Many school boards in Ontario have geared up for the global Hour of Code event this week during Computer Science Education Week. Superior-Greenstone District School Board (SGDSB) in Northern Ontario has taken a unique approach with supporting and encouraging K-12 learners to not only participate in the Hour of Code, but to go beyond and to build on this initiative with their annual “Beyond the Hour of CODE Challenge”.
Stacey Wallwin, SGDSB’s Technology Enabled Teaching and Learning Contact has led the challenge each year and it has proven to be successful in increasing awareness about the importance of computational thinking and encouraging widespread participation within the board.
Wallwin believes that coding is becoming a new digital literacy that teaches students to not only code, but to be computational thinkers while practicing and demonstrating 21st century competencies such as critical thinking/problem solving, creativity, learning to learn/self-directed learning, global citizenship, communication and collaboration. “We are preparing them for the increasingly digital and globally-connected world beyond our Superior-Greenstone borders. We want our students to be the creators of technology not just consumers,” she explains.
Wallwin emphasizes that teachers are not expected to be coding experts in her classrooms. “We want them to begin the journey as co-learners with their students. We don’t ask that they be coders, we ask that they be learners!” She has been amazed at the mindset students develop as they practice computational thinking. One grade 2 Beardmore Public School student commented on the frequency of errors, growth mindset and subsequent learning: “You mess up all the time because you don’t know, but you debug.”
We asked Wallwin to share how her school board implements the “Beyond the Hour of CODE Challenge” and she was more than happy to do so. She has shared the rationale for her approach as well as details on how the weekly challenges were implemented. The ultimate goal is equity of learning and to ensure all SGDSB students have the same opportunities to engage with computational thinking as students in other boards.
Check out the Beyond the Hour of CODE Challenge here, including a link to each of the challenges.
Stacey Wallwin has been an educator with Superior-Greenstone District School Board in various capacities throughout her career. She is currently the Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact (TELTC)and District e-Learning Coordinator (DeLC). She is a passionate reader and life-long learner who believes that anything is possible when we keep our learners at the forefront of everything we do. She leverages the power of technology to break down the geographical barriers that isolate learners in her board, to connect learners and ideas and celebrate the joy in her schools.
Stacey is most grateful for all her colleagues, and mentors who have generously shared their wisdom, best practices and classrooms with her over the years, and most importantly the students who continue to push her thinking and big ideas. She is grateful to be a part of the coding conversation, and acknowledges that it is only through her relationships and professional connections that she has been empowered to support others.
She enjoys time outdoors on the shores of Lake Superior, time with her nephews, and ship watching on Lake Huron. She is a self-professed boatnerd!
Visit her blog, Learning, Sharing and a Leap of Faith, at: swallwin.wordpress.com.