Self-paced platform teaches real-world coding skills through creating games and animations

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Used by schools and coding academies throughout the United States, Blackbird was built to address the gap in coding education – in a fun and engaging platform that can be administered by non-technical and technically trained teachers, instructors, and parents. Blackbird’s curriculum guides students through coding lessons aligned with standards identified in the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Math and English – as well as the Computer Science Teachers Association Computer Science standards. Blackbird’s integrated LMS enables instructors to easily track student progress, review code and make direct comments on student coding creations.

 

Formats/platforms used:

 

Web-based, Mac or PC

 

Primary website’s URL:

www.blackbirdcode.com

 

Problem solved:

Blackbird was created to bridge the curriculum gap between intro “block-based” lessons and intimidating and difficult, advanced computer science coursework that is taught in text-based programming languages.

 

Grade or age range:

In schools, the “curriculum gap” occurs in middle school, but Blackbird can be used by people of any age, including high-schoolers, college students and adults, who are interested in learning “real world” coding skills.

 

Help with Special needs?

Yes. Blackbird is being successfully used with students who have special learning needs. We also offer ongoing one-on-one training and support.

 

Topic/standards:

Common Core, Next Generation Science and CSTA Learning Standards

 

Lesson time needed:

Teachers can be up and running with the platform after just a few hours of exploration and preparation.

The ‘Games and Animations’ curriculum is typically completed by middle schoolers over the course of a school year, or broken into two semester courses over multiple years.

 

Pricing model:

Our foundational lessons are free and provide a full overview of the tools, environment and concepts used by professional coders. Our advanced plan starts at $10 per month for a single student – and we offer discounted class rates.

 

Additional services needed:

All teachers that start with Blackbird receive personalized one-on-one training with an experienced classroom teacher. These meetings ensure the teacher knows how to best use this tool with their students, as well as provides ongoing support throughout the school year.

Blackbird is a one-stop solution for bringing rigorous, engaging programming education into a classroom. No outside or additional materials are required to start.

 

What makes Blackbird unique?

  • Addresses the “Curriculum Gap” in Computer Science education
  • Can be administered by all instructors and parents – regardless of technical expertise
  • Utilizes the only educational version of a professional programming language: JavaScript
  • Students use skills to build games, animations and more

 

Characteristics:

Blackbird is a bridge between accessible, block-based, beginner code learning tools and difficult, unfriendly, authentic engineering tools. To make that connection we’ve made sure that Blackbird is easy and inviting to navigate, presents information clearly and concisely, but also serves as a robust programming tool. Easy to read error messages, a built-in debugger and flexible code editor make Blackbird an accessible tool for learners to type their first lines of code.

The learning activities in Blackbird are built from the idea of a gradual release of responsibility. To start, students are led through very scaffolded, structured lessons that introduce new concepts, and offer lots of support as learners create model computer programs. After some practice, student’s skills are tested with Challenge lessons that offer fewer supports. Once a student has demonstrated mastery of those concepts, they are encouraged to try Guided Projects in our Sandbox environment, where other supports are removed until students are creating unique code projects all on their own.

Learners progress through learning activities at their own pace, and have lots of opportunities to retry lessons, try optional activities, practice their vocabulary, solve programming puzzles, or explore programs in the Workshop. Students, with the guidance of their teacher, choose a learning path that feels right for them.

 

Here's what users are saying:

“From March through June I taught coding to approximately 180 middle school students with Blackbird and appreciated the thorough layout of the lessons, which are well-paced for remote instruction and keep kids interested. With my assignments posted an hour before our synchronous sessions, a number of students would complete the day's activity prior to class, and then complete the "Challenge" option for that lesson during our live session. In a word: students like the Blackbird platform. I've taught coding with other popular resources, but Blackbird is more pedagogically effective due to quick-to-accomplish tasks where practice scaffolds to mastery in subsequent lessons.

-- Pete Madden, Technology teacher/Librarian Portland Public Schools

“Blackbird has been the best thing for my students. Not just because of distance learning but because of the logical step to advance skills from block coding to programming. The lessons make sense and the ability to allow students to work at their own pace allows the teacher to support students according to their unique needs.”

--Ben Durham, technology teacher for Portland Public Schools

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