By: Tracy Rea
When I found out that I was going to be beginning my Masters of Education in Digital Technology journey, I knew the learning floodgates would open. Not long after receiving my acceptance, I happened to catch a news special about the implementation of technology curriculum in schools around England which began September 1, 2014. Intrigued by this broadcast, I listened to how the curriculum was being implemented throughout England, Teaching Coding in Canada, CBC News. This is exactly what I have wondered myself. Why is Canada or Ontario lagging behind in implementing K to 8 Technology Curriculum?
So my journey began, looking at how I could integrate Coding into my grade 2/3 classroom in September, knowing that computer programming was not a part of the Ontario Curriculum. I reassured my supportive Administration team that I would still be covering curriculum expectations while introducing coding to my grade 2/3 students…it is an EQAO year you know…and that my students weren’t going to be missing out on curriculum to ‘do Coding’ but that their learning would be enhanced.
Here are the 4 easy steps to how I began Coding in my classroom:
1. Research an appropriate site or application
I researched Coding sites and coding applications and found Code.org, a free online computer science education site for teachers, students and parents. I watched and introductory video What Most Schools Don’t Teach featuring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Chris Bosh, will.i.am (Love Him!), Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi and Hadi Partovi. This site was perfect for ‘Newbie Coders’ which provides teachers with free programming curriculum and scaffolded lessons based on the students’ level and knowledge as well as a Teacher Dashboard to monitor student progress. Now I was really inspired about introducing my class to coding!
2. Use Teacher Resources and Register for ‘Hour of Code’
While on the Code.org site, I noticed a section ‘Hour of Code’ which had Teacher resources on the ‘How To Guide’ that was launching on December 7-13, 2015. Of course, I registered my class to be a part of this global event, which made it even more exciting for me to share my plan with my students of learning how to code.
3. Use Unplugged and Plugged-in lessons
Beginning with the first lessons in the Coding Course Curriculum, I set the stage for what my students were about to learn using a variety of unplugged and plugged-in activities and relating these activities to Geometry, Writing and Art curriculum expectations. My class loved the unplugged activities just as much as the plugged-in ones, especially when they had to use coding language to move ‘Ms. Rea Robot’ from the front of the room to the back of the room. They had to ‘de-bug’ me as I moved right outside into the hallway or banged into desks! I noticed that my students were learning quite quickly and applying their knowledge to problem solve through all of the activities, so I decided to pick and choose from the lessons as needed.
4. Build excitement
December 7th arrived and my students were excited for ‘Hour of Code’ and were ready to begin building codes with Anna and Elsa characters from ‘Frozen’. The students eagerly logged onto their personal account with a Coding Partner. One person was the ‘Driver’ and the other the ‘Passenger’ working their way through the lessons. Each student had a role in helping to complete the lesson and when another group was stuck, the ‘Passenger’ was allowed to go and support the ‘Driver’ and ‘Passenger’ of another group. The student collaboration allowed me to circulate between groups and share in their learning and roars of excitement as they completed each lesson allowing them to move on to the next. I really didn’t have to ‘teach’ anything…they were teaching each other! I took great pictures of this engaging, learning time to share with my colleagues and parents and sent them on Remind! Throughout the rest of the week, the students participated in the other ‘Hour of Code’ activities, Minecraft, Star Wars and explored in the Artist section as well.
With the help of Code.org I was able to implement Coding into my core curriculum right away! This is just the beginning of my computer programming journey with my students. I didn’t have to take any courses; I didn’t need a computer for every student; I didn’t need to be the ‘Driver’ of the lessons; and best of all my students didn’t have to ‘miss out’ on Math, Language Arts or Art curriculum because coding was embedded into all of these learning areas and now my students understand the important connections between them, while having fun!
Hadi Partovi on Computer Science Co-Founder of Code.org Hadi Partovi TEDtalk on Computer Science
Why Kids Should Learn to Code Parent Information
ScratchEd Free Introductory Computing Curriculum Guide (K-12)
Tynker Coding for Kids~ Free and Purchased Course Tools and Lessons related to Core Curriculum (K-8)
Davis, V. (2013). 15 Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer). Retrieved from 15 Ways to Teach Students Coding
Missio, E. (2015, June 9). Why Kids Should Learn To Code (And How To Get Them Started) Learning. Retrieved from Why Kids Should Learn to Code
National curriculum in England: Design and technology programmes of study. (2013, September 11). Retrieved from Technology Curriculum in England
Silcoff, S. (2016, January 17). B.C. to add computer coding to school curriculum. Retrieved from British Columbia to Add Computer Technology to Curriculum
What is Coding? (2016). Retrieved from What is Coding?