Code to Learn with BrainPOP’s Creative Coding
In my role at BrainPOP, I meet teachers from all over the globe through conferences, virtual events, and the Certified BrainPOP Educator (CBE) program. I love engaging with this community and unpacking trends and challenges when it comes to their day-to-day teaching. When leading community sessions, one common topic of discussion is the expectation to introduce coding to students without having any prior experience.
BrainPOP’s Creative Coding was created, in partnership with Scratch and Vidcode, to help teachers weave coding into all areas of their curriculum, without compromising their lesson plan. The tool’s project-based approach makes it easy for students to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic, while building computational thinking and coding skills.
Whether you’re an educator who doesn’t know where to begin or someone who simply doesn’t have time to plan a lesson, you’re not alone. These are the most frequent questions and concerns I hear all the time from educators like you:
How do I teach creative coding to all my students with no experience myself?
With built-in prompts and scaffolded instruction, students (and teachers) can approach each Creative Coding project step-by-step. Requiring no teaching prep or prior experience–all you have to do is jump in and watch your students create magic!
How do I carve out time to teach coding when there is so much to cover in the curriculum already?
You do not need to carve out extra time in your lesson to implement coding. Creative Coding is content driven and project based so it can be integrated into any subject area you’re already teaching. Students can use their background knowledge and relevant vocabulary meaningfully through projects within Creative Coding, allowing teachers to assess their understanding of a topic. The best part is Creative Coding gives students the space to express what they know and apply coding skills at the same time. This means that they’re not just learning to code, they’re coding to learn.
One of my favorite examples that highlights this is from Natalia Rasavong, a CBE who taught a dual language science class. She used the BrainPOP Water Cycle topic to find activities that incorporated language and subject matter at the same time. To assess students’ understanding of the vocabulary and content, students created a museum about Water Cycle in Spanish.
Not all students will go on to become computer programmers, so why do they all need to learn to code?
While applying coding in their lessons, students are not just learning coding as a skill, they are also exercising their computational thinking skills. “Why Code?” is a resource created by BrainPOP for teachers new to coding. In the movie, Nat explains that computational thinking entails the following:
- Breaking down complex problems into manageable chunks.
- Finding patterns
- Identifying what’s most important
- Developing step by steps solutions
All of these skills are transferable and can help students find creative solutions to any problem. I’ll often share with teachers that when they use Creative Coding they will make mistakes, and that’s the desired goal! By making mistakes in your code and solving them, you’re learning to “debug.” Testing and iterating is a skill that can help you and your students tackle anything in life!
Remember, the goal isn’t to ensure every student becomes a proficient coder. It’s to expose all students to the experience of coding. This shift from understanding programs to creating programs seems to be the natural evolution of digital literacy.
Priya Mathur works at BrainPOP as Sr. Manager of Educator Programming. In this role, she engages teachers globally on how BrainPOP can meet the specific needs of students, teachers, and administrators. She is enthusiastic about how technology can remove barriers to learning and started her journey in EdTech in the classroom as a teacher.