I am literally buzzing. And it's not the coffee (Okay, it might be the coffee a little bit).
Last night I went to the University of Nebraska at Omaha's campus and attended the monthly meeting of the Computer Science Teachers of America (CSTA). Derek Babb had cordially invited teachers to attend to learn about upcoming the Hour of Code opportunities.
I was blown away with all the support and ideas and resources presented! I want to summarize a few of them here both for myself and any other teachers interested in computer science in the classroom and Hour of Code.
Most impressive facts: One million jobs in IT are expected to be created in the next five years ( !!!!). There are students writing programs to measure the atmosphere for weather balloons that can rise 20 miles over the surface of the earth. Students!
Now, for the goodie. The site resources:
US Cyber Patriots is a great way for kids to become involved in system administrative work to secure websites and fight black hat hackers. The have competitions for kids from high school to elementary school! It's perfect for middle school kids (heck, all kids).
HelpGidget is an awesome lower level site for kids to experiment with code. Although it is rather elementary for most middle school students, I can definitely see applications with our modified SPeD population.
MIT App Inventor for those more advanced students who are ready for the next level. This has tutorials and videos AND lesson plans and forums for those tougher app type problems.
Code Combat Which for the life of me looks like Clash of Clans or some other "warrior" video game. The guys are going to love this one! Also, this website can accommodate a teacher account so the students don't have to login or make accounts.
Code School This site has free and pay lessons. The students just need to be sure they log into the free ones. It's kind of sneaky because it has students take the first course for free and then has pay courses for ones that follow. So much like a neighborhood drug dealer, it gets you hooked with free product and then charges.
Code Academy has an interesting premise. Students complete courses and are rewarded with Donor's Choose gift cards. They can literally learn code and then earn money to buy their clubs supplies! This blew my mind. What a great incentive especially for those of us trying to start our own clubs without resources.
Coding Bat makes old school cool again. This website looks like something out of DOS 1.0; however, it has some nice meat on the bones. Students can watch videos and practice "warmups' to hone their skills. These come in the way of challenges for the student to solve. Once you get past the old school appearance, it really does the trick to move students from blocks of code (like in Scratch and Snap) to strings of actual code phrases.
picoCTF is a "capture the flag" type challenge site that is GLOBAL. Student teams from around the world compete to solve cyber challenges.. Here's their blurb witch does a better job than I ever could to explain it. "PICOCTF is a computer security game targeted at middle and high school students. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. The challenges are all set up with the intent of being hacked, making it an excellent, legal way to get hands-on experience." --picoCTF website--November 10, 2015
CTFtime.org works along the same lines as picoCTF where students compete globally to solve cyber problems in real life scenario based situations.
Okay, I'm not even touching on Tickle, Sphero, Hummingbird, Ozobots or Maky Maky's that we got to in the second hour thirty minutes (YES, the second thirty minutes!!)
And, they served us pizza.
Really, what's not to like? Pizza, tech, great leadership and amazing ideas all in a compact and easy to navigate environment.
Please, please, please give your local chapter of CSTA a chance if you are into this stuff. I cannot believe the positive and supportive environment was right down the street at UNO all this time! I am thrilled to finally be plugged into this VALUABLE community.
Now, please excuse me. I've got some coding websites to play, uh, work with.