“How can I teach kids coding if I don’t know how to code?”
A growing number of schools are now incorporating teaching methods that are more in line with STEAM education (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) as it has become clear that arts education makes learning more fun and keeps children more engaged.
According to AllEducationSchools, “STEAM aims to strengthen the foundation of STEM by helping students enhance their critical thinking skills and recognize the intersection of art, science, technology, engineering, and math.
“It gives students tools and methods to explore new and creative ways of problem-solving, displaying data, innovating, and linking multiple fields. The arts and STEM subjects naturally complement and inform each other, so implementing STEAM principles into education allows for more understanding, innovation and a cohesive education in the classroom.”
How can teachers approach this perspective change in regard to teaching and how are they going to teach a subject if they don’t know it that well?
1. Take the course you plan on teaching
Find a coding course either online or offline and start attending it.
We recommend teachers to think outside the box even when they’re preparing the lesson plan. Search for YouTube videos, articles, interviews about teaching coding to kids. Try to integrate the new concepts in a fun and engaging way, including examples, real-life situations, and a “trial and error” approach.
2. Connect with peers and share your fears
Usually, the best approach when dealing with a new challenge is to ask others how they approached it. Sharing fears, asking questions and discussing with other teachers might help raise ideas about the best practices that one can follow. At Shape Robotics, we encourage the teachers we work with to share their experiences with others and inspire them into starting to work with coding in the classroom. Their software is free, therefore you can try to explore it as first steps into coding.
3. Prepare a fun lesson & emphasize the importance of “trial and error” approach
The beauty of working with coding is that you get instant feedback about your work. Guide the students towards a more open approach, where there is no “right” way, rather they should focus on trying to fail and learn from their experiments. As Winston S. Churchill mentioned: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Moving on to planning the lesson. Where do you start?
Answer these 5 questions and get ready:
1. What types of computers will you be using?
If you have access to computers that are under 3-4 years old, you will have a lot of choices as far as curricula. If you have Google Chromebooks or older computers as your only option, you will likely need to use web-based curricula.
The most important thing that you do when evaluating curricula is to check its hardware and other technical requirements before you begin.
2. Will you have Internet access?
If you have Internet access you will be able to use any of the online curriculum resources available. If you won’t have internet access during the class, you can pre-download software Fable Blockly and use it to teach coding with or without a robot.
3. What is the age range of the students you’ll be teaching?
We recommend teaching kids of similar ages and levels of knowledge in coding.
Especially as a new teacher, you might be overwhelmed if you have a wide range of ages, and you won’t be able to provide the kind of personalized attention that you’ll need to.
4. How large should my classes be?
As a new teacher or club facilitator, we recommend that you keep learning groups small. You will likely need time to familiarize yourself with the issues that might pop up during your first run through the curricula.
If you are teaching elementary-age students, we suggest limiting the class size to 8-10 students at first. You can bump up class sizes as you get more comfortable with the curricula.
5. What are some examples of coding concepts that I will need to learn and understand?
There are several universal coding concepts that are found in nearly every programming language. Most of them will have slight changes in syntax, but the concepts are still easily understandable.
Here are two common concepts:
Conditional statements tell a computer program to run a segment of code based on whether a condition is true or false.
A loop continually executes a command while a condition is true, and discontinues the command when the condition is no longer true.
Do you also think about combining teaching coding with robotics? That sounds great! You can book a demo with one of our tech experts and learn all about how you can get started, Fable’s benefits for teaching and the importance of STEM skills in education!
Originally published by Shape Robotics