[Pedagogy] – Beyond the Hour of Code

[Pedagogy] - Beyond the Hour of Code


As many of you are aware, I am a big advocate for integrating coding into classrooms of any age. Coding makes students think critically, look beyond the surface, solve problems, debug, collaborate and share. Coding is like solving a giant puzzle, where some answers are more efficient than others, but every kid gets an opportunity to create a solution. It’s a student-centred environment which provides immediate feedback and let’s kids take risks without fear or judgement.


I would be naive to think coding is for everyone. But you would be naive to think it’s not for your class.


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How can anyone make a decision or choice about something they have zero experience with?

Some of my closest friends still love to engage in a debate – and that is important as it makes us all think and reflect.


Now that the Hour of Code week (ah hem, Computer Science Education Week) is over, what will you do next? I encourage you to go beyond the procedural tutorial the HOC offers. Coding is more than just moving a character around a screen and following a script. Give kids a chance to create content using code. Check out TouchDevelop by Microsoft.

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Here are two “unplugged” math activities using the principles of coding:

  1. Unplugging the Hour of Code
  2. Unplugging the Hour of Code (Part 2)


I also encourage you to read Don’t Take Down the Coding Decorations by my good pal @ECiardelli.

I’ve written and re-written the title to this post a few times now. I went with Beyond the Hour of Code for two reasons.

1) Don’t stop now! Keep going!

2) This is about more than just coding.

Putting aside all the research that supports computational thinking and the future of industry, I want teachers to try coding because you are the model in your classroom. It isn’t as much about coding as it is about trying something new, failing, and trying again. It isn’t as much about coding as it is about admitting you are not the expert and letting kids show and help you.

I will continue to push coding because it pushes pedagogy.

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I will use coding as the driving force:

  • to be rid of “Off and Away” policy.
  • to focus on feedback over grades.
  • to show that education is about community, culture and trust.
  • to show that there is more than one way to assess and evaluate student work.
  • to show the value of trial and error, risk taking and failure.
  • to flatten classrooms and remove hierarchical structures.
  • to engage the disengaged student.
  • to give reluctant sharers a space to share.
  • to teach the problem solving process.
  • to support numeracy and literacy.
  • to make kids think.
  • to make teachers think.

Don’t just try coding for the sake of coding. Go beyond the hour of code.

Here are a few examples of student work from my classroom:


“What if we could go further? What if we could go beyond the screen?”



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3 Responses for this post

  1. Aviva
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    Thanks for sharing your thinking here, Brian! I’d love to have you expand on some of your points in this post … both the list of bulleted points and your response to Matthew’s tweet. Maybe another blog post (or two) perhaps! 🙂


  2. Aaron Davis
    Aaron Davis
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    Interesting post Brian. I have been really thinking about the whole ‘coding’ debate a lot lately as there comes the push to embed it more explicitly in the curriculum here in Australia (actually it seems everywhere). One point that you made has left me thinking, that “How can anyone make a decision or choice about something they have zero experience with?” I don’t disagree and think that it is important. However, I am interested in what that ‘experience’ needs to be? Too often students are let loose on arbitrary tasks with little connection with the real world. I am wondering whether the teaching of coding is in need of a context? I have rambled more here (http://readwriterespond.com/?p=1316) and would love your thoughts.


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