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Get Started with Coding in Your Classroom
By Kerry Branch, Education Specialist

The South Carolina Computer Science and STEM Summit was held in Greenville, SC on September 19, 2022. Student, industry, education, and government leaders highlighted the importance, application, and successes of computer science across South Carolina. 
During the summit, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman shared this video to highlight the importance of computer science and STEM education in our state.  Over the last two decades, coding and programming have emerged as some of the most desirable skills sought by employers. As famed innovator Marc Andreessen said: "The spread of computers and the internet will put jobs in two categories: people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do." The summit provided a wonderful day of celebrating how far we have come as a state in offering opportunities to prepare our students for their future careers using computer science.'s 2022 State of Computer Science Education Report provides national and state level updates on K-12 computer science education policy, including policy trends, maps, state summaries, and implementation data. On September 26, 2022, the South Carolina State Department of Education shared the following information: “, the nation’s leading provider of K-12 computer science curriculum, ranked South Carolina a national leader in computer science education with one of the highest rates of students enrolled in foundational computer science courses. Ninety-three percent of public high schools in South Carolina offer foundational computer science courses, according to a new report.” Learn more about the state of computer science in S.C. in the state report. 

Wondering how you might empower your students to consider options for the future, while igniting their passion for STEM learning today? Coding may be what you are looking for!
CODE = Collaborate, Create, Construct 
Simply put, coding is a way of communicating with a computer. By providing a set of instructions in a language the computer understands and can follow, it is able to perform functions which produce a desired outcome.

10 reasons students should learn to code: 

    1. Programming helps us learn to problem-solve. 
    2. Programming helps us develop resilience by providing challenge.
    3. Coding teaches us how to think. 
    4. We expand their creativity when they learn how to code. 
    5. Computer programming is the future. 
    6. Career opportunities for those with coding skills are in high demand. 
    7. Coding helps us learn how to have fun with math. 
    8. Coding is learning while having fun. 
    9. Coding is modern literacy. 
   10.  Coding is for everyone. 
The first eight reasons above are based on research from Bonfligo (2018). Coding is a different type of literacy. When students code, they get to practice the skills and abilities of critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, collaboration, communication, perseverance, and interpersonal skills as identified in the Profile of the SC Graduate as World Class Skills and Life and Career Characteristics.
Recent research by the Sphero team has shown that learning to code empowers children with autism.
“The skills learned in computer science-related activities help in many subjects: math, teamwork, project-based learning, science, problem-solving, creative arts and more. Essentially, coding teaches them to think, process and work toward an end result. Computer-related jobs make up much of the projected job market for STEM positions, so it makes sense that learning to code would be an ideal path for a child with autism. The employment rate for adults with autism remains typically low, so boosting their chances of success can only be positive” (2021). 
Learning to code benefits ALL students! 
Getting Started
Help your students learn how to code! Use the suggestions below to get started with coding in your classroom. 

1. Unplugged Activities- To start learning the basics of coding, you do not even need a computer! 
  • One popular unplugged coding activity involves learning to code with a deck of cards! This activity focuses on the coding skills of algorithms, debugging, and loops. The directions to this activity can be found here.        
  • Recently, Chesterfield County teacher leaders used Learning Blade’s "Introduction to Coding-The Treasure Hunt Maze” unplugged lesson during a professional development session. After completing the unplugged activity, teachers then applied the knowledge learned to “Solving a Maze with Block Code” which was a classic maze online involving “Angry Birds"( ). Teachers were excited to share this new learning with students and reflected on how the activities build on one another while allowing students to build World Class Skills identified in the Profile of the Graduate.
Additional unplugged resources: 
2.   There’s an App for That! -Apps exist to make coding simple and fun for students. There are a variety of educational editions for popular games that teach students how to code. Students will have so much fun that they will not even realize that they are learning!
3. Hour Of Code- Free and easy! This introductory programming online experience gives students and parents a chance to understand the importance of learning to code. 
  • The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science to increase participation and interest in the field of computer science. 
  • Originally designed to demystify "code" by showing that anybody can learn the basics and to broaden participation in the field of computer science, this now worldwide effort to celebrate computer science has expanded to all sorts of community efforts. 
  • The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. During this national event, children and adults will be learning how to write code.
  • The 2022 Computer Science Education Week will be December 5-11, but you can host an Hour of Code all year-round. 
  • Computer Science Education Week is held annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).
Additional Resources:
In his TED Talk Video entitled “Let's teach kids to code”, computer scientist Mitch Resnick from MIT explains, "Most people won't grow up to become professional programmers, but those skills of thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively … are things that people can use no matter what they're doing in their work lives."              
Coding provides opportunities for students to develop skills that apply across disciplines. “Coding projects not only potentially enhance specific subject areas like English, science, or art but also are great opportunities for cross-disciplinary, project-based learning” (Knowles, 2022). 

Help students get excited about coding, all the things they can create with it, and where it can take them! “And if you can see it, you can be it.”-Billy Jean King
Bonfligo, C. (2018, August 24). 8 reasons why every child should learn to code. 
Teach Your Kids Code.
Cowan, A. (2018, November 26). Do You Need to Learn to Code? Entrepreneur.
Knowles, J. (2020, November 17). Teachers’ Essential Guide to Coding in the      
Classroom. Common Sense Education.
Team, S. (2021, March 24). Six Ways Coding, Computer Science & Robots Empower                           
Children with Autism.
Image Sources:
Aspinall, B. (2017, November 24). Computational thinking, learning skills, 6CS, and 4Ps – why teach coding? Brian Aspinall - Blog. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from

Van Gorder / Ms. Record's Computer Lab. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from  
Copyright © 2022 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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