Note: This app is currently only available on iPad air models. Schools that can “currently” use this app are: Elk Meadow, Pine Ridge, Miller, La Pine Elementary, and Silver Rail.
Apple recenly released a learn to code app called “Swift Playgrounds”. All iPad apps are written in the Swift programing language. Therefore, this app is ideal for students to learn and work with on the iPad. The app itself is fun and easy to use. Swift playgrounds is less “game like;” than other learn to code apps and keeps the focus on the language rather than the animation. Because of this, struggling readers may find some of the instructions challenging.
Setting up the lesson environment for Swift playgrounds:
- Make certain your classroom iPads are new enough to run Swift (if they are not, see lessons on Hopscotch or visit the code.org website)
- Download Swift Playgrounds from self service
- Inside the app, download “Fundimentals of Swift” (try not to let students jump to more advanced modules, or they may be lost)
- Have your class watch “Everyone Code Video”. This is a great way to motivate students who might be intimidated by coding or not understand what it is.
- Present the getting started slideshow and complete the first lesson as a whole group.
The lessons become more advanced rather quickly. There are several oportunities to promote critical thinking and problem solving as students enter lessons where they must read and repair code instead of create. Swift playgrounds is probably most appealing for students in grades 3-5. Older students who persevere through the initial lessons will certainly enjoy later modules.