National Coding Week: what are your go-to resources when teaching programming for the first time?

Primary computing lesson

Welcome to the second in our series of #NationalCodingWeek blogs offering tips for teaching programming. Before launching into the ‘how’ of computer programming, it might be worth taking some time to explain ‘why’.

Children are massive consumers of technology, rather than producers. This means they might miss the fact that everything a computer does has been programmed.

To address this, Bradley Dardis suggests showing your students an explanation video from Nina and the Neurons. The video leads smoothly into programming movement on a BeeBot.

Another resource to help your students is algorithm cards. Martin Caddy uses algorithm cards to work through instruction sequences before switching on the computers. These are a great way to work away from computers whilst still developing your students’ knowledge of how computers run.

The firm favourite first programming tool is Scratch. There are bucket-loads of teaching resources for Scratch, including the excellent Barefoot computing. Scratch Jr, micro:bits and toys such as Sphero are also very popular first steps.

Miles Berry suggests using a range of platforms that suit different-aged learners such as introducing Snap! for students learning to code at secondary school.

He also highlights the ways in which Scratch can be extended by tackling deeper projects such as fractals, sort algorithms and so on. Ben Hall recommends making a break from Scratch and bringing the fun with Erase All Kittens.

Upper-primary and secondary learners might also enjoy Mozilla tools such as X-Ray Goggles, allowing them to remix the web, according to CAS Master Teacher Matt. It’s worth noting that HTML isn’t a programming language, rather a markup language. While the distinction is becoming increasingly blurred it doesn’t satisfy the key stage 3 requirement for text-based programming.

More from this series…

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