Thursday, April 3, 2014

Learning how to code with Tynker

Students in my Bulldog Time group have been having fun learning how to create games and other animated products by learning the basics of computer coding.  They have been following pre-designed lessons from Tynker and viewing project examples from Scratch to learn coding language.

Tynker is a site created specifically to teach children programming language.  Teachers can sign up for a free account and assign different lessons to students that walk them through the basics of programming language.  While working through the lessons, students create their own products using the coding language discussed. After completing all of the lessons, students are free to explore and modify other student products or create something uniquely their own.

Scratch has a similar philosophy.  Created by the great minds at MIT, Scratch is a free site whose purpose is to enable students to think creatively by designing their own games and animations through computer programming.  They provide great resources for educators just getting started, including Scratch cards which walk students through the different codes required to create products that demonstrate different functions.

My students began their coding journey by viewing the different lessons in Tynker.  They were able to view videos and examples that applied the code being discussed in each lesson.

Once they completed the lessons, students began their own projects or modified an existing one.  The great thing about both Tynker and Scratch is that it doesn't require kids (or teachers!) to be experts in computer programming.  Students are able to "see inside" the code of any of the examples that have been published to either site.  They are free to use the codes created or modify the code to make the product their own.

Check out some of our students' products by visiting our Tynker Showcase.  Bulldog Time students used some basic coding principles to create some cool animations.  In the Wizard example, you will need to use the up and down arrow to make the animation work.  The panda game is controlled with the spacebar and the mouse.

This is just the beginning for our student coders!  More products will follow in our showcase as our students continue to create.

Why has teaching coding become so relevant and important to education?  In a world that continues to become more and more digital, learning code gives students another essential literacy.  It teaches them the logic behind the technology that they are using and gives them the power to be innovators and creators. Having this knowledge opens up new doors for their futures as 21st century jobs demand these skills and people who can think outside of the box.

I personally had very little to no background knowledge on how to apply computer programming before deciding to teach these concepts to students.  Both Tynker and Scratch have done the hard work for me and developed easy-to-follow lessons for the students.  Once engaged, students realized that learning code is relatively simple, and it can be used to make everything from simple animations to complicated apps and games.  I was able to follow along with the lessons and learn right along with the kids.

Students are so excited about what they are learning that a couple of them have asked if they could use Tynker to create a project for another class.  Using Tynker or Scratch to create a product using code would also be a perfect enrichment activity or a great tool for creating a review activity.  The ideas are really endless and cross any subject.  Check out the large libraries of projects already created using Tynker and Scratch by visiting their sites.

No comments:

Post a Comment