5 Ways to Bring Coding into Your Core Curriculum
During a #TynkerChat on Twitter a few months ago, moderator Jon Corippo asked participants, “Can coding replace worksheets? To what degree?”
Q4 Can coding replace worksheets? To what degree? #TynkerChat
— jcorippo (@jcorippo) May 15, 2017
Here are five ideas for how you can bring coding into your curriculum instead of worksheets – along with free example projects that you can use in your classroom:
1. Tell a story with code
Assigning a storytelling project can serve a lot of different purposes: reinforcing a grammar concept, encouraging creativity and storytelling skills, and teaching coding!
Use this to replace: A grammar worksheet on homophones.
How it works: In this example, students can work by themselves or in pairs to create a short story with lots of homophones. Instead of using the “say” block, the characters use the “ask with answers” block to ask for the correct homophone from a list of choices. The story can’t move on until the player chooses the correct homophone!
Possible extensions: This template could be used for a lot of different topics! How about choosing the correct spelling of a word or choosing the vocab word that makes the most sense in context?
2. Make a game
Kids love playing games – and there are tons of wonderful educational games out there that reinforce math concepts – but there is something fundamentally different about programming your own game that really drives home the concepts.
Use this to replace: A math worksheet on multiplication.
How it works: There are three main aspects to this game that your students code: the falling obstacles, the running character, and win/loss conditions when the character touches an obstacle or the goal. Your students write their own math questions and program the character so that only the correct answer makes it move forward.
Possible extensions: There are so many types of games that your students can make, but this basic template can be used for just about any subject – and students can even customize the character, background, and obstacle to match the topic.
3. Program a simulation
Programming a simulation can help science come alive for students in a really exciting way. And unlike physical simulations, virtual ones are a lot easier to set up – and to clean up!
Use this to replace: A science worksheet on the Solar System.
How it works: Students apply what they’re learning in math class about angles to model how planets move around the Solar System. Creating the simulation themselves really brings the topic to life.
Possible extensions: This template works wonderfully for showing how any bodies move – including how volcanoes are formed or how Pangaea split apart to form our modern continents.
4. Code a quiz
Quizzes are classic and versatile, and easy to use in any context. This template shows you how to mix up the classic quiz format to include little animations of scenarios that the questions are based on.
Use this to replace: A history or civics worksheet on the Bill of Rights.
How it works: Students come up with scenarios that either do or do not violate the Bill of Rights, then animate these scenarios and ask the user whether or not the Bill of Rights was violated. They can use their final products to quiz their peers and talk to them about whether they agree with the answers.
Possible extensions: Almost any topic! Quizzes are very versatile and easy to make. You can make this project easier by eliminating some of the scene animations, or make it more challenging by
5. Make an interactive model
Interactive models combine the intuitive visuals of simulations with the interactivity of quizzes! Once students make their interactive models, they’re great resources that students can share with their classmates to study for tests.
Use this to replace: A life sciences or environmental science worksheet on ecological pyramids.
How it works: Students (or groups of students) choose an ecosystem, like the desert, forest, or freshwater river. They work together to do research on their ecosystem and find out how plants and animals interact and what level of the ecological pyramid they fall into. Then they create a simple interactive model that sorts animals and plants into their correct trophic level.
Possible Extensions: This is great for modeling any science topic or diagramming a process, like the rock cycle or how the digestive system works.
One of the best parts of using coding instead of a worksheet is that, as they complete these projects, students build a digital portfolio of their work, which they can use to review what they’ve learned, as well as to quiz their friends! Plus, you can compile the best projects from the class and add them to a class showcase that you can show off to parents or other teachers.
All these projects are available on our Hour of Code page, on the free Tynker app for Android tablets and iPads, and in students’ accounts under Learn to Code → Tutorials → STEM. You can access hundreds more of these projects as part of our STEM curriculum, which comes with any school license.
Are you planning to stick with worksheets, or are you ready to try something new? How do you think worksheets compare to coding projects? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and join the conversation for next week’s #TynkerChat!