With the lofty ambition of being the largest learning event in history, The Hour of Code 2017 is back and takes place next week, December 4th – 10th. Hosted by code.org, The Hour of Code week is an opportunity for teachers and students (Ages 4 and upwards) to try computer coding and in tow have opportunities that develop the skills required to approach coding problems. Now entering its 5th year, the Hour of Code movement continues to grow and so far has reached over and 100 million students worldwide, in more than 180 countries across 48 languages. Phenomenal take-up but there still remains pockets of reluctant coders out there. Why, you might ask?

Granted, detractors might argue that no one can learn to code in an hour but making this blatantly obvious argument is missing the whole point of the exercise, The Hour of Code is about exposing students to computer programming and demystifying a pursuit that is often seen as a male-dominated black art of sorts. The Hour of Code provides a myriad of bite-sized (hour long) child-centric activities for students to experiment with programming and game creation, ranging from structured lessons to more creative, exploratory activities, making coding accessible to all types of learners. Central to their design is to provide the virtual hook that will engage all learners. Once hooked, then you and your students can move Beyond the Hour of Code with code.org or further afield…with the following just a splattering of some of the resources out there; scratch.ie, Coding Across the Curriculum (Edutopia), Code Club, Raspberry Pi Education, Learn to Code – Microsoft Education, CS First – Google…

Besides the above argument, what else makes some teachers wary? In two words ‘Code Dread‘ (as coined by Terri Eichholz ) and those susceptible to same can have their reservations summarised under the following…

  • I don’t know how to do this
  • I don’t have time to learn how to do this
  • I can’t fit this into my curriculum

Valid concerns granted, but all Hour of Code activities are accompanied by video tutorials covering in detail the how-to, teachers just need to facilitate the learning. And, there’s nothing wrong with putting your hands up and admitting being code illiterate either. In fact once you acknowledge to yourself and your students that you too are learning, you free yourself to learn alongside them. Other simple steps you can deploy to put your students at the centre of the learning are; ensuring they work in pairs and mixing ability levels appropriately, encouraging discussion, promoting shared problem solving and cross-class sharing. And always remember you’re all in the same boat, any mishaps/mistakes along the way are part and parcel of the learning process.

So to the hitherto sceptical teachers out there, I hope the above has helped alleviate your coding concerns and you’re ready to try the Hour of Code? If the answer is YES? All you need to do is complete the Host an Hour registration (Before December 4th) and then follow the 7 steps at hourofcode.com/ac/how-to. That’s all there’s to it…So go on and give it a go? Who knows where it could take you…

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