If you’re like most teachers all over the world, transitioning to teaching through a virtual environment was a massive adjustment—there were technical problems, countless hours spent learning new platforms and strategies for engaging learners virtually. Given the amount of time teachers spend learning how to teach in a new environment, there probably isn’t bandwidth left for an innovative curriculum (I barely have enough bandwidth at the end of the day to figure out dinner).
Thankfully, BootUp has a slew of resources to help. And this is a golden time to get students excited about computer science because they’re experiencing its capabilities firsthand through virtual learning.
How to make the most out of our resources
You don’t need to have a doctorate in computer science to teach CS. BootUp’s lessons are designed for even those teachers who have never written a line of code before. Here’s what to do:
First, if you’re completely new to Scratch, you may want to try one of the tutorials within Scratch to create something fun and interesting to you. That will get you familiar with the platform by encouraging you to start a project. And once you do that, you’ll be hooked: it’s so fun, you’ll want to teach your students. Trying a project out also helps you feel more confident about teaching coding.
Next, head over to our Remote Learning Resources landing page. All our resources are divided by age range, so select the grade you teach: ScratchJr for grades K-2 and Scratch for Grades 3+. Then, scroll through the available modules to select from dozens of projects, complete with previews, lesson plans, and coder resources.
If this is your first time teaching CS, I recommend going through the projects in sequential order. Click on “lesson plans,” then under “Project Sequence,” click on “Project Work.” You’ll notice everything here has been done for you, from breaking down each step in teaching a project to providing additional resources to clarify points in the lesson.
If you teach grades 3+ and you’d like to foster a sense of self-reliance in your remote students and challenge them to think critically, I recommend encouraging your students to try a project on their own. Each lesson has a link to “Coder Resources.” Have your students sign in and create a new project, then attempt the lesson independently by reading through the coder resources. This can be done during class, so you’re available to answer questions, or you can assign the project as homework and encourage students to share the results of their lesson. There’s no time constraint for the projects, so if your students are engrossed in the lesson or need more time to complete a project, you can easily extend it across multiple days.
In a traditional setting, it’s useful for students to compare screens and ask each other questions about the project they’re working on. While it’s not possible to share in the same way when teaching remotely, you can still encourage screen sharing on Zoom or Skype and facilitate questions through video. Or, if you’re teaching in a hybrid environment, consider teaching a project remotely and then allowing students to share the results of their coding when they’re in the classroom. For more tips on teaching Scratch remotely, check out Jared O’Leary’s resources page.
Don’t forget that CS can be incorporated into many different subject areas, such as science, music, social studies, art, language arts, foreign language, or math. I like to choose a project to go along with whatever my current focus is. For instance, if you’re a science teacher teaching about outer space, there’s an outer space coding project that would be a great fit.
BootUp works with administrators across the country to provide professional development workshops for educators for a district-wide approach. These are great for instilling you with the confidence to teach coding, and they’ll model effective ways to teach CS remotely. I’d also encourage you to join the BootUp forums. Here, you can post any question you have about CS and get help from teachers and CS professionals. There’s also an ongoing thread of resources and tips for facilitators.
BootUp is committed to empowering teachers to teach most effectively through virtual and hybrid environments, so if you’re struggling to transition to remote teaching or you’re simply overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, contact us.
More great resources
If you’re itching for even more great lesson plans, we’ve got your back. Here are some great free resources to help you on your computer science instructional journey:
BootUp PD - New to CS? No problem. BootUp’s remote learning resources are full of tips and engaging lessons to help you get started at home or in the classroom.
Code.org - Check out their full course catalog for free professional learning for teachers. The site has hundreds of projects and tutorials for fun, ready-to-teach lessons.
CSforAll - This robust resource has over one hundred curricula, so you can find the perfect fit for your students’ age, expertise, and interests.
ScratchEd - What better resource to teach Scratch than the actual Scratch community? You’ll find lesson plans, help, and even online meetups.
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