Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Teach Kids to Code?

I'm presenting a session titled, "Create. Learn. Play. Game Design and Coding in the Classroom "at the Games in Education conference.   I teach Video Game Design and Development at William Annin Middle School in Basking Ridge, NJ.  When I tell people what I teach, they immediately respond by saying, "You must be teaching in a charter school."  Well, not so.  I teach in a public middle school.  This might sound progressive, but it really should not.  I believe that all schools should offer Game Design and Coding opportunities throughout the grades.  My goal is to develop a scalable curriculum and provide resources that span grades, primarily K-12 at this point.

Why?  Good Question.

According to Mitch Resnick, director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab expresses the idea that

"coding isn't just for computer whizzes - it's for everyone."  In his Ted Talk (below),  he provides a demo "outlining the benefits of teaching the benefits of teaching kids to code, so they can do more than just "read" new technologies - but also create them." (Resnick, 2012)

The EdSurge Teaching Kids to Code Guide states,
"We are teaching them to code, however, not so much as an end in itself but because our world has morphed: so many of the things we once did with elements such as fire and iron, or tools such as pencil and paper, we can now wrought in code. We are teaching coding to help our kids craft their future. "

One of the tools that I use with my students is Gamestar Mechanic produced by e-line media.  The research done around Gamestar Mechanic reveals the following important ideas that teaching game design contributes to learning:

Designing games builds:
  • Systems Thinking,
  • 21st Century Skills,
  • Creative Problem Solving,
  • Art and Aesthetics,
  • Writing and Storytelling,
  • and creates a motivation for STEM learning.

In my classes, I use a number of tools and plan to explore more tools in depth in order to realize my goal of developing ideas for teaching coding throughout the grades.  In the next number of blog posts, I will highlight a number of the tools available.

Do you teach coding to your students?  What benefits do you see?  Do you believe we are barking up the wrong tree when we speak of the importance of teaching kids to code?  If so, please chime in.