Celebrate Computer Science Week with An Hour of Code

Kids today are immersed in technology, yet 90% of them haven’t been exposed to computer programming at school. This week, across 167 countries and 33,000 classrooms, over 5 million people will try out coding for the first time – would your kids like to join them? At the end of the hour, they’ll have coded their very own greeting card to send to someone this holiday season.

If they can type, they can code. Coding may seem a little scary to some, but we’ve made a fun hour of coding that’ll have them building things in a snap. The founders of Facebook, Microsoft, and Google all started their journeys with just one line of code. Our kids should all have the chance to create the technology of the future, not just use it.

Our daughters really enjoyed it, and got this nifty diploma for their portfolio.
Our daughters really enjoyed it, and got this nifty diploma for their portfolio.

Hour of Code is an initiative to get students to spend an hour of time learning to code, as part of national CS Education Week, December 9-15. Hopefully, after spending just one hour, they’ll want to keep going with many more hours of code.

Hour of Code is about getting millions of students to try computer science for just one hour during Computer Science Education Week, which starts tomorrow. A lesson plan for educators can be found here. At Khan Academy, we’ve custom made a tutorial for students that requires no prior experience and is good for grades 3 to 12 and beyond – anybody can learn: https://www.khanacademy.org/r/hour-of-code

Anybody can learn to code: A 60 second video from Code.org on how anybody can learn to code

Information about Khan Academy’s Hour of Code, by Sal Khan:

Khan Academy’s curriculum teaches coding via drawing, so the student will have a very visual way to learn coding. We find students of many ages and genders enjoy that, with the optimal age in middle and high school.

That curriculum includes:

  • 20 minutes of videos and “talk-throughs”, which are how we teach programming concepts.
  • 3 coding challenges, which give the student a chance to practice the concept and give us a way to automatically grade them and award points.
  • 1 final project, a way for students to use what they’ve learnt in a more creative, free-form way.

We believe that will take about an hour to get through, but we also believe on Khan Academy that students should be able to learn at their own pace, so we encourage you to give students more time than an hour (like 1.5-2 hours), or make it clear to them that they don’t need to finish it all.

To use this in your classroom for Hour of Code:

Before Hour of Code:

Anybody can learn to code. The class is open to parents who want to learn as well!
Anybody can learn to code. The class is open to parents who want to learn as well!

Prepare your classroom:

  • Make sure you have a computer for each student, or a computer for each pair of students. If students must pair up (“pair programming”), then make sure they alternate between the typer and the watcher.
  • Make sure you have good internet access in the classroom, as you will need that to access the Khan content, particularly the videos and talk-throughs. See this guide for more info.
  • Make sure you have a compatible browser installed on the computers: Chrome is preferred, but IE9+ and Firefox should also work. IE8 willnot work well.
  • Provide headphones or ask students to bring headphones. You can buy bulk disposable ones on Amazon.
  • Register on Code.org to be eligible for freebies and prizes for your classroom.
  • (Optional) Prepare printed handouts of graph paper and cheat sheets, one for each student.

Prepare yourself:

  • Go through the curriculum yourself before, so you are familiar with what the students will be experiencing.
  • (Optional) Sign up as a coach on Khan Academy and add your students. That will make it easy for you to track their progress. See this guide for more info.

Prepare your students:

  • (Optional) Encourage your students to sign up for a Khan Academy account, so they can track their points and programs. If you signed up as a coach, have them add you.

During the Hour of Code:

  • Distribute headphones or handouts if you have them.
  • Give this URL to your students: https://www.khanacademy.org/r/hour-of-code
  • Watch the first video together, and then encourage them to do the rest at their own pace.

After the Hour of Code:

  • If you signed up as a coach, check out the programs that your students made for the final project on your class programs page. Vote them up, leave nice comments, and encourage them to share them.
  • Encourage your students to continue learning to program on Khan Academy, using our full curriculum.

Thank you for encouraging the next generation of computer scientists!

Lupe Tucker

A homeschooling mother of 5, home education advocate, and former classroom teacher. She is a writer, blogger, and poet. "I just want to encourage, and be encouraged. Inspire, and be inspired. Teach a little, and learn a lot," is her approach to life.