The stereotype of the software developer or network engineer working alone for hours in the vacuum of a cubicle is dated.

Technology is a collaborative, creative industry. Yet, many schools don’t teach it in a way that gives students practice working in that kind of environment. Educators have embraced project-based and small-group learning in general education classrooms, but when it comes to lessons in coding and other technology subjects they’re still sending kids to conventional computer labs to work in silos.

Almost any classroom works better when students do a combination of individual and group activities using a variety of tools. Technology classrooms are no different. Educators who are less comfortable with technology as a subject may shy away from the more-evolved teaching approaches they use for subjects like language arts and history.

Fortunately, free online tools like Google Suite and Google Scratch offer ready-made lesson plans conducive to team learning and creative thinking while teaching kids basic software and coding skills. Imagine small groups of students working together in a Google Doc to write a story about an= historical figure they want to animate using Scratch. Then they embed their animation in a Google Slide and share their cartoon with the rest of the class. A lesson like this not only teaches technology skills, it helps students build interpersonal skills and gives them a chance to demonstrate knowledge they’ve gained from another class.

Group work in design classes also gives students a chance to help each other solve problems, reducing the likelihood that a kid will bail when a task gets too hard. Computer science can get complicated, and a kid working alone might give up more quickly than a kid who has peers to lean on.

We need students—especially girls—to start developing confidence in their development skills as early as possible because computer science careers are growing faster than any other profession. Learning the science is only part of the challenge. Today’s most successful technology professionals are strong communicators and polished critical and creative thinkers. And that all can start in your technology classrooms.

Vartek Classroom Technology Coaches can help you level up your computer science curriculum. Email info@vartek.com or call 800-954-2524.