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5 Ways to Teach Programming Like The Hobbit

teach programming like the hobbit

Wait a second; I know what you are thinking.  What on earth does instituting a programming curriculum in your class or school have to do with The Hobbit? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot actually.

Venture Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Don't be afraid to embark on an adventureRecently, after reading the story of Aimee Morgan, a Stanford University Libraries archivist who first learned to computer program at the age of 35, I began thinking about how it is never too late to:

Begin something new, push aside all apprehensions, let down the sails, raise the flag, and set course on an epic adventure towards uncharted lands.

With that in mind, I am by no means encouraging you to walk out of your front door, commandeer the nearest vehicle, and embark on a quest to slay dragons (unless this has always been your goal).  I am, however, urging you to develop in areas outside of your comfort zone.  For many, this means teaching programming.

Bilbo would have jumped right into a programming curriculum if given the chance

In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is a small, eclectic, and reserved character that is reluctant to change his ways.  When initially presented with the opportunity to join in on a fantastical journey to regain the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo refuses, as this would force him into a world that he was neither prepared for nor felt comfortable in.  However, after spending some time soul searching, Bilbo ultimately opts into the quest, and becomes an integral part of an adventure that will forever be a part of hobbit lore.

Leap Into Programming
Take the first leap into programming

For many, integrating coding into your classroom lesson plan or school curriculum requires this type of “Bilbo moment.”  Like our favorite protagonist, many educators often harbor feelings that computer science and technology is part of a world in which they are simply unprepared for, or to which they do not belong.  However, based on the teachings of The Hobbit, and from personal experience talking to teachers using Kodable, the hardest part of integrating technology and programming into the classroom is, like anything else, just taking that first step.  When speaking with educators who are considering making the leap towards a programming curriculum, but are still hesitant, I often cite the following quote:

“Never be afraid to try something new.  Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”

Programmers can read, write, and understand code, but teachers know best how to translate this material to their students in a language that they can grasp, and most importantly, engage with.  Certainly, some programming knowledge is always helpful, but introducing the fundamentals of coding, and showing students the amazing things that they can do with code is something that every teacher can understand.

Utilize your strengths when teaching codeFlex Your Muscles

As hard as it is to believe, not having a background in computer science or programming can often be your greatest asset.  In The Hobbit, Bilbo’s lack of survival training and inexperience in battle became his most useful tools, and led him to find the ring, save the dwarves, aid in defeating Smaug, and recover the Arkenstone.  On the other hand, the dwarves stubborn reliance on their combat training often get them in trouble, allowing Bilbo to introduce creative solutions.

The beauty of learning to code is that you can use the skill in any industry you find interesting.We need diverse programmers  More than anything, computer science needs artists, fashion designers, or those with a passion for social justice.  Showing students that you can use code in every subject from English to environmental science will help prepare a generation of young students for the challenges of the 21st century.  Coding to solve problems shows students how they can use computer science to help make our world a better place to live.

Don't be afraid to let go of your fearsDon’t Be Afraid to Let Go

In The Hobbit, Bilbo was forced to let go of his fears and reservations.  He let his natural instincts and talents lead him to greatness.  Don’t be afraid to let go of your students, and allow them to become immersed in programming.  Great programmers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates taught themselves to code.  You can facilitate your student’s coding education by encouraging them, but you don’t need to have all the answers.  A programming curriculum like Kodable engages students so they can get started with programming education on their own.  So, what do students need most?

They need you teach them innovation, and help them understand how they can creatively apply, utilize, and further their programming talents.

Make Lifelong FriendsBilbo made lasting friends, and you can to when you begin teaching programming

Bilbo did not make his journey alone, but had great friends help him along the way.  You do not need to be alone in your journey either.  When we started Kodable, there were very few people teaching kids to code.  We started a biweekly Twitter Chat called #KidsCanCode to be a community for people to talk about programming education.  There are dozens of teachers who join regularly to talk about struggles and triumphs of creating their own programming curriculum.
Join a community of programmersOnce Bilbo established that he was fully committed to his journey, he never once regretted his decision to leave his comfortable home in the Shire.  Instead, he relished the friends that he made, the experiences they shared, and the positive impact that his actions had on his surrounding community.  Similarly, I promise you that your decision to introduce a programming curriculum in your classroom or school is one that you will never regret.

Why Should We Teach Programming?

Are you on the fence on whether or not you should introduce a programming curriculum next school year?  The easy answer is that you ABSOLUTELY should!  But, for those who are not as easily convinced, we have put together a list of the top 10 reasons why we believe coding should be taught to every child. 🙂

The images included here are also part of a PowerPoint you can use to help explain the value of programming to fellow educators, parents, and students.

Reasons to Begin Programming:

Reason #1

Programming Help Wanted!  We NEED more young developers to help program all of the flying cars we will have in the future!

Not enough programmers

Currently, students and adults with programming abilities are a hot commodity, and all signs suggest that there will be an even higher demand for their abilities in the future.  Just to be completely sure, I consulted my Magic 8-Ball and asked, “Will there be more opportunities for Computer Science Students in the future?”  The answer? “Without a Doubt.”  If you don’t believe in magic, allow some more of these statistics convince you.

Computer science is America's untapped opportunity

As our world continues to turn to technology more and more each day, it becomes increasingly critical for students to possess a programming education.  Not every student needs to become a computer programmer.  However, statistics demonstrate that a background in computer science will be an enormous asset for the future in ANY field.

Reason #2

Millions of kids are already coding and creating amazing things at this very moment.  Estonia, China, Britain, and other countries require every student to be introduced to coding.  Sometimes, peer pressure can be a positive thing!

Kids are already coding

Reason #3

Like many basic skills, it is best to start teaching children to code while they are still young.  Trust me, they will thank you later!

Learning early benefits students

Amazingly, Child Development Research demonstrates that children can learn the fundamentals of coding before they can even read!  While programming may seem enormously complicated to many adults, similar to a foreign language, kids can absorb and retain new information at an amazing pace.

Learn to code before you can read

Additionally, the skills that young children pick up through practicing basic programming skills will help them in a wide variety of subjects.

Advantages of coding in elementary school

Reason #4

Programming is like an easygoing friend that gets along with everyone.  Always flexible, coding can be integrated into a variety of different subjects.  And the best part?  Programming can help serve as a bridge to connect students to their community.  Just take a look at the East Palo Alto Chica Squad below.

Integrate coding in any school subject

 

East Palo Alto Chica Squad:

 

Reason #5

Coding can also be used to satisfy a number of CCSS standards, providing you with an engaging, valuable, and easy way to fulfill curriculum requirements!

Meet common core standards with programming

Reason #6

Quick True or False question: “Programmers are anti-social and only interact with computers.”

FALSE!  Programming is an extremely social activity, and encourages students to work together in order to plan, develop, and problem solve.  Just ask any class that has practiced Pair Programming!

Coding encourages collaboration

Reason #7

As a child, I used to wonder what it would be like to possess a superpower.  Little did I know, all I had to do was learn how to code, and I could have an impact on the world around me!  Don’t just teach children how to interact with technology, but educate them on how to create with technology.

Computer programming empowers students

Reason #8

Can I trust you to keep a secret that might anger a few professional programmers?  Are you ready?  Coding is not THAT difficult!  Phew, I said it.  Seriously though, anyone can learn or teach basic computer programming skills with a little effort.  Join in the growing community of educators teaching kids to code.  We have a bi-weekly Twitter Chat called #KidsCanCode where you can share or learn from others teaching kids about coding!

Teachers can teach coding without experience

Reason #9

Learning to code increases the ways in which children can express themselves and pursue their passions.  Watch how Miral Kotb worked to create her dream job with code!  You can watch her amazing story below.

Coding is creative

 

Miral Kotb’s iLuminate:

Reason #10

The best time for kids to start coding is now! Let’s create a better world together!

#kidscancode and are coding everywhere

Download the Why Programming PowerPoint Here!

 

More questions on getting started with coding?! Contact me: neal@kodable.com

 

 

Infographics provided by NowSourcing

nowsourcing-logo-1

How You Can Change Programming Education

Empower students and start programming

Why teach programming? Odds are you already know how important it is to learn to code. But just incase you don’t remember the importance of programming education, I’ll recap.

Programming is the language of the future. By 2020 there will be twice as many programming jobs as there will be programmers. Programmers are needed in every industry in every part of the world, and the demand is only going to increase.

Programming job opportunities for the future

Learning to code teaches you how to think. When you program you use deductive reasoning, logic and problem solving skills that are necessary for everyone to learn.

It is incredibly empowering. You can literally build anything you can imagine. Just ask Zora Ball. She made an iPad game when she was in the 1st grade and now it is in the app store where millions can download it.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, take a look at this video from Code.org and get back to me.

Despite all of this, only 10% of schools in the United States offer programming classes.

What is stopping people from teaching kids programming?

Since we started working on Kodable, I’ve consistently heard from teachers who want to teach programming, but don’t have time. They can’t fit it into their already packed schedule because it’s not required. Programming is only required in a handful of countries, and until it is required in the US, good teachers have to find ways to incorporate it in the limited amount of time they get.

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A lack of resources often prevents schools from teaching programming. Unfortunately, many still view programming as something unknown or scary. This means there are a limited number of people with the knowledge of when and how to teach it. Many schools lack the technology to teach programming, and are’t receiving enough funding to get it.

How can we change this?

One of the greatest changes for education in the past five years is the increase in connected educators. Teachers, administrators, parents, and others have developed relationships with other educators all around the world by connecting online. A community has developed for nearly every sector in education. When you connect with other educators online and develop relationships, you can begin to collaborate, share ideas, and support one another.

We propose creating a community for programming education. I want a place online for great educators like you to connect with others, chat about victories, hurdles, and solutions, and feel empowered to teach kids programming. At 8 pm EST we will host a twitter chat using the hashtag #KidsCanCode. The object of this chat is to build a community of programming educators to increase awareness and collaboration. Each week we will discuss new programming education topics that effect the community.

Join me every other Tuesday at 8PM EST for #KidsCanCode twitter chat.

Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code

Thinking of teaching kids to code or planning a coding curriculum? At Kodable, we believe coding is a huge part of every kids future. Here are 5 reasons we think it coding is so important!

Here are the best reasons to teach kids to code

Enroll in a Kodable Education Plan to teach kids to code today!

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