Coding Apps, Tools, and Resources That I Would Use If I Were Still in the Classroom

Back in 2001, when I started as a teacher, the technology boom was in its nascent stage. I remember toting a large bag filled with papers home most nights and going to sleep drowning under a vast sea of student homework that needed grading. My classroom was even worse, cluttered with books, manipulatives, globes, maps, and learning stations that left little room for anything else. However, as I write this in 2018, things have changed dramatically. Today’s teachers have edtech in their corners.

Digital teaching and learning tools have streamlined education processes and provide learning experiences that stretch far beyond the materials that were available for me back in 2001. When I was a teacher, the idea of teaching K-12 students to code was thought of as a waste of time. Who in their right mind would spend valuable instructional time on something that is not going to be assessed on the next big standardized test? Doing so probably would have gotten you a stern warning from your principal.

Nowadays, we fully understand the benefit of teaching students to code. Not only is it projected to be a coveted skill in the coming decades, but it also teaches students computational and problem-solving skills, which transfer to all academic subjects. Instead of teaching students to code on rudimentary computers with slow processing speeds, today we use computers with laser fast processing speeds. Also, coding apps can teach students how to code in step by step manner, without the aid of teachers. If I were still in the classroom today, I’d use these coding apps, tools, and resources:

codeSpark Academy: CodeSpark Academy is ideal for the younger set of children who want to begin their coding early. Kids will build up their skills using mini-games, challenges, and even caring for virtual pets. They will love the bright colors and illustration that allows them to start mastering these concepts.

Scratch: MIT has a free open network that allows students to create and share their coding work with others around the globe. They can create stories, games, and animations to help them share their vision with others using Scratch.

Gimkit – Gimkit is a browser-based tool that simulates a game show that requires students to compete against one another in a controlled classroom environment. Excellent performance is rewarded with coins that students can use in-game to buy utilities to improve their score. Students can compete in teams or against one another, connecting via game codes on any Internet-enabled device. KitCollab mode allows students to submit their questions before the game begins.

Learn to Code with El Chavo– For ages five through eight, Learn to Code with El Chavo is an interactive game to educate young ones about the world of coding. While developing critical-thinking skills and spatial reasoning, they develop knowledge about the logic behind computer coding. Computer coding and programming can be a hard concept to teach from a book or through a presentation. When learning through a game, children become their own teacher; they become self-reliant, but they can get assistance when needed. As a parent or teacher, you can learn alongside them as well.

Minecraft: Education Edition– This version of Minecraft will help you learn. Whether computer science, wilderness conservation, chemistry, coding, math, STEM topics, and more, you can learn educational topics the fun way. If you love Minecraft, you will surely love this version.

Tynker: This website is designed to teach children the rudiments of programming. It is a computing platform that aims to teach computational learning and programming skills in a fun way. Tynker is like Scratch from MIT. The platform is entirely browser-based, and it was written in Open Web standards which include, JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 but not Flash.

Daisy the Dinosaur: Do you want to get your youngest students started early with coding? Daisy, the Dinosaur, is quickly becoming a favorite among elementary students with her drag and drop interface that makes basic animation simple.

Tommy the Turtle: This educational game introduces your kids the basics of coding. The app has an interface that is easily operable by kids of all ages. It uses commands, sequences, and loops to make “Tommy the Turtle” move, dance, and sing on the screen. There are also “Tommy the Turtle” challenges that kids can solve to test themselves.

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