learning more. It was not as confusing or complicated as I had expected it to be, more fun too.”

What does a teacher need to do to participate?  
It takes very little to participate. Ideally you schedule your class in a computer lab or use a technology cart with Chromebooks or iPads. All you need is a browser. There’s even a version that can be done without computers and one that can be done on phones. It is all prepared for you. Just check out the link at and choose a tutorial. The default tutorial called “Write your Own Computer Program” is excellent, but so are many others. You can do it any day, with all your classes or just some of them.

Here are some tutorials on coding with great information on how to do this with your class.

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