Introducing myself and my students to the exciting world of coding
Author: Anna Miller
I recently wrote an article for my school’s website that focused on a brand new and a slightly intimidating project for me as an educator. As teachers, we are required to be extremely knowledgeable on the material we teach; however, there are some things out there that need to be taught to our students that we may not know much about. I decided to tackle something during a part of our school day called Exploratory. It is a time every few days where the students get to choose an activity not typically offered in classrooms to ‘explore’ something new. Below is the piece I wrote for my school about a really neat and free online tool I am using to introduce coding and computer programming to children.
The next exploratory term at the Middle School is going to be an exciting one and a huge learning experience for me as a teacher. Through my activity on social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, and other teaching blogs and teacher resource online communities, I have come to understand the demand for young people who know how to code and program. In our technologically-rich and rapidly changing society, jobs are evolving and this new area has become extremely prominent. I thought I would step outside my comfort zone and try something new with my students.
I do not have experience coding, but I think it is important to provide opportunities for our students that target passions and interests, as well as push them to try something new. I had my first class with my group of 10 students last week and it went extremely well. It is so wonderful to see students being able to continue a passion they are already entrenched in outside of school as well as a bunch of ‘newbies’ that have never tried it out before. We have a few students already writing in official coding languages such as Python and they are actually creating computer games from scratch! Then we have our new students working through a program called Tynker.
Tynker is an online program that uses games and puzzles to teach the basic concepts of coding. Once they move their way through this program, they can start to learn a programming language. Individually-paced work allows students to move at a comfortable pace and they can really see what they have accomplished. I have found it to be an extremely accessible way to reach into a complex and often difficult area. I will also be using Tynker to begin my own journey into the coding world.