What is coding & Why Should You Integrate it into Your Classroom?

Before I dive into why coding is my new favorite thing to do with students, let me tell you what exactly coding is. I want to preface this post by saying that I have taken professional development through Code.org, so I am going off of what they define coding as and I will link them down below for you to explore more!

Code.org was included in a post where I shared websites to increase student engagement, you can read that post here. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it! 

This post contains affiliate links through the Amazon Influencer Program. When you click a link and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

What is coding?

According to learnersdictionary.com, coding is, “a set of instructions for a computer”, but really it’s so much more! 

I define coding as taking a big problem and breaking it down into smaller ones for a computer to understand. It’s the language that a computer understands to function correctly. 

Why should I use coding in my math class?

I already know what you’re thinking – “I teach math, coding does not apply to my class” and I am here to tell you that it does!

Not only does coding promote problem-solving, but it helps students to take a big problem and break it down into smaller steps to solve it. By leading with the fact that coding relates to technology, you can promote your students as coders and engage them in a whole new light!

Coding is not writing a script on Java or Python and hitting play, it is so much more! There are a ton of unplugged coding activities that you can try with your kiddies, in fact, I am going to give you one for FREE that will get your students engaged in rounding whole numbers. You can snag that freebie at the end of this post.

Where do I start using coding in my math classroom?

I have a list of books that I have used in my classroom to help students understand what coding is and I listed them here for you. I am also going to let you in on a little secret: these books helped me to understand coding too! 

For real, check out some of these books to help you understand what exactly coding is and how it can be so useful in your classroom. 

Books to Introduce Coding Into Your Classroom

  • How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk 
    • This book is loved by ALL the students I’ve read it to! From Pre-K to 5th grade, they all loved it and gained something from it!
  • How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk
    • Another fave of my students! The older kids liked it a little more than the younger ones. I would use this in a 3-5 classroom.
  • Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Volume 1) (People Who Shaped Our World) by Laurie Wallmark
    • I loved to read these books during Women’s History month to get the girls in my class engaged in coding! Definitely a great book for grades 3-5.
  • Computer Decoder: Dorothy Vaughan, Computer Scientist (Picture Book Biography) by Andi Diehn
    • This is another book my kids loved! It is more suitable for grades 3-5 and it gave my students of color a woman to look up to! 
  • Human Computer: Mary Jackson, Engineer (Picture Book Biography) by Andi Diehn
    • Same as above, this is great for grades 3-5. I love bringing non-fiction books into my tech class to help students make connections to what they use today and how it came about. 
  • Gabi’s Fabulous Functions by Caroline Karanja
    • This is on my TBR (to be read) list for the Summer and I will be looking for ways to integrate it into my classroom! Check back later to see what I think!
  • Girls Who Code: How To Code Your Own Program (Coding Books for Kids) by Reshma Saujani
    • This one is also on my TBR list, but it is highly recommended and on the list from Common Sense Media, so I will be checking it out! I plan on starting a Girls Who Code club at my school. It’s a great organization trying to get more women in STEM fields. 

If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber like myself, then you will have access to some of these titles with the subscription! If you’re not, you can click here to get a month of Kindle Unlimited for free! (affiliate link)

Okay, okay, I know that was a lot to digest, but by now you should be convinced that you need to be integrating coding into your curriculum! Honestly, it isn’t as scary as it seems. Take it from me – I am a math teacher turned tech teacher with NO tech teaching background. I was able to figure it out, which means you can too! 

TL;DR

Coding is more than the language that computers use to function. It is taking a big problem and breaking it down into smaller problems. These skills can be useful in your math classroom to help kids problem-solve.

There are a TON of unplugged coding activities to get your kiddies thinking critically and problem-solving. You can grab this freebie that I’ve created to try it out in your classroom (or for yourself to see the hype!). 

Get started with coding in your classroom with these books:

  • How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk 
  • How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk
  • Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Volume 1) (People Who Shaped Our World) by Laurie Wallmark
  • Computer Decoder: Dorothy Vaughan, Computer Scientist (Picture Book Biography) by Andi Diehn
  • Human Computer: Mary Jackson, Engineer (Picture Book Biography) by Andi Diehn
  • Gabi’s Fabulous Functions by Caroline Karanja
  • Girls Who Code: How To Code Your Own Program (Coding Books for Kids) by Reshma Saujani

That’s what I have for you today! If I have convinced you to think about integrating coding into your math classroom, send me a dm on Instagram to let me know! 

alexandra

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Hi, I'm Alexandra!

I am a fourth-grade math teacher turned elementary tech teacher. I help upper elementary math teachers like YOU get organized digitally and engage students with digital tools. When I’m not teaching, you can find me taking long walks with my dog, Frannie, or travelling (especially to Disney World)!