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peter.skillen

Coding? Now!? Who Cares?

Posted by peter.skillen Apr 14, 2020

Note: Learning resources, webinars, and webinar recordings are posted below. SHARE widely.

Why Code Now?

These are challenging times. There are many important needs that teachers and students have—now, more than ever. So why would I post about 'coding'?!

 

Well, if you know me, you'll know:

 

  • I'm a little cantankerous at times about the current 'coding' and 'computational thinking' movement, and
  • I have deeply held beliefs about working with children to encourage and support their development as learners, human beings, and as members of a learning community.

 

**LOOK TO THE LEARNER poster: LOGO - First Children's Programming Language:

1986 Conference Title Belies Our Beliefs (w Lynda Colgan)

 

It is these I draw on now—as my colleagues and I create activities, webinars, and sites that kids and teachers can use as inspiration. Programming a computer should be an opportunity for children to think, to learn, and to be delighted! It should not be an assignment.

 

You can find much about these beliefs throughout my blog—particularly in the following posts (and others—have a browse):

 

 

"Programming a computer should be an opportunity for children to think, to learn, and to be delighted! It should not be an assignment."

Who Cares?

I care. I have cared for 40 years. I believe it is one area that provides a playground, or as Seymour Papert would have said, a 'mudpie' for kids (learners) to play—and, therefore, learn.

 

And, right now, I crave mudpies.

Code to Learn at Home!

I have been part of the federally funded CanCode Code To Learn project for several years now—an initiative funded by the Canadian government to support the learning of computational thinking, coding, and digital skills by our students and educators. TakingITGlobal runs the Code To Learn program.

 

Given the circumstances, and like many others, we have quickly adapted our program to serve Canadians in online spaces through CodeToLearn.ca/athome.

 

Up to now, we have been offering webinars and recordings on coding with Lynx and with micro:bits. We will continue this but will expand to include other useful digital skills and embed these in rich learning tasks that might provide a deeper and more useful context. As Brenda Sherry explains in her post "Thinking Routines – Definitely great for remote learning!" we are asking you what you need as Canadian teachers that we might be able to provide or support. So, please advise!

 

I will be following up this post with notions on 'knowledge construction' which actually has its roots in online learning spaces. We will also develop webinars to support that, if it might be useful to you.

What's Available Now?

Lynx Coding Free for Canadians

 

Lynx is a text-based, cloud-based programming environment that is the natural next step for kids that are ready to move on from using blocks to code but might not be quite ready to use more complex programming languages like Python or JavaScript. Think of it as a stepping stone! Projects made with Lynx are easily shareable.

 

It is available in Canadian English, French, and Ojibwe—with other Indigenous languages in development. 

 

Seymour Papert would be very proud of what his Canadian company, LCSI, has produced through this Code To Learn project. It is our mission to continue his work.

 

Head over and get a free account (if you are Canadian).

 

Slide Decks with Curricular Activities for Students

 

 

These titles are available at CanCodeToLearn.ca:

 

  • Geometric Fun ('Drawing' Kids into Being Mathematicians)
  • Géométrie en folie  - in French
  • Create an Interactive Greeting Card
  • Cartes de souhait interactive - in French
  • Create an Interactive Greeting Card - in Ojibwe
  • How to Create Secret Codes
  • Comment créer des codes secret  - in French
  • Coin Toss Probability
  • Create a Birthday Match Simulation
  • Create a Calculator App
  • Create a Working Ecosystem
  • Create a Gravity Simulation

 

Another in the works is:

 

  • Playing with Artificial Intelligence

 

You will also find project guides:

 

  • Interactive Story Project Coders' Guide
  • Creating a Race Simulation Coders' Guide

 

Current Listings for Upcoming Webinars

 

Head over to CodeToLearn.ca/athome to see the upcoming offerings for the next week. These offerings are for BOTH students and teachers. The descriptions will help you choose what you might want to use directly with your students. (Disclaimer: we are running hard! So it isn't always quite as up to date as we'd like! But, sign up and you'll get the latest news delivered to your mailbox!)

 

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http://codetolearn.ca/athome

Recordings of Previous Webinars

Missed a live session? Explore recordings online or via our Fire TVRoku or Apple TV apps!

 

 

Sign Up for Notifications

 

In the meantime, go to CodeToLearn.ca/athome and sign up for regular mailings.

 

As always, I appreciate being associated with these wonderful folks: the LCSI Team (Michael A. Quinn, Brenda Sherry, Alain Tougas, Elena, & Sergei), the Fair Chance Learning Team, and, of course, the Taking IT Global team! I am a better person for it.