Sunday, November 30, 2014


Thank you to master teacher and coding enthusiast Andrea Wilson Vazquez for this practical and inspirational guest blog on the Hour of Code. There are 452 sites in Minnesota doing an Hour of Code including 141 entire schools. 

Looking for a great way to provide people of all ages with an opportunity to try out coding this winter?  The upcoming Hour of Code as a part of Computer Science Education Week during December 8-14th could be just what you’re looking for!  

When I introduced the Hour of Code last year at the elementary school where I work, it generated a lot of excitement around coding, both from students and teachers, as it provided a great way to expose lots of students to coding in a focused and engaging way.  Many kids got really into the self-paced Angry Birds tutorials and the create-your-own Flappy Bird game on  Some students also explored more complex coding through Khan Academy and Codecademy.  Because of the momentum generated during CS Education Week, I decided to offer regular coding opportunities for students during the school day using Scratch and App Inventor, which many students had explored during the Hour of Code.  We’re looking forward to participating in the Hour of Code again this year, and are excited about exploring additional ways we can integrate coding into learning at all grade levels.

Want to find out more?  I've put together some basic information about the Hour of Code, the reasoning behind it, and some ways you can get involved!

What is the Hour of Code?

Here's some information straight from the Hour of Code website:
"The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Check out the tutorials. "
"The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104."

The tutorials and activities are also available before and after Computer Science Education Week, so you can check them out early or go back to them at any time.  

Why participate?

The Hour of Code is a great entry point into coding.  It provides self-directed, focused, and engaging coding activities (for free!) that are accessible for all learners, from pre-literate to literate, coding beginner to coding expert, young to old, techie to non-techie.  Since the Hour of Code is self-directed, this also means that the teacher does not need to be a coding fact, it's totally OK if you've never done any coding before!  You can try it out with your students, and authentically model critical thinking, problem solving, and perseverance as you go!

Computer science and coding are important because they build and develop cross-curricular skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, perseverance, and collaboration.

These skills will help prepare our students for their future careers, no matter what career they pursue.

Check out this awesome infographic created by Kodable that shares 5 reasons to teach your students to code:

How do I participate?

The best way to get started is to just get started!  Here's the link to the tutorials and activities - you can jump in and start coding right away!  No experience necessary!   You can use a tablet or computer, or go totally analog and try out some of the fun and interactive unplugged activities.

As an option, individuals can sign up for a account so that you can save your progress and make progress toward coding goals (there's an option for single sign-on with Google accounts, which is a nice option for schools with Google Apps for Education).  Teachers can also create classes to and can track students' progress from a teacher dashboard.  

Teachers, here is a link with step-by-step details on how to host an hour of code in your classroom.

Interested in getting your whole school signed up to participate, or want to support the Hour of Code in other ways?  Check out the info on the Hour of Code website.

Here are some additional resources for educators provided by

Interested in connecting during Computer Science Education Week?  Or, to share ideas before the Hour of Code?   Let me know!   Twitter: @wilsandrea

Want to follow Andrea's school blog?  It's here, and full of fun and actionable advice for educators. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Tomorrow -- Thursday November 13 -- is a day that Minnesotans celebrate generosity, and demonstrate generosity as they Give to the Max.   We would love it if you would make a tax-exempt donation to Code Savvy, or to one of our programs, including CoderDojoTC, TechnovationMN and the Northside Code Clubs.

On this day, we want also to salute the incredible generosity of our dedicated mentors.  These talented, knowledgeable, patient people are the brains -- and heart -- of all Code Savvy programs.  Already in 2014, over 200 volunteers have donated more than 4,000 (yes, four thousand) hours of their time to help your kids and all of our kids learn to code.   We simply could not do it without them. Many thanks to each and all!

The mission of Code Savvy is to inspire a diverse, new code-savvy generation,  bringing the joy and skill of coding and creative problem solving to kids and teens in Minnesota.  We have welcomed more than 2000 kids and teens in 2014, through programs including:

Your generous donation will help us bring coding to even more kids in 2015.  Please take a minute now and give generously to Code Savvy.  Your donation is fully tax-exempt and if you like, you can earmark it for a specific program.  You can give Give to the Max on November 13.  Or we welcome your gift anytime here.

Thank you so much!