Anna Blake Makes Coding Accessible to Students
“Tynker gives you the ability to differentiate for each kid’s needs.”
|Anna V. Blake Website|
|Elizabeth Forward School District|
This week, we’re excited to feature Anna Blake, a Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator who is also presenting with Tynker at ISTE 2019. Anna is an Instructional Technology Specialist who teaches elementary students in the Elizabeth Forward School District in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. Using tools like Tynker, Anna’s on a mission to make coding accessible to all students, including those with special needs. Read on to learn more about Anna!
Growing up, Anna faced academic struggles which now help to fuel her desire to truly empower students: “I always think of being that teacher that helps students find something that they’re good at.” She’s able to relate to students who have their own struggles with school, and she draws on a variety of tools to help them achieve their goals. When she joined the team at Elizabeth Forward, Anna and her colleagues discussed how they could make coding accessible to every child: “Our whole idea was, ‘How do we include students with autism? How do we include students with special needs?’”
That’s where Tynker comes in. Anna feels that Tynker is a great fit for students: “Tynker enables all kids to feel successful through the guided tutorials.” Details like visual appeal and structural support are vital when it comes to choosing a coding platform for students across a spectrum of abilities, as Anna explains: “Tynker is able to really help the teacher in breaking down those steps for children with special needs. With the Tynker curriculum, each child feels secure. They feel that they have enough support to get themselves through programming…The blocks are really easy and colored nicely so that kids understand each level or lesson.”
‘Differentiation’ is a key concept in teaching students in any subject. Tynker offers opportunities for students to learn subjects in a variety of modalities, as Anna explains: “We did a project in Sphero with Tynker using geometry. They were learning about geometry in their own classroom. It’s for those kids who maybe didn’t do so well in geometry, but they’re really good in computational thinking.” Coding is a great tool to help students understand traditional subjects, but Anna knows that computer science itself also requires differentiation: “That’s the reality, that we’re not just going to differentiate reading class. We’re going to differentiate computer science class as well. Tynker gives that ability.”
Anna uses Tynker’s Programming 101 and 102 with her students, coding courses that foster skills like communication and collaboration. She describes what happened when students worked on a difficult puzzle in Programming 101: “There’s one kid who’s got it. Instead of going on to programming 102, he goes around and helps each and every child get through that puzzle. And it’s just this confidence that that child feels, and it’s just such a wonderful moment to see. To see how happy that kid is, and how much he wants to share that joy with others.”
We’re excited to have Anna Blake as part of our community of educators! Her understanding of how to make coding accessible to students will benefit students for years to come.
Say hello to Anna at ISTE 2019, Booth #516, on June 25th at 1:30 pm. She’ll share more about physical computing in the classroom as she presents ‘Drones, Spheros, and Block-Based Fun with Tynker’!
Read our previous post about Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator Paige Besthoff, who shares the ‘how’ of teaching students to code early!