December is Computer Science education month. The first week of December is the kickoff with Computer Science education week December 3-9. The emphasis on Computational Thinking is becoming more prevalent in education today. Coding is a great way to foster those skills. Over the last 5 years I have been using the website Code.org with my 5th and 4th grade students to teach them the concepts of coding. However, just 3 years ago, at my school, we began an initiative to give all students access to these skills by creating a class that students visit approximately 1 time a week for 50 minutes just like they would go to PE, art, music, or media, that focuses on Computational Thinking and specifically, Coding. The elementary age is the perfect time to begin building the foundation for these skills just like any other academic subject. Once a solid foundation is laid than when they go on to middle school, high school and beyond, they will have a leg-up on those future careers.
Mitch Resnick, creator of the Scratch software, in his TED talk shares about the importance of why kids should learn to code. It’s a way for students to create and use their imagination. They continue to have a sense of accomplishment and it supports multiple standards in math and science. The importance of the process of design and taking an idea and creating something functional out of that idea.
Elementary age students need a lot of exploration and hands-on time when learning to code. With so many resources and materials out there, here a few of my favorites for elementary age.
Thanks for joining me! My goal is to further share some of the solid activities, resources, and know-how that I have been working on for the past 2+ years now. I am also hoping to make some connections and learn a few things as well. I teach at a rural school of 750+ students in Washington County, Maryland. With my 15 years of experience teaching middle school technology, 5th and 4th grades, and now my most recently created venture of teaching elementary coding and STEM skills, it’s time to share out what we do.
Computational Thinking is a concept that has really come to the forefront of education. Coding skills and resources have become the driving force behind reinforcing and teaching this concept. Fortunately, many schools are now putting this practice into action. Unfortunately, at a lot of schools, it is getting put into an already packed area of Library and Media. While I am glad to see it happening, I believe that Coding and STEM skills deserve their own class. While yes, “digital and coding” literacy is important and considered an essential nowadays, “literature and research” literacy should not be put aside. The two content areas can co-exist but “digital and coding” literacy needs its own place to shine.
Now going on our third year, our school has successfully implemented this strategy. Our students participate daily in the arts and literacy by attending a Wellness / PE class, music class, art class, library and media class and a Coding and STEM class. The following Edutopia article states, “kids who code in the classroom have the same neuroplasticity as those who learn a second language when they are young.”
Coding in the Classroom: A Long-Overdue Inclusion
It is important our students develop a solid foundation in computational thinking. It is not an option to just dabble in this content here and there, it is imperative that students are immersed in it regularly.
When I trained as a teacher, the position that I hold now did not exist at that time. However, the experiences that I immersed myself in brought me to where I am today. Our students need this immersion today to have the skills they need for their future.
"Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter." — Izaak Walton
Elementary school teacher, teaching Computer Science and STEM as an Encore/Specials class. An advocate for Computational Thinking by the means of Computer Science Coding and Technology skills.