Coding doesn’t have to be a stand alone subject. With the heavy demands of a full curriculum, finding ways to integrate subjects not only allows teachers to cover more content, it makes learning more meaningful for students. Here are two unplugged (coding without devices) activities, followed by two Scratch suggestions.
Firstly, I like to integrate coding with English through the genre, procedure writing. As I blogged previously, one of my favourite activities is to ask students to write an algorithm (a set of specific steps that you can follow to solve a problem) for making a Vegemite sandwich (Australian teachers), a peanut butter jelly sandwich (American teachers) or any thing that your students are familiar with. Here is the link to my previous blog post.
Another unplugged activity, is to integrate coding with Visual Arts. This idea came from the Hello Ruby website. With this activity, invite students to pretend that they are a computer which has been programmed to complete a simple algorithm. The teacher then gives each student an algorithm. Examples of algorithms might include: (1) Draw a dot (2) Draw a circle around a dot (3) Draw a line connecting all the red objects (4) Draw the first letter of your name (5) Draw squares in two different colours (6) Draw triangles inside each square. Each student has a large piece of paper in front of them and markers or paints (depending on how messy you would like it to be). When the teacher says RUN, students draw their algorithm. When the teachers says END, student stop drawing and rotate one position to their right. The teacher may also opt for computers to run fast or slow. Then students can view and critique their group artwork.
Many teachers, including myself, tap into the free coding program Scratch. This is not an unplugged activity as it requires access to a device. You can download many free resources online, just search the Internet and you will find hundreds. However, I thought I’d share two of my favourites.
The first is a cross-curricular integration guide which you can download by following this link. I like this document as the resources are broken down into specific resources and there are project examples for years 3 to 12. The second one is called Numeracy From Scratch (appendix-15gwr9e). This document contains 10 sample worksheets for 8-11 year olds. What I like about these worksheets is that they introduce students to computer symbols, students can write the answer they think the sprite will give when clicked (predict) and then check interactively. The image below isn’t the best quality, but if you click on it you will see a clear image.