Looking for resources for MakeCode Arcade

I’ve been tasked to teach some HS students, about to enter university, who might be somewhat at risk. I was going to use MakeCode Arcade, and am looking for some resources. The AP CS Principles Course is too CS-specific, I think, and it only uses the Arcade hardware sporadically (because it’s emphasis really is on CS). Now I’m worried that I’ve really picked the wrong platform, and I should go with something like Snap! or Scratch or the like. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Hi, @mprogers . I can’t quite tell, based on your inquiry and the current date, what exactly you’re seeking. Are you helping these students now, or are you looking for curriculum for next year? What kind of curriculum are you seeking and, if you’re able to elaborate, what makes your students “somewhat at-risk?” (Obviously, no specific or personal details per FERPA.)

You also mentioned “Arcade hardware.” Are you looking to incorporate some sort of physical computing aspect (it’s sometimes called a “maker environment”) into your curriculum?

There are several options that would keep you within the MakeCode family; I’m just not quite sure how to advise you. Provide us with some additional detail, and we can point you in the right direction.

Thanks for your reply, AlexK. This is for a 2 week course that I’m teaching this summer (starting in about 3 weeks), to first generation students. I am looking for curriculum that will cover basic programming and CS concepts, using AdaFruit’s PyGamer.

Excellent!

Two weeks, of course, is not a whole lot of time, but you certainly can give your students a good head-start on structured programming concepts and algorithmic thinking. The PyGamer is a great device. While it’s not necessary to use any external hardware with MakeCode Arcade, I do like the additional sense of accomplishment that these devices give. Getting games to run on handheld devices somehow gives the projects that you create an added level of satisfaction.

I’ll provide you with two resources that, when combined, I think will give you plenty of material to cover over two weeks.

The first resource is the Introduction to Computer Science Part 1 course that is built into the MakeCode Arcade documentation:

Guiding your students through just that curriculum alone might take you the entire two weeks. However, there are three other parts that you can use if you need additional material. (Link to Part 2: https://arcade.makecode.com/courses/csintro2 .)

The second resource that I think you and your students will enjoy is Computer Science Unplugged.

https://www.csunplugged.org/en/topics/

Be sure to visit the classic site, linked at the bottom of the home page, for even more activities. Many of the activities are available in multiple languages.

Look through those materials and let me know what you think. If you need additional resources, then please feel free to holler.

Thanks again, Alex. I’d looked at this briefly, but based on your recommendation I’ll take a closer look at it. Do you (or anyone else reading this) have any guidance as to how this’ll work with my students - just finished HS, about to start university?

MakeCode Arcade works well for a wide range of ages and abilities, from late elementary school students to college undergraduates, and from students who have never programmed before to students who already know how to craft programs in, say, Python. The key is that MakeCode both meets students where they are and adapts to their abilities.

The MakeCode environment, like the predecessors which inspired it (like Logo), encourage play. Students will need a little guidance to get started, both with the environment itself and with concepts that they have not yet encountered. MakeCode, though, strongly supports independent exploration, allowing students to build their own connections and develop their own knowledge bases. In doing so, students should develop increased confidence as independent learners.

The courses built into the MakeCode Arcade documentation were written with those principles in mind. Students are given some guidance to build the foundations for a particular skill (e.g., loops, decision structures), and then are encouraged to play in guided but open-ended activities to enhance their knowledge. The intention is to develop life-long learning skills.

Please continue to feel free to ask questions.

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