10 Replies Latest reply on 17-Oct-2017 8:29 PM by kmaggirias

    Part Two: Think About It Discussion


      Watch the video above, Kids Learning to Code | How England is pushing to teach coding in school.What do you think about what they are doing in England?


      Now, thinking about our previous task, is coding a necessary skill to have? How would your students engage other students and staff about coding?

        • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

          A seriously powerful video, Kelly.  Coding makes me feel like a baby!  I feel like I'm learning a new language again!  I am actually wondering if the logical if/then nature of coding isn't more important than early math skills because it's such a great attitude to try/fail/etc.  I honestly think coding is closer to music or phys ed than math in the way we teach math currently, because it's so near to trying/failing/succeeding.  There really aren't that many places in our school system where the process is the process and mastery of learning can be measured so accurately by the learner all by themselves.  It either works or it doesn't.


          A few years ago 4 teachers including myself, decided to throw out the idea of a robotics team to our school.  We had 90 students show up to our first meeting.  No joke.  When we introduced the idea of Lego Mindstorms we had 45.  Then when it came to actually delegating who wanted to learn programming or the engineering and who could work together in small teams to compete against each other, we ended up with  less than 10.  So we entered a local robotics competition with our grade 12s and the homeschooled grade 6s just wiped the floor with us.  We had no continuum.  We had no starting point.  We had no mentors, and the students had the mindset that they were going to the moon on their own robots without knowing the basics.  It was tragic.  I don't know how we get there but I know we have to start earlier.  I'm working on the math department head to start incorporating computer science into the other grades.  He's just looking at me like I can't be serious, right now. 

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            • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

              Thanks for sharing that anecdote, Alanna. So much to respond to in that story. You will be glad to know that some of my Early Years colleagues are heeding your advice and starting early. There are wonderful examples on social media of 3, 4 & 5 year-olds jumping into this work as soon as they begin Kindergarten.

              • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

                Hi Alanna,


                I can relate to your Lego Mindstorm Robotics journey. I too started a club 2 years ago with my Grade 7 and 8's. We entered our first competition last year and we did not win, but we were challenged!!! I don't know if I would call it tragic, but our students as well as myself had a serious wake-up call. Halfway through the competition, the students turned to me and said, "Ms. Maggirias you know we are not going to win......" I looked at them and told them not to worry and just have fun! When we went back to school and the weeks that followed we talked about the challenges, what we learned and our next steps. They were ready to continue and persevere! When we had our math night later on in the year, they spoke about how coding is connected to mathematics and the challenges they faced. Most important of all they discussed and shared with parents what they needed to do next time. This was while they were demonstrating actual tasks that were assigned to them in the competition.


                It was scary for myself to admit that I was over my head, but we ventured through this journey together. Turning to your students and saying let's do this together, is powerful!!! I had to show my students how we were going to problem solve and work through this together. These same students, have now become mentors for other students in the school. This year we will have leaders, with my 7 and 8's to help promote and demonstrate coding to our younger students. They can share their successes and failures and demonstrate how to code. I agree that coding should be taught before many other skills and subjects. The perseverance and grit that develops can be very powerful.



              • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

                Wow - amazing video! The last line - "which may already be beyond the grasp of children in Canada" is a real heart-stopper. Alanna, your anecdote really says it all. I am torn between the premise of the book, which is that coding can be taught by anyone, and learned by anyone, and the belief that teachers need to devote some serious personal learning to the field of tech in order to go beyond the basics. Yes anyone can do the basics. But, by coincidence, I referred to this problem in introducing myself: my Grade 8 science class was headed down the same route that Alanna described because I did not know enough to guide the students further in their learning. I agree that we need to get our heads beyond the idea of the techie expert in each building who does all these wild tech things, but there is some work to be done on the part of everyone in order to do so. As well, leadership, as in other places like England and BC, is required to both push us and support us. Absolutely, coding is a necessary skill to have. I think we are in a good place in Ontario with a curriculum that adapts well to the integration of coding - although most don't see this. We do however need something other than what is in place now - extracurricular clubs, ad hoc projects and support, and ad hoc implementation in classrooms. When we look at the profound need and how it underpins our present and future economy, I think we will all look back and shake our heads at the inertia.

                  • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

                    Hi Anne,


                    Your response brought up many good points. I agree that we need to get beyond one tech expert, but wonder is this possible in our schools? Some of us in the group barely have one tech expert to go to...


                    Is it possible that technology is not being integrated by all teachers because they do not see the value of technology towards their own pedagogy? If we are asking teachers to integrate coding/technology what steps do we need to take to ensure student and teacher success?

                  • Re: Part Two: Think About It Discussion

                    Coding may not be a necessary skills to have in the future.  I use Scratch with my students, but I know that advance coding will look entirely different than the block coding that students use in my classroom.  There will also be a better program than Scratch that will come along at some point.  Teaching coding however does two things.  First, it provides students with the opportunity to explore coding and computer science much earlier than previous generations.  It also provides students with the chance to work on their learning skills and for us to assess and evaluate these learning skills.


                    One thing that I liked about the video was the beginning where we saw students learning coding without the use of computers.  We need to start our students early and the lack of technology in our schools may keep many teachers from introducing coding.  But, the video shows that coding can be taught without computers.  I downloaded an activity called "Hopscotch Coding" that uses cards for students to create a sequence of steps.  I also think back to the old Barrier Games we use to encourage Oral Communication.  One student would create a structure out of pattern blocks behind a barrier and the student would then have to use his or her words to tell another student how to build the same structure.


                    Obama's comment resonated with me - instead of buying a video game, make one.  We still use our computers the same way we did decades ago.  The activities are the same, but instead of paper and pencil, we use a computer program.  When we have discussions about using our computer lab, many teachers still see its importance as a place for word processing opportunities.  As the video shows, our students need to understand how to create computers and the software/websites found on computers.