How to Teach Coding in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers

teach coding in the classroom

You’ve probably heard the buzz about coding in the classroom, and you may even have thought about integrating it into your classroom, but just where do you begin? In this post I will run through a few of the most popular online services that are designed to help you and your students get up and coding in no time at all.

1. Scratch and Tynker – One of the best introductions to coding can be had with either Scratch or Tynker. Both are free. Both give you the building blocks of creating code in a visual, sandbox environment. Scratch is a project that came from MIT. It used to be a program you had to download to use, but it can now be utilized completely online. Tynker is an offshoot of Scratch. It looks and works in a very similar way, but has a few more teacher management controls. Use Scratch or Tynker with elementary students and beyond.

2. Codecademy – I love Codecademy. It takes things one step beyond the basics and has you writing some actual code, but it is also a one-stop shop for all your coding needs. It has a variety of stepped tutorials that walk you through the programming language of your choice based on no previous experience. Javascript, Python, HTML, PHP and Ruby are among your choices for your first coding expedition.

codecademy

3. Code Avengers – This is a great site for middle school and above. If Codecademy lacks a little personality for you, try Code Avengers. It has a superhero-esque theme with a built-in gamification element that awards points, badges and games to keep the learning fun and addictive. HTML/CSS and Javascript are the main focus of this site.

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Why the Folder Gadget Beats Attachments in Google Sites

There are a number of ways that you can add file attachments to a Google Site. For instance, you can add files to the bottom of a page in the attachments area. You can also add a File Cabinet page. However, my favorite, by far, is the Folder gadget.

The folder gadget lets you display the contents of a Google Drive Folder on a Google Site. You add your folder by editing a page and going to Insert > Drive > Folder. Then you select the folder from your Google Drive that you want to add to your Google Site.

insert folder in google sites

For me, the Folder gadget has a number of advantages over page attachments or a file cabinet page. Here are a few of the important differences:

1. Updates: The problem with attachments and file cabinet pages is that every time you update a document, you need to remove the one you had from a Google Site and upload the latest version. If you use Google Docs, Spreadsheets or Presentations, you can log in to your Drive account, and edit the document. Because the file is in a folder that is embedded on your Google Site, the latest version of the file is automatically pushed to your website. This is great for teachers who update a syllabus or other class documents.

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How to Hide iPad Apps and Put Folders in a Folder!

I do a lot of iPad trainings and provide support for educators with iPads on almost a daily basis. So, I get my fair share of complaints along the way. For instance, people who wish that they could “swipe to type” just like they can on their Android phone, or those that want to set certain apps as default apps. I explain that this is just the way things are on iOS right now. It might change in the future, but right now you can’t do that.

Today, however, I am happy to eat my words. Today I came across The iTeach Hub website and I learned two new things that I had previously told people were not currently possible on an iPad. So, I feel compelled to share what they are, just to put the record straight. After all, maybe they are new to you too!

UPDATE: These tricks may no longer work if you update to iOS 7.1 😦

1. How to Put Folders in a Folder (i.e. nest folders)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have one Language folder that had sub-folders for Fluency, Writing, Vocabulary and so forth? Well, you can, and it works. The video below explains all you need to know. Personally I had more luck double clicking the home button first and then selecting the folder, but it works the other way around too…

2. How to Hide the Settings App from Students

Most educators, therapists or consultants have fallen foul to students who have messed with the Settings on your iPad by accident, or on purpose. This trick is designed to fix that, and can be used with other apps too, like the Mail app for instance. Again, I had more luck with double-clicking first, and it should be noted that you can only hide apps that are on your dock to begin with. If you want to hide an app that is not on your dock, drag it to your dock first. The video below explains the rest.

These hacks work for now, but don’t be surprised if Apple removes this functionality in future updates to iOS. They have done that before. However, until that time, feel free to enjoy it while it lasts and share your newfound iPad knowledge with others. 🙂

 

The Best Classroom Alternatives to the iOS Notes App

There is nothing wrong with the iOS Notes app. I know lots of people that use it, and like it, but it’s a little light on features. There are other apps that do more, a lot more in some cases, and they are all great apps for teachers and students to use in the classroom. So, without further ado, here are some of the best alternatives to the iOS Notes app.

1. Swiftkey Note (Free) – Swiftkey is a relative newcomer to the iOS scene, but it is a name that is well known with Android users for its innovative swipe to type keyboard technologies. There is no keyboard swiping magic in Swiftkey Note, but it still has a great feature for elementary classrooms – word prediction! It will predict the words as you type them, offer you spelling corrections for misspelled words, and learn new words that you add to its dictionary. Better still, it is free, and you can sync all your notes to Evernote.

swiftkey note

2. Evernote (Free) – Speaking of Evernote, it would be remiss of me not to mention it in a roundup of the best iOS notetaking apps. Evernote has been around for a while, but it has stood the test of time, and proven itself to be a reliable and feature packed note taking app. For me the key feature is the ability to access my notes on any device at any time, but the ability to add photos, record audio, and search through all my notes quickly is also very handy.

evernote

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