How to Start in Coding: No Fear!

I thought I would share more of my journey of coding for those that feel as I did at the beginning. I didn’t have a complete understanding of coding, how do I teach it. I cannot express enough:

You do not need to have a full understanding.

Remember when there was a standard in the curriculum that you had to teach, but did not have an understanding of? Did you teach it? Yes! I bet you did. Did you do a great job? You probably did the best you could the first year, then when you taught it the second year you were probably really good, and then the 3rd year it was fantastic. i wasn’t always a technology teacher, I have taught history and science classes in my past. I had a history credential but wanted a science credential to insure job security.  Anyway, without much background I crammed for a rigorous exam which in the state of California allows you to teach science. I read “The idiots guide to Chemistry” “Biology for Beginners” and “Dummies Guide to Physics” until I knew the books inside and out and yes, I did pass the CSET and got a job teaching 8th Grade Physical Science. The first year, I taught science, I was only a about a week ahead of the kids. I did the best job I could but i did take note of my weaknesses, though i don’t believe my students ever caught on. I taught through labs and spent hours preparing myself for my classes. After the first year, I had a much deeper understanding of what was required. I knew my weaknesses in teaching, I got support, I looked for resources and lab activities online, and the following year I was a much better teacher who spent less time preparing than before.  Believe me, the first time teaching chemical reactions was difficult, but I mastered the subjects mostly by teaching them 5 times a day….. but this is not a blog about my science journey…

I’m sure you get the picture. you have to begin somewhere. Do not feel you have to know Javascript. Honestly you do not! I suggest starting at Code.org. The first year you will learn with your class, in following years you will be more advanced than the class, and can start on another platform if you wish…

A couple years ago when I did Code.Org for the first time with my students, a few students got further on the levels than i did. I encouraged it, and those students helped struggling learners. The kids enjoyed the leadership. I learned that I didn’t have to have all the answers, and students were challenged. We did the “hour of code”, which honestly turned into a week of coding. Students earned certificates and then Code.org became what they did after they were done with work. For the rest of the school year it became a fun place to go if their work was done. They could either go practice their typing or work on coding. Many opted for coding. (Keyboarding is an important skill, but students keep up with that for homework as well as the 6-8 minute warm up in my class each day).

Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 4.21.19 PM

It wasn’t until a couple years later (December 2015), that I decided to go through all the levels of Code myself.

 Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 4.21.42 PM        Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 4.21.54 PM

Though I know the coding in Code.Org very well, Interestingly enough, I do not give my students much help. Honestly I give them less help now than I did when I was learning myself! It’s the challenge which will make them grow stronger. When they struggle I ask them questions. I want them to be challenged and figure out the answers themselves. It is not a race, the understanding is the most important part. Students are required to earn the hour of code certificate, but beyond that students go at their own pace. I will guide them along the right path, and if they get stuck, I will ask the correct questions until they figure it out. But they have to figure out the solution.

I firmly believe that all kids should have a coding background. it’s not just for computer programmers either. Students will need to market themselves in the future. If they decide to be a carpenter or a ballerina, having coding experience can help them create a program that could help them with their profession and market themselves for careers in their futures.

Watch this great TED talk by Christian Genco and wait for my next blog on Coding:



Categories: Coding

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