Computer science is a trending topic, and is a topic that a lot of teachers are being asked to teach in elementary schools these days. More STEM Labs, Makerspaces, robotics clubs, and technology classes are in our schools than ever before.
The reality is that the current model is not simple enough for all learners to succeed.
There needs to be a level of understanding (about coding) before students can successfully program a robot or build an algorithm for a block coding program.
This is where Guided Coding Stories comes to the rescue!
My technology teacher friend, Brittany, and I developed a way to build those foundational computer science concepts in a way that can be done with any learner, at any age level.
WHY CODE IN SPECIAL ED?
Coding with students is really just sequencing. The vocabulary is a little different, but that is because we are using math and computer science terms instead of language terms.
For example, a coding sequence when put together, creates an algorithm that the computer understands as a program. In real life, a sequence is a set of instructions or steps that WE (instead of a computer) understand.
Just like with the sequence of a story, if any of the steps are missing, the story is incomplete.
With coding, once the program is run, (the programmer presses start) the computer will go through the whole sequence (algorithm) without stopping. If there is a mistake (bug) in the algorithm, the end result will be incorrect.
If a story sequence is missing one of the steps, then the end can’t happen the way it was meant to happen.
3 LEVELS OF DIFFERENTIATION
Here is where Guided Coding Stories SHINES!
The biggest concern we heard about doing STEM or Coding in your classroom is that:
- You’re scared. The word “coding” gives you the heeby-jeebies.
- You “don’t have time” in your current curriculum.
- You don’t know where to start with coding or STEM.
- And there aren’t any resources that are differentiated enough for ALL of your students.
But I’m here to tell you a little, well really BIG, secret. All of your concerns are 100% warranted and I get it, but I’m throwing them out the window.
With 3 levels of differentiation provided (you just print and teach) and a teaching guide to help YOU and your students, you can use this resource with any of your students, at any age… so any child you think would benefit from coding, the game is changed and it’s here for you.
But let’s be honest… since coding is just like sequencing, ALL of your students will benefit.
“But I don’t know how to code, and the thought of coding scares me!”
We guide you through all of the levels from errorless to higher level coding without ever needing to access a device. Students learn computer science vocabulary and concepts while playing, and there really is no way for you to mess up the teaching of it.
“BUT TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE FREAKS ME OUT!”
- I highly recommend playing a game called Lightbot if you want to take your coding knowledge to the next level. There is an iOS app, or you can play it on ABCYa.
- A great intro video for your students (and you) is called Algorithm Al on YouTube. It is a simple, but catchy animated video song perfect for your young learners.
WHAT IF I TEACH REGULAR ED OR RESOURCE?
HERE’S THE LESSON PLAN
- Have the materials ready. It’s print and prep, so really… just print it out.
- Read the book to your class. This can be done in a small group, whole group, or 1:1 setting.
- Model how to work through the Story Grid the first time. I recommend using Level 1 or Level 2.
- From there, everything is set up for the students to follow through to completion.
So, what are you waiting for?! Print and teach, or print and prep these engaging activities so that you can further technology education for this generation.
It is hard to think of a job that doesn’t require memorizing a sequence or algorithm. (HELLO task analysis for brushing your teeth or making a hamburger). Starting this skill at a young age and helping students to generalize it will help your students become valuable members of society as they get older.
What questions do you still have for us about Coding in Special Ed?
Post co-written with Brittany Washburn. She is an elementary educator obsessed with technology and passionate about teaching students 21st century skills.