The weekly challenges are designed to meet a variety of learning needs, with multiple activities and entry points, while honouring student choice and voice. The challenges are combined with instructions, and resources to ensure ease of facilitation by the educators.
Each weekly challenge includes an unplugged activity to reinforce the idea that we are focusing on learning to become computational thinkers, not just users of technology. Classroom teachers or Tech Club leads submit the entries and a random participant’s name is drawn for a weekly class/club pizza party. Classes or tech clubs that participate in each of the five challenges are then eligible for the grand prize.
Communication is key to the success of the Beyond the Hour of CODE Challenge.The activities and outcomes are promoted across all school and board social media feeds. Twitter is used to overcome geographical barriers and to build a community of learners.
Wallwin encourages you to follow their coding learning at #sgdsbcodes. As well, she writes an article for each of the local papers celebrating the weekly and grand prize winners. She states that, “the communities and parent/guardian relationships are all a part of our learning journey. The sharing helps build momentum as we make our learning journey transparent with our school communities.”
This year, the final challenge culminates during the global coding event called the Hour of CODE. During this event, millions of students and educators from across the world will be learning to code and Superior-Greenstone District School students will be among those millions of learners.
In an effort to include community members in this initiative, local mayors and the Chiefs of Police have been invited to participate and learn with SGDSB students. Wallwin states that, “students will be empowered to teach our local leaders all about computational thinking while providing the additional benefit of strengthening community partnerships.”
Wallwin is striving to overcome the equity issues that surround technology and coding, and wants to support as many learners as possible in this endeavour, but most importantly, she encourages all learners to have fun!
Wallwin understands the hesitancy that many educators feel about coding, but her approach helps ease uncertainty. Her message is clear, she does not consider herself a “coder” but she does consider herself a learner and that’s mindset and opportunity that she wants for all.
Check out Wallwin's 2017 Beyond the Hour of CODE Challenge Calendar above, and you can find challenges and resources to supplement each challenge here.