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Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Summer is almost here and it's a great time to learn a new skill that you can bring into your classroom next fall. One of the skills that seems to be mentioned in almost every education periodical these days is programming or coding. Learning to program isn't as difficult as you might think that is. Each of the following services make it relatively easy to learn to program your own apps. As you learn to program your own app, you'll start to see how your students can do the same and use those skills in your classroom next fall.

MIT App Inventor
Want to create a fully functional Android app? If so, the MIT App Inventor is the place to start. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.




Metaverse - DIY Augmented Reality Apps
Metaverse launched last summer and became an almost hit with teachers. Through the Metaverse Studio anyone can program an augmented reality app without having any prior coding or programming knowledge. You construct your app in the Metaverse Studio by dragging and dropping media and logic blocks into a sequence. Metaverse Studio has been used by teachers to create digital Breakout games, to create language arts games, and to create local history tours.



Scratch
I couldn't write a blog post about learning to program without mentioning Scratch and ScratchJr. Scratch is a free program designed to introduce users to programming concepts. Through Scratch you can create animations, games, and videos. Students program in Scratch through a process of dragging and dropping blocks into sequences. Each block represents a command. Users test their programs right in their web browsers and instantly know if the program works or doesn't work.

There are many places to find Scratch tutorials, but the best place to start is on the Scratch for Educators site. There you will find many tutorials, activity guides, and a curriculum guide. The ScratchEd community is the place to go for inspiration from other teachers who are using Scratch in their classrooms. For example, in ScratchEd you might find something like this Google Doc filled with ideas for using Scratch in elementary school mathematics lessons.