The biggest challenges in teaching students to code

If there’s something we know, is that teaching our students how to code is a must. In some sort of way, teaching them how to code is teaching them a second language; a language that will enable them to succeed in the future, and to create outstanding stuff that will improve the world we live in. Think about yourself when you were in school learning a second language, your teachers most likely said that you were going to need that language to have more opportunities in the future, and to understand how “the world of the future will work”, well… same thing here.

Your students need to learn how to code because the workforce of tomorrow requires that from them, and because the world will function in a totally different way from the one we know; and to succeed in that new reality, coding is key.

That being said, teaching how to code is not always easy for educators. Finding a smooth way to deliver 21st-century skills to our learners, through coding becomes a bigger challenge every day. In this article, we want to go over the 3 biggest challenges in teaching students how to code… and don’t worry, by the end of the article, we will give you some tips and solutions to work your way around them in the best possible way.

3 challenges when teaching your class how to code 

Many teachers get highly frustrated when they begin to decide how to teach their students how to code. Since we live in a hyper-connected society with very simple and fast access to information, teaching itself is not what it used to be. Modern authors and researchers say that the figure of the “teacher” should move into a “guide” shape, changing and modifying the structure of the student-educator interaction.

Today, we want to mention 3 of the main challenges guides, teachers, and educators face when teaching their students how to code… and if there’s any challenge you are facing and we didn’t mention here, we invite you to join our online community for STEM teachers and discuss it with our team, and with the other members of the group.

Ready to go over the challenges? Here we go… may the code be with you!

Engaging your students with coding 

 One of the main challenges is how to engage your students with coding. Numerous teachers around the world don’t know which elements to add to their curricula in order for this to happen. As you know, having your students engaged is fundamental if you want to achieve your class’ goals.

You are not alone! Many teachers face this issue, and they solve it by including different fun elements into their classrooms that can definitely help to turn it into an engaging experience for learners.

Adding elements from gamified learning to your coding class can definitely help you and your students have a better experience when programming in the classroom. These elements will allow them to experience the delivered knowledge from a totally different place, enabling them to focus on their learning process and not only on standardized tests at the end of it.

Another thing that can help you engage your students is trying out the “flipped classroom” model.  The goal of the flipped classroom is to reverse the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content also outside of the classroom, so the classroom itself turns into an active space of hands-on learning. Have you ever considered doing this?

 Screens: With you or against you 

Screen time, oh screen time! The eternal fight teachers, educators, and parents have with their students and kids, respectively. Kids spend way too much time in front of screens: in their cellphones, playing video games, on the internet, watching TV, etc… but, what if we could turn this screen time into something positive?

Many teachers have a no-cellphone policy in the classroom, but is this the right thing to do? Another one of the main challenges teachers face when teaching students how to code (or actually, when teaching students anything) is how to get them off their screens and pay attention to the content that is being delivered.

One potential solution that you can use, especially during coding classes, is to use their screens in your favor. Turn screens into an educational tool you will use to give coding and STEM classes. Your students won’t have to leave their cellphones aside if their cellphones are the “notebook” or “scrapbook” they are going to use during your class.

Create games, dynamics, and environments in which you’ll adapt the traditional way in which you give class, to include screens into the optimal learning environment. Tools like Kahoot, Typeform, Annoto, Pear Deck, and CoderZ can engage your students, and allow them to learn while turning their screen time into something positive and fruitful.

How to teach coding if I don’t know how to code?  

 Lack of time, new educational tools, advanced pedagogical methodologies, and tremendous innovations in the contents we are supposed to deliver in the classroom are only a few of the reasons to explain why it is super hard for teachers to stay in the loop. A simple question arises all the time: how do I teach how to code, if I don’t know how to code?

The answer to this terrifying question is very simple, and it is closely related to the technological tools that are appearing nowadays. Today, teachers can find a few tools they can use in the classrooms that are not only beneficial for their students, but also for themselves. Tools that integrate an extensive curriculum and class-plan, together with engaging tools for the students.

Thanks to these tools, teachers can use gamified and online learning environments to teach their students how to code, by following the included class curriculum, and with no need of an extensive prior-knowledge on coding.

CoderZ, for example, has 3 different curriculums to offer teachers: Cyber Robotics 101, Cyber Robotics 102 and Coding Robots (this one is available both in English and in Spanish). In this online learning environment, students will learn how to program their very own virtual robot in a friendly platform that uses both a blockly visual-code and Java.Start teaching coding today. Don’t be afraid  

There’s no need to be afraid: You can teach anything, and you will not be alone in the process. CoderZ was created to make robotics, STEM, and coding accessible, affordable, and scalable for everyone, and that includes both students and teachers.

If you’d like to receive more insights on specific group dynamics, strategic pedagogical approaches, or any other teaching tips, stay updated about CoderZ’s webinars, join our upcoming sessions and receive a ton of insightful, interactive opportunities to become a more prepared educator.

If you want to try out what CoderZ is all about, register for a 5-day free trial and begin your adventure of teaching your students how to code, even if you don’t really know how to do it yourself.

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