If you’ve never taught coding before, the thought of taking on an entirely new subject and teaching it to a classroom filled with technology-proficient pupils might be a daunting prospect. But coding is simply another language, one that gives you the power to communicate with technology, asking it to perform a variety of tasks and functions. Here are some top tips for teaching computing to help you learn as you go
Coding is a recent venture for everyone in the classroom. While a curriculum may guide you through the basics of what you need to teach, getting hands-on and experimenting with codes alongside your pupils is the most fun and effective way to get to grips with the subject. You can get involved with other teachers who are learning to code, through social media, communities and digital forums. There are huge numbers of teachers online who are sharing their experiences and advice, so it’s well worth joining these conversations.
One of the most important things to remember when coding is that when things go wrong, it’s not the end of the world – it can even be a good thing! A key component of coding is learning how to debug algorithms and commands so that they function properly, so even when things don’t work the way you’d originally hoped, your pupils will be learning from trial and error. Building this resilience is critical for your pupils too.
Connect the dots
Looking at coding from a cross-curricular point of view can also be helpful in making real-life connections. For instance, you could relate the co-ordinates used in mathematics and geography to computer codes. Much like a code, the data points work together as an instruction of where to find a specific location. Linking to instances of code being used in day-to-day situations can also help to spark your pupils’ imaginations. For example, have you ever thought about how traffic lights work? By pressing the crossing button, you’re effectively sending a command to the lights to change. Some crossings will even use sensors to determine how much traffic there is and whether it’s safe to cross.
With the amount of technology being used in all aspects of life, the opportunities presented by a knowledge of coding are multitudinous, and open-up the possibility to make new things all the time. Why not try asking your pupils what they would design if they could create a computer program for anything? You might be surprised by the different and exciting ideas they come up with! Perhaps a code to tidy your room when it gets too messy, or a program that helps you to choose which movie to watch? Who knows, maybe one day, they’ll be able to build it and turn it into a reality!
Getting hands-on with computing allows pupils to see the tangible results of what they’re writing on the screen. You could attach a light and sensor to the computer, so that when pupils place their hand over the sensor, the bulb illuminates, or perhaps use robotics to demonstrate a list of commands in sequence. Allowing pupils to build models that can be programmed to perform different tasks can be beneficial, as it brings together the real-life elements of computing with the benefits of cross-curricular learning. Using LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 or LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3, for example, you could build vehicles that move a specific distance depending on how long the code tells them to move, or a model that demonstrates a topic, like pollination in life sciences, or earthquakes in geography.
Coding is a fantastic subject for teachers and pupils alike; it’s relevant to real life, creative and can be a lot of fun!