Coding: Strategies for Integrating the 4 c's and the Common Core

Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity: skills that are vital to being a successful 21st Century adult, and are directly linked with the style of learning that is demanded by the Common Core.  More than that, these are life skills and should be developed throughout a child's education.

Here are 4 ways quick ways that you can tailor coding lessons to support communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in the classroom.

1. Communication

Coding is unique in that students are required to fail before they succeed. This is a great opportunity for to students engage in academic discourse about their failures, successes, and strategies for pushing past challenges.

Try this in pairs or small groups:

  • Each student presents a problem they encountered and how they got past it- in an app or game this could be a level the student could not pass, or it could be a concept the student is struggling to understand on-screen or off-screen.
  • Using coding-specific vocabulary, the student explains their challenge and how they worked through it to their listening partner or group.

After each student has presented and explained their problem,  have them take 10 minutes to silently explain their problem and solution in writing.

2. Collaboration

Working with others is an essential life skill. Students can learn by working with and helping others, and the way I've seen kids genuinely want to collaborate when it comes to Kodable and coding is so exciting.

Intentionally provide opportunities for students to work together:

  • Coding Buddies
    Pair students with a buddy from an older class and meet weekly to do a coding activity together. Similar to reading buddies, this is an opportunity for cross-age collaboration and social emotional learning.
  • Challenge of the Day  
    Assign groups an off-screen challenge. This can be anything from defining a programming concept to having groups create a maze for another group to program a fuzz through. Keep it fun, appropriately challenging, and level the groups so every student has an opportunity to participate and contribute.
  • Code Busters!  One sentiment that has been echoed by our Kodable teachers is that coding has been an opportunity for students who typically struggle in other areas to shine. Assigning 5 daily  helpers, or "Code Busters," gives every student an opportunity to share their expertise with classmates and help them work through challenges.

3. Critical Thinking

Coding is an act of thinking critically.

  • Ask Questions
    Ask students questions when they're on their devices! Talk about their ideas, where they came across a challenge, or what they can do differently for their next attempt. Get students to actively think about what they are doing.
  • Promote Problem Solving
    Integrate writing and speaking activities that get students sharing how they solved the same problem in coding. Highlight that there are multiple ways to see a problem, think about a problem, and solve a problem. Use manipulatives, visuals, and create tables and lists.

4. Creativity

Coding programs and apps inspire design, art, expression, and overall creativity. Use off-screen lessons and activities that allow students to design and create.

Creative classroom activity: Have students create their own programming language.

Start small- students can create symbols for directions. Students decide what means up, down, left, or right in their language and teach their language to a partner.

Try these Kodable-specific activities to get creative with coding:

  • K-1
    Draw a picture of the world of Smeeborg. Include details, fuzzes, and arrows for navigation.
  • 2-3
    Write a short story about the adventure your fuzz went on in the lesson. Include programming language that is relevant to the lesson's content.
  • 4-5
    Using other apps (Scratch), create the world of Kodable. Include mazes, fuzzes, and programming concepts (loops, conditions).

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