Over the last few years I have been teaching my students a little about computer science using Code.org. We participate in the Hour of Code and then have a little fun with the lessons provided by the website.
Two years ago, I began a Coding Club as part of the math enrichment program I run after school each year. I was pleased to see that it was about half girls and half boys. It was interesting to watch which students were the ones who excelled and became the leaders of the club. Last year I included coding as part of my classroom activities. Students worked on coding at specified times during the school day and when they had a little free time. They were enjoying it and learning some cool skills along the way. Why was this not happening in more classrooms?
This year, another teacher at our school, Shannon Reitz, and I wanted to start another after school club to get more of our students coding. We both were hoping for a small group of students to have some fun with. What happened was beyond what we thought possible. Our desired 25 student limit for the year-long club turned into 36 students in the fall semester and another 30 for the spring. (Boy were many of them disappointed to hear they had to wait.) Shannon had minimal experience in coding before we decided to take this on and I had little more. Yet, we managed to gather quite a group of K-5 students who were willing to work with us 30 minutes once a week after school ended. (Quite a long day for the little ones!)
Watching the joy of the students and the way Shannon was willing to try something she wasn't sure about herself led me to think other teachers might be willing to try it with a little help in getting their own clubs or classrooms coding. I had heard of Code.org’s professional development trainings. It was time to take it to our district.
Yesterday, (on a Saturday no less) we held our training. It was great to see not only many teachers from my school, but also from other schools within the district and several from outside our city. 36 teachers were walked through the program and got time to play as students. Many didn’t want to stop “playing” with the games to learn more about the process and how to teach coding to the students. Some of those who attended were teachers who were against adding one more thing to their already crowded school day. Being shown coding can be part of all subjects (sequencing in LA, map skills/compass directions for geography, functions and patterns for math just to start!) gave the teachers the ability to see where they could fit it in and have fun at the same time.
As the training finished, I was excited to hear many of the teachers talk about how they could implement their learning on Monday morning and how easy all of this was. My only wish was that we could have gotten more teachers to attend. Hopefully as each of these teachers head back to their classrooms, their enthusiasm will extend to others and coding will become a bigger part of today’s classrooms.
What I learned:
Thanks to Dominic, for sharing how easy coding in the classroom can be!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching