Coding Apps for the Classroom

2:30 PM

For those of you that do not know, I love to teach coding to my technology students. I don't think that there is any bad that can come out of student having some coding knowledge. Coding also is the base of many careers in many different career fields. That being said, anyone could benefit from knowing some code. I share some of my favorite computer based coding websites in another blog post.

This year, though, I have switched from a computer lab to an iPad lab so I set out to find some apps that I could use this year to teach coding. We have Dot & Dash robots that we use to program and combine robotics and code and I talk about how I use them here.

I highly recommend the Sololearn Inc apps for Middle and High School students. I used them myself when learning different coding languages to teach little bits to my students and they are super informational and effective. I love how easily I could move through them, and they had great help features for when I got stuck. There are Sololearn apps for C#, Java, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, Python and C++.

For my K-5 kiddos, though, I needed something a little more basic. I went searching through the App Store and downloaded the three that I thought looked most user friendly and popular - CodeSpark Academy, Kodable, and Tynker. Below I'll share with you my thoughts on each, and which I decided to use first in my K-5 classrooms.

Kodable: Kodable requires student logins in order to use the app. The advantage that Kodable gives you over other apps is that you create logins for the students, and then monitor student progress. It is nice to be able to make student logins and give them a class code, and not have to use emails for each individual student. In the setting of the mobile lab like I have though, creating accounts means all 200 students that I reach need to have accounts created for them. That is a ton of work for the rate and speed at which we will code. That being said, Kodable has some really great options for coding, but you have to pay for a lot of it. I did send out a cost request on their website, and it was reasonably priced for the amount of students that I have. That being said, our budget is pretty set for the year so Kodable isn't something we are going to purchase this year. I did have my students work through the beginning levels (there are only 5 that are free) just to get a little glimpse at coding, because of the 3 apps, I believe this one starts at the most basic level.

Tynker: My favorite part of the Tynker app is that once you open it up, you are free to code. It does start at probably a 2nd grade level (although most of my 1st graders fared okay), but with good directions, any students can follow along. There are MANY levels of Tynker and they are almost all free. They really start at the basics and quickly move your students forward. If they get one wrong, there are really great help features to update them. Another thing I really love about Tynker is that it starts with drag and drop coding. For those older students who can read, this is such a great way to teach coding. Using the words instead of pictures is ideal for their future in coding.

CodeSpark: As soon as you open up the CodeSpark app, you have to login as a parent. The parent login requires an email and password. It also costs $7.99 per month after a 1 month free trial. It does have a ton of coding challenges and adds new puzzles every week.  If you are a teacher, you can sign up for free student accounts, but you must add each students parent email to their logins. Again, you must do this for each of your students, or you can do a bulk import per class. Once you login to the device once with your teacher account, the students will just need to click their name in order to log in. They get to design a character and pick a fake name to be identified by. There aren't a ton of written directions once you get started - your student is mainly taught through pictures, but there are many levels that you can access with this free account.

Like I said, I did use Kodable with my K/1 students because it starts at the most basic level. I started my 2-4 kids on Tynker right away and they are loving it. We did do Hour of Code with last year, but even my new kids who haven't ever coded before are doing fabulous with Tynker.

Do you use a coding app in your classroom? Do you love it? Share it with me below. I would love to check it out!

Happy Coding,
Hilary @ Mrs. Tech

by Hilary

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