Cracking the Code

This week for EDTC300 we were challenged to explore coding. I have very little knowledge of coding and the only experience I have is when EYES came to our ESCI310 class and I attempted to code a microbit. This week, I decided to learn about coding from Code Academy. I chose to complete the Learn how to Code course.

This course was broken down into 3 modules. Each module had sections to complete with information, coding activities, and was followed by a quiz on what was learned. The first module was Basics of Programming I. Here is a summary of what I learned, including screencasts of the activities and quizzes!

  • Programming: is the mental process of thinking up instructions to give to a machine (like a computer).
  • Coding: is the process of transforming those ideas into a written language that a computer can understand. allow us to store information
  • Variables: allow us to store information, quickly reuse a value in our program, and easily change a value in our program.

Primitives: the simplest data types and are shared across many programming languages. They include:

  • Numbers: values that allow us to do calculations and keep count.
  • Strings: a sequence of characters or symbols often used to denote text.
  • Booleans: logical values that represent the idea of true or false.
  • Operators: symbols that represent different ways of modifying, comparing, and evaluating information.
  • Arithmetic operators: used to make calculations.
  • Comparison operators: determine the relationship between two values, which results in a boolean.
  • Logical operators: determine the logical state of multiple boolean values or expressions, which results in another boolean.

I then moved onto module 2, Basics of Programming II. This module focused on functions and control flow.

  • Function: a sequence of instructions that performs a specific task, packaged as a unit.
  • Defining a function: specifying the instructions, inputs, and name of the function.
  • Calling a function: all of the function’s instructions are executed.
  • Parameters: accept input values, making the function’s instructions flexible.

I then moved onto module 3, Basics of Programming III. This module focused on lists and loops.

  • List: an ordered sequence of information.
  • Index position: allows you to access an item in a list.
  • Append: attaching items to the end of the list.
  • Insert: you can add items to the middle of the list.
  • Loop: a structure in programming where the instructions are written once, but a computer can execute them multiple times.
  • Iteration: each execution of the instructions.
  • For loops (count-controlled loops): repeat for a specified number of times.
  • While loops (condition-controlled loops): repeat until a condition changes.
  • For each loops (collection-controlled loops): repeat for each item in a collection.

I learned so much about the basics of coding during this course and I feel that I now have a good grasp on basic coding terms. I really enjoyed the layout of Code Academy and I feel that it would be a beneficial tool to use in the classroom. The content was presented in a way that allowed for scaffolding. It presented the information for you to read over and learn the terms, then provided activities for you to practice what was learned, then had a quiz where you could test your knowledge. It worked through the topics at a pace that allowed the content to be fully understood before moving on. I would recommend the Basics of Programming course to anyone looking to learn about the basics of coding.

If I were to use this tool in the classroom, I would invest in the PRO version. The Pro version allows you to code activities, participate in challenge projects, and follow a structured path that can help you learn the skills for a particular career.

Between our class discussion on coding and exploring it through this course, I am beginning to understand the benefits of incorporating it into the classroom. I have often wondered how coding would benefit students in an early elementary setting. The article 5 reasons why Coding is Important for Young Minds, outlines how coding can benefit young children.

  • It is another language: it promotes communication skills within children and builds critical thinking skills.
  • It fosters creativity: it allows students to learn through mistakes and successes.
  • It can strengthen math skills: it helps children visualize abstract concepts.
  • It can improve academic performance: it helps students organize their thoughts.
  • It helps children learn to problem solve: students learn that there is more than one way to solve a problem or complete a task.

After reading about the benefits of coding and exploring some of the basics, this is definitely something I hope to incorporate into my future classroom. I look forward to finding more resources on this topic and exploring more outlets to practice coding that may apply in a classroom setting.

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