For nearly 10 years, Bri has focused on creating content to address the questions and concerns educators have about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the iCEV curriculum system.
But some teachers are strictly looking for coding resources -- not a full digital literacy and career readiness curriculum.
One of the most popular middle school computer science resources is Code.org.
With more than 1 million teachers using Code.org, it’s likely that you know someone who uses it in their classroom.
But just because other educators use it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you and your students.
So, should you use Code.org for your middle school computer science classes?
In this post, we’ll answer five common questions middle school teachers ask about Code.org:
What is Code.org?
What’s available for middle school?
What are the benefits?
What are the drawbacks?
When does Code.org work best?
We’ll also share a few alternatives to Code.org to ensure you have the best resources for your needs!
1. What Is Code.org?
Code.org is a nonprofit organization focused on providing opportunities for any student to learn computer science skills.
To accomplish this, Code.org provides free access to computer science curriculum and resources for teachers and students from grades K-12.
So, what resources can you find on Code.org specifically for middle school classes?
2. What’s Available for Middle School Computer Science?
Code.org organizes its resources into three sections:
Hour of Code activities
Below we’ll dive into the details of what to expect from each type of resource.
Code.org Middle School Computer Science Curriculum
Code.org has developed full curriculum courses for grades K-12. The middle school curriculum is called Computer Science (CS) Discoveries and is designed for students in grades 6-10.
The CS Discoveries course is made up of six units:
Unit 1 - Problem Solving and Computing
Unit 2 - Web Development
Unit 3 - Animations and Games
Unit 4 - The Design Process
Unit 5 - Data and Society
Unit 6 - Physical Computing
Each unit is broken down into chapters that include lessons, activities, projects, and assessments for students to work through.
You’ll also find an abundance of accompanying teacher materials, such as teaching guides, lesson plans, rubrics, and discussion questions.
Overall, CS Discoveries is designed as a stand-alone curriculum that can be used in either a semester- or year-long computer science course.
Hour of Code Activities
The Hour of Code activities on Code.org are one-hour tutorials designed to introduce students to the basics of computer science.
These activities were originally developed to be used during Computer Science Education Week as part of the Hour of Code. However, anyone can access the activities to use any day of the year.
Each activity comes with a teacher guide that includes objectives, instructions, teaching tips, discussion prompts, and more.
Overall, these Hour of Code tutorials can act as stand-alone activities in a middle school class to engage students while reinforcing computer science skills and concepts.
Supplemental Resources on Code.org
The final resources provided by Code.org are the supplemental pieces that can be used in a variety of ways in your middle school classroom.
Some of these resources are designed to spark your students’ interest in learning about computer science. They can be a great way to lead up to your first coding lesson or activity.
Other resources can help build on the coding skills your students have already learned. These include simulated programming environments for students to create simple apps, animations, games, and webpages.
3. What Are the Benefits of Code.org?
Code.org provides three main benefits to middle school teachers:
Flexibility of implementation
Alignment to CSTA standards
If you’re like most middle school elective teachers, you have a tight classroom budget.
Luckily, Code.org provides all of its coding curriculum and resources for free.
That means you won’t need to blow your yearly budget on one resource.
Instead, you can focus on finding which pieces of Code.org best fit the needs of you and your students -- without the fear of a price tag influencing your decisions.
Flexibility of Implementation
Depending on your course sequence and standards, you may spend anywhere from a few weeks to an entire year teaching computer science skills to your students.
That’s why Code.org provides resources to fit into any length of time you need.
If you teach a semester or full-year course, CS Discoveries curriculum will help fill your syllabus.
If you only need a few activities and supplemental pieces, the other content on the website can help fill out your schedule.