Whether you are new to computer science/coding or an experienced veteran we hope this break down of available resources inspires you and your students go beyond what you/they originally thought was possible. These are all sites that we use over the course of the year to teach the Moxie Girls the fundamentals of computer science.
We feel the that code.org has sparked the conversation worldwide about the importance of computer science being taught in our schools. If you haven’t watched this video “What Most Schools Don’t Teach,” please take some time and watch it. Code.org is an amazing resource that is mostly free that provides not only web based programming but also a slew of unplugged coding activities students can do without a computer. Code.org is an amazing resource for students from kindergarten all the way through senior year of high school. We encourage you to take code.org’s “Teacher Workshop.”
Scratch allows more freedom for students to create. Scratch comes from the minds of professors at MIT and when I say there is not limit to what you can do with scratch there is truly no limit for students. This is our favorite programming site for students and it is super easy for teachers to set up a teacher account. There are tons of books dedicated to Scratch and all that can be done with Scratch. Here is a great Ted Talk from Mitch Resnik about the inspiration for Scratch and teaching kids to code. The best thing about Scratch is that it is completely free!!!
Scratch Jr. also comes from the minds at MIT. Scratch Jr. is great for kids starting to learn how to code. It is an amazing resource for students starting in kindergarten learning about block based coding. Scratch Jr. also has an amazing app available for download that teachers absolutely love to use with primary students. All of Scratch Jr.’s resources are completely free!!!
Our advice to all educators diving into computer science is to purchase an education set of Spheros. It will without a doubt be the greatest investment you could ever make. We are absolutely in love with what you can do with Sphero. There are number of different apps you can use Sphero with. The students learn about the anatomy of a robot, how the to code the robot, and the teacher community is out of this world. Sphero is the best at what they do. Our girls loved playing tag with the Spheros, battle bots, conquering the obstacle course, and coding miniature golf. You will thank me later when you see how engaged your students are and what you are able to teach them with a little ball. Sphero just released the 12 Pack Ollie edition. Take our advice purchasing the Sphero Education Pack will be the greatest thing you purchase as an educator!!!
We are HUMONGOUS fans of Coder Dojo. They come from Ireland and have been leading the way in terms of providing free computer science curriculum. Recently they just teamed up with Google and Raspberry Pi to provide curriculum to teach people how to use Raspberry Pi’s properly. We are proud that we were the first Coder Dojo in the state of Arizona and currently the only Coder Dojo in the state. We use the Scratch Coder Dojo Ninja Cards with our girls all of the time. Coder Dojo is an amazing resource that provides instruction on how to learn all of the different computer science languages.
Kodu comes from our friends at Microsoft and it is provides the most unique gaming opportunity for kids to create visually stunning games. The best part is that these games can be played with an X Box controller. The Kodu Cup is HUGE in Europe and we haven’t figured out why it hasn’t taken off here in the states. The only downside to Kodu is that it needs to be downloaded so that can be a pain dealing with the IT department trying to get it approved. This is an amazing resource for students of all ages. They have tons of tutorials and curriculum to lead students through Kodu. This is an amazing program for beginners and advanced programmers.
Since the purchase of Minecraft EDU by Microsoft they have had the platform to get more and more Minecraft into schools all over the world. Microsoft just released a new coding plugin that allows teachers to have the students code as they play the worlds most popular game. We are huge fans of Minecraft and all of the collaboration it allows for students within the game. It is amazing what the teacher community has been able to create and the things students have been able to build in the game truly astonishes us. Minecraft is the ultimate computer science tool that builds on all of the soft skills (Creativity, collaboration, perseverance, & problem solving) that all major tech companies are looking for when they hire the top candidates.