How and where our students learn has radically changed over the last ten months. Students are in a multitude of educational environments that have challenged the entire school community. As educators, we cannot predict what the future holds, but we understand the importance of developing core skills such as collaboration, effective communication, and problem solving in our students today.
Students exposed to coding and programming at an early age are well equipped to take on higher-level computer science courses in high school and have essential skills for future opportunities in the technology world. When Rob van Nood was hired as the educational technology specialist for Catlin Gabel School in Oregon, coding and computer science courses were only offered in grades 9-12 and not to students in the younger grades. The lack of coding curricula at the younger levels has left a significant teaching gap in 21st century skills such as problem solving, designing, and computation thinking.
Coding and robotics programs in classrooms reflect how integral technology is in our lives. Educators like Angie Kalthoff, Technology Integrationist in St. Cloud, MN, and Ann Bartel, Instructional Technology Specialist in Chilton, WI, teach K-8 students about technology through coding and computer science programs that incorporate the 4 Cs of learning: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. In a recent edWebinar, Kalthoff and Bartel explain that they want to coach students and not just tell them what button to push or the correct sequences to move a robot across a mat. By being challenged to take ownership of their learning through design thinking, students grow to understand that it is okay not to get the right answer the first time and that failing is part of the learning process.
Presented by Christine Danhoff, Technology Integration Specialist, Genoa Area Local Schools (OH); and Lauren Watkins, Marketing Director, Unruly Splats
Presented by Al Morali, Senior Learning Leader, Eduscape; and Machele Clark, Senior Learning Leader, Eduscape
Two common computer science misconceptions are that it’s just about programming and that only teachers with computer science degrees should teach it. Carrie Willis, Technology Director for Valley Preparatory School and Strategic Outreach Manager for Wonder Workshop, and Caitlin Arakawa, Kindergarten Teacher at Valley Preparatory School, dispel these misconceptions, during a recent edWebinar. They highlighted that soft skills critical to student success in future fields of study such as logic, problem-solving and creativity are integral components of computer science curriculums.
Presented by Marisa Labadini, Social & Content Manager, Unruly Studios; and Shannon Miller, Library Media Specialist and Innovation Director, Van Meter Community School (IA)
Presented by Daniel Budzinski, CEO & Founder, Purpose Prep
Teaching computer coding skills and concepts in the primary grades may sound like a challenge, but now there are hands-on activities and age-appropriate software that engage young students in this type of learning. And, starting the learning process in grades K-2 can build students’ confidence and reduce the challenges they face later when working on coding projects in the upper grades.
Large school districts in different parts of the United States have now developed systematic ways to increase diverse students’ access to advanced courses, and the districts are also providing other important aspects of an equitable education that prepares the students for 21st century careers.