What it is: Tynker is about the coolest way for kids to learn how to computer program- absolutely NO prior programming experience is needed! Tynker leads kids through design thinking through interactive courses where kids can learn how to program at their own pace.
Anyone can teach kids how to program (no really!) because with Tynker, you don’t need any prior knowledge or understanding. Tynker provides teachers with tools, curriculum and project ideas that will have your kids programming in no time! The Tynker curriculum pack starts with 6 lessons. Each one is appropriate for a 45 minute work period. Through the teacher dashboard, you can assign lessons to your students. A built-in tutor provides step-by-step instructions that guides students toward creating a working project. The teacher dashboard also helps you track student progress as they learn and master concepts. No data entry is required, students login and the teacher dashboard auto-magically populates.
When students have completed projects, they can publish them to the class showcase and be shared with family and friends through email, Google+, Twitter or Facebook.
Happily, Tynker works entirely in your web browser. There is nothing to install or setup. It is good to go right away! Equally happily, Tynker is FREE for your school! Woot!
How to integrate Tynker into your classroom: Not only will students learn the basics of programming with Tynker, they can use it to demonstrate their learning through their creations. Students can compose stories and comics that retell a story, historical event, recent field trip, fiction or non-fiction. Using the physics features, students can learn some basics about physics and cause the games they create to be more realistic. They can also demonstrate understanding of physics principles through their creations.
Students can use Tynker to create their own apps to show off their understanding of new math/science/social studies vocabulary, math or science concepts, retell stories, character sketches, games, animations and more. In addition to being able to create stories, games, and slideshow- students can also program original music and create computer art.
Don’t think you have time in your curriculum? Take a look around Tynker and think about natural ways you could use it to enhance your curriculum. Instead of asking your students to create a book report, have them program a retell using Tynker. This will take some additional background knowledge (they will need to go through a Tynker tutorial or two) BUT the outcome is well worth it. You will have asked your students to learn something new semi-independently, beefed up logical/mathematical thinking skills through programming, and invited students to think critically about what they read to tell the story to others through a program. Worth the additional 45 min! Students could demonstrate a math concept, show the steps in a science experiment, retell an event in history, and even compose their own music through program. When you start thinking like a maker as you play with Tynker, you will realize there are infinite opportunities for including Tynker in your curriculum. If you are still convinced that you can’t find the time in your heavily scheduled (sometimes scripted-sad) day, why not start a before or after school program, summer camp, lunch club, etc.?
At Anastasis, we have Crave classes every Wednesday. These classes are offered by our teachers every 5 weeks. Teachers choose an area of learning that they crave and create a class based on that (we have everything from programming, to cooking, to forensic science, hockey history, junk orchestra, iPad rock band, to chess and da Vinci art). Students get a list of classes at the beginning of a new block, and get to choose a class that they crave. The result is a wonderful mixed age (k-8) class of passions colliding. The kids LOVE Wednesdays for this awesome hour of our day. I’m excited to offer a Tynker class for our next block of classes (along with playing with our new Romo robot!), I think this is going to be a popular class!
Tips: If your school uses Google apps for education like we do, your students can log in with their Google information.
What do you think of Tynker? How do you plan to use it in your classroom?