Making the Grade: Why Code.org curriculum replaced Swift Playgrounds in my coding classes
I am in the midst of my third year of teaching coding at my school to nine and ten years old students, and I made a significant change this year after reflecting over the last two cycles. As I began lesson planning over Christmas break, I made a list of what I liked about Swift Playgrounds and what I didn’t like. As I began to think through it, I realized that what I didn’t like about Learn to Code 1 in Swift Playgrounds was how quickly the difficulty went up. By class five, students who didn’t naturally “get” the concepts of coding began to become frustrated. As I went to search for some different curriculum, I ended up on Code.org for coding curriculum due to its ability to create classes and monitor progress through our Clever portal integration.
About Making The Grade: Every other Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.
As I’ve mentioned before, Clever was a game-changing solution for our school. Instead of manually creating accounts for various services, I have our SIS upload our database nightly to Clever. Then as students enroll, they are auto-populated in our various applications. Because Code.org works with Clever, students needed their QR codes to log in. I then create a “section” in Code.org with the curriculum assigned. I wrote the section code on the board, and the students were able to join without much effort.
What I’ve realized about Code.org vs. Learn to Code 1 in Swift Playgrounds is that Code.org isn’t a one size fits all program. There are several different options that teachers can use, wherein Learn to Code 1, it’s merely a one size fits all.
I think that the Learn to Code content is well done, but I think it’s generally going to work better with students who are 13+. All of our students started on the same Code.org curriculum. Still, after we finished up the first section, I am going to create multiple options for students to use after that, depending on their level of expertise and comfort.
What should Apple do with Learn to Code 1?
This article isn’t a complaint about Learn to Code 1 (or Swift Playgrounds), but I am learning that our students aren’t old enough to easily work through it without becoming very frustrated. What I think Apple could do is create a Learn to Code Beginner or Learn to Code Junior meant for elementary school children. Apple has created a wealth of content around Swift inside of Swift Playgrounds. The app is well designed, as well.
Wrap-up on Code.org curriculum
We are a little over halfway done at this point, and our students have enjoyed the new Code.org content we’re working through as a class. Even on the iPad using Safari, it’s straightforward for them to follow along with the lessons, but I also have plenty of content from a teaching perspective as well.
If you are looking for some free coding curriculum for your school, check out Code.org.
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