Apple’s coding curriculum for schools has been expanded and updated recently to include a full spectrum of offerings for students in K-12 classrooms. It even includes the ability to code smart toys like Spheros and drones. So, if you have access to Apple devices in your school, you should definitely take a look at what this program can offer teachers and students. Here’s what you can expect.
Everyone Can Code
The Everyone Can Code initiative was created by Apple to give everyone the chance to learn how to code using the Swift programming language that was introduced in 2014. The language is now a growing open source language and is the foundation of an increasing number of Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch apps. You can write Swift code in the Swift Playgrounds app for iPads or in Xcode on a Mac.
While it is clearly in Apple’s best interest to have more people writing programs that are designed for its devices, the need for a workforce that is skilled in coding is a demand that we are still struggling to meet. In addition, as Laura Giuggio reminds us, coding teaches problem solving, computational thinking, critical thought, collaboration, and creativity. How many other domains touch on so many useful skills?
The K-12 Coding Curriculum
Apple’s curricular approach to coding comes in a variety of well-written ebooks that are available for free on the iBooks Store. They include teacher guides, resources and activities that are designed to help you teach coding at all ages, from Kindergarten through higher education. Here are links to each coding curriculum along with the grade levels that Apple suggests for each one. (Note: you will need an iOS device or a Mac in order to access the iBooks Store where these books can be downloaded).
- Get Started With Code 1 (Grades K-2) – iPads & Swift Playgrounds app
- Get Started with Code 2 (Grades 3-5) – iPads & Swift Playgrounds app
- Learn to Code 1 & 2 (Grades 6-12) – iPads & Swift Playgrounds app
- Learn to Code 3 (Grades 6-12) – iPads & Swift Playgrounds app
- Intro to App Development with Swift (Grades 9-12) – Macs & Xcode
- App Development with Swift (Grades 9-12) – Macs & Xcode
Check out the scope and sequence graphic below, or read more about these coding programs in the PDFs I linked below about each of the three main branches of this programming initiative:
- Learn more about the Get Started with Code curriculum (PDF)
- Learn more about the Swift Playgrounds curriculum (PDF)
- Learn more about the App Development with Swift curriculum (PDF)
Swift Playgrounds + Robots & More
If you have tried Swift Playgrounds before, you will be familiar with some of the things you can do. However, version 1.5 has added the ability to write code for robots, drones and even musical instruments. Devices that are currently supported include:
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3
- Sphero SPRK+
- Parrot’s Mambo, Airborne and Rolling Spider
- UBTECH’s Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit
- Dash by Wonder Workshop
- Skoog 2.0
This extension of the Swift Playgrounds really adds to the functionality of the app and helps schools use their existing programmable toys in new ways. There will likely be support for more devices in the future, but this is a great start and really helps bring programming to life when students can see a physical representation of what they asked the app to do for them.
If you want a further perspective on what it is like to teach this program, read A Year of Teaching Swift by Fraser Spiers. It’s a great overview of how one educator taught Swift to Grades 6-8, and the lessons he learned along the way.