Learning to code is the new literacy for students. Just like we study science to learn about the world around us, technology is an increasingly important part of our lives. Learning to code is an essential skill for the 21st-century learner.
Typing Agent has introduced transitional coding exercises to teach students accuracy and fluidity in programming. This will help them have success typing real code in a freeform environment and minimize their frustration.
We suggest students first learn the logic and functions of a program with something like Code.org or Scratch. These drag-and-drop programs do not teach real code, but they do provide an easy environment in which to experiment with everything from loops to variables.
The next step is to actually use real code to program. The problem we have discovered in teaching kids to code at the next level has to do with their difficulty understanding how even one small mistake can keep a program from working. While the drag- and-drop environments give students confidence, they also teach them that there isn’t really a need to pay attention to the details in coding.
This is a lot like giving students full paragraph blocks in writing and allowing them to just drag and drop them in the correct order. The sentence structure in each paragraph is missed and not practiced. Does it matter that you have a capital at the beginning of each sentence? Are periods needed? Grammar is the very structure of writing.
Learning to code relies even more on getting everything right. When students actually start typing code, they can quickly get frustrated because the errors mount because their mastery of the many symbols needed to type code is still limited. This is why Typing Agent, unlike other sites, emphasizes how to type code correctly while a student is learning about a computer language.
After students learn how each symbol and word must be typed precisely and fluently, they are ready to transition to a more freeform coding exercise through which they may apply their problem-solving skills and creativity. Even if students have already learned to code, practicing how to type it quickly and accurately is a skill everyone can improve on.
The reward when they finish the first set of lessons is a brand-new typing game they can play, or interesting animations in Python. The Advanced Code lessons challenge the students even further, requiring them to type in the correct code syntax from memory or by using their in-app and out-of-app resources (much like professional programmers!).