Coding in the Classroom with Swift Playgrounds

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The recent release of iOS 10 unlocked a creative coding opportunity for iPad classrooms called Swift Playgrounds. It’s an iPad app that lets you solve interactive puzzles that are designed to help you learn the basics of how to code in a programming language called Swift. It is aimed at students aged 12 and over and is part of Apple’s Everyone Can Code initiative. So, if you are looking for new ways to start coding with students, this could be a great new platform for you to explore. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Swift?

Swift is an open source programming language that was developed by Apple engineers and released in 2014. It was created to help developers build apps for iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. Swift has its origins firmly rooted in another programming language called Objective-C, but Swift is generally considered to be more concise. The app, Swift Playgrounds, was developed to help introduce a younger audience to the finer points of programming with Swift, and to help foster a new generation of programmers for Apple devices.

Getting Started With Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is only available for iPads running iOS 10 or later. You also need at least an iPad Air, or an iPad Mini 2, because these are the oldest devices that are capable of running the app. The iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPad 4 and the original iPad Mini are not compatible Swift Playgrounds because they either can’t be upgraded past iOS 9 or lack the hardware necessary to run the Playgrounds app.

Once you launch the app you will see lessons at the top of the screen and coding challenges underneath. If your students have never programmed with Swift before, the lessons are the best place to start because they introduce you to the basics that students will need in order to attempt the challenges. Continue reading Coding in the Classroom with Swift Playgrounds

How to Teach Coding in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers

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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.

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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.

Continue reading How to Teach Coding in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers

How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the classroom is becoming an increasingly popular thing to do. The Hour of Code helped raise awareness for that, and has brought to light a whole slew of new coding opportunities for teachers and students. I was similarly inspired, and have committed myself to learning HTML and CSS in my spare time this year. However, regardless of what code you decide to learn, or teach, you will need a code editor with which to compile your code. For me, there are few that have more benefits than the free Editey website editor apps.

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Editey apps can be installed inside Google Drive. Simply click Create > Connect More Apps, and search for Editey. Once you have installed the apps you want, all you need to do is hit the big red Create button to get started on some code. All your files are then stored inside Drive and can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on a Mac, PC or Chromebook. Better still, any files you create can be shared with other users and worked on in real time. This means students can collaborate with each other on their code, and share it with their teacher when they are done.

Continue reading How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom

My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids!

December 9-15, 2013 is Computer Science Education Week, and this year their big push is to get coding incorporated into school curriculums everywhere. There are lots of reasons why kids should be coding, but none more than the fact that there are more resources than ever to help students and teachers get started, regardless of their previous experiences with computer programming. So, in honor of the #HourOfCode project, here is my BIG list of iPad coding apps for kids. There is something here for students of all ages.

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Bee-Bot (Free) – The new Bee-Bot App from TTS Group has been developed based on our well-loved, award-winning Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.

Bee-Bot Pyramid ($0.99) – A fun educational Numeracy game which encourages directional language, sequencing and problem solving. The Bee-Bot app teaches children how to direct and move their Bee-Bot character by giving it a set of sequential commands that they programme in, by pressing the keypad buttons.

Coddy Free or Coddy Luck (Free or $1.99) – CODDY FREE is an original educational tool with the MAIN OBJECTIVE of creating a sequence of steps so that the pencil Coddy can draw a pattern you have chosen from the menu or created by yourself. DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY? There are max. 220 rows to be filled in and there are 7 basic commands to be used. NOW, CAN YOU MAKE IT?

KineScript Lite or KineScript (Free or $1.99) – KineScript is a visual programming language that children can learn a code and share it. It’s easy to make a scene with built-in sprite characters, stage images and sounds library. Drag a script and build the script block to control the flow and to change the behaviour. You can build animations, games and stories easily to share them by email.

i-Logo – LOGO was created in 1967 for educational use, is a computer programming language with functional programming capability. This version of LOGO is an interpreted language, but isn’t a lite version. Functional programming with global and local variables is implemented.

Continue reading My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids!