Minute 61: What Happens After the Hour of Code?

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Minute 61: What Happens After the Hour of Code?

By Jed Stefanowicz

The Hour of Code and CSEd Week have come and gone. Now what? 

Part of the danger of such a spotlight is the shadow it casts on the rest of the year. Teachers have tweeted, students have coded, and certificates have been printed, but how can we foster sustained interest and engagement in computer science after the Hour of Code?

First, we need to remember that computer science is much more than coding. While the activities within Hour of Code offer a taste, educators can use that momentum and interest to create expanded hands-on opportunities for students to explore hardware and computing systems, algorithms, data structures, and web development. Students can explore new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

While CSEd week and Hour of Code can highlight or initiate foundational skill-building, educators can explore software that extends the learning launched in Hour of Code, and the projects highlighted in CSEd Week resources.

Here are 12 ideas for continued CS learning and exploration:

•Embed the components of computer science and computational thinking in real-life situations, and across content areas. Student engagement increases when there are authentic applications of computer science skills to solve real world problems, design apps, create websites, or analyze data. 

•Facilitate student-designed websites to demonstrate learning and present/promote student-created content, and reframe veteran projects (tri-folds, research posters) as opportunities to design websites to curate content. 

•Design instruction with a focus toward content creation vs content consumption, where students apply a learning cycle to design, iterate, and create products. 

•Provide games, challenges, and puzzles across content areas to  develop patterns, require models, or employ algorithms as part of the instructional practice. 

•Create space and time for students to collect, compare, and connect problem-solving strategies.  

•Promote and showcase student-created apps that transfer computational thinking strategies into products that capture creativity. 

•Students design/record/produce public service announcements for peers (and teachers) to explore and integrate the resources and activities of CSEd Week across the rest of the school year and the rest of the curriculum. 

•Find courses, games, webinars, or programs to extend learning and apply computer achievement and computational thinking skills. 

•Direct students toward opportunities, coursework, or peers to explore next-level programming platforms, languages, or systems. 

•Model and design both structures and  open-ended instruction with physical computing components like Makey Makey, Raspberry pi, MicroBit, or Circuit Playground to build fluency with computing systems and hardware. 

•Design content-area learning objectives that include data sorting, classification, and opportunities to collect and interact with authentic data in meaningful and engaging ways. 

•Connect students with professionals, resources, and communities beyond the classroom walls to provide additional opportunities to develop, apply, and transfer CS skills, while highlighting learning pathways and career opportunities.

Let’s look beyond one hour and one week to frame computer science as a required fluency and competency for our students’ future.

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