Week 6 Blog

Some proponents of the coding movement in schools made a few key points that really resonated with me.  Just like with many other technological components, coding encourages students to work together and learn collaboration skills, as explained by Mitch Resnick in the TED Talk video.  In addition to collaboration, a news story by a Minnesota news station reported that while using coding in local schools, the teachers were able to see that their students were learning and developing logic and critical thinking.  In this video it was also clear that students were proud of their work and engaged and excited to share their learning.  Now many different subjects use games to interest students in learning, but by creating their own games, students are engaged and using their brains in much deeper ways than they would be by just playing a game to learn.

The Minnesota news station also reported that teaching young student to code now will encourage them to pursue more computer science and technology classes as they get older in high school and also hopefully college. Apparently less than 3% of college graduates earn a computer science degree, yet as technology becomes more prevalent computer scientists will be in high demand (Zamora, 2014).  Interesting student in computer science while they are you will encourage them to pursue these kinds of careers.

Learning to code is like learning a second language, and as it has been proven before, the earlier children learn a new language the easier they can pick it up and have more success assimilating it into their knowledge set (Harrell, 2015).  Some schools want coding to be more than just an elective, and want it to count as foreign language credits.  If the class help students meet graduation requirements it may be a higher incentive for them to take it, rather than just as general elective credits (Zamora, 2014).

Programs like Scratch, presented in Resnick’s Ted Talk video seem like really relevant and practical tools for teachers and students to use in school.  However the biggest challenge of mandating code use, even in a use friendly program like Scratch, is ensuring that teachers are appropriately trained and that schools have the resources necessary, such as enough functioning computers, internet and time in the schedule for coding.  Allowing that a school had good internet and enough good computers, the only way I can really imagine mandatory coding in school working is if students do it for an hour or so each week, just like an art or music class.  This would be a great way to expose student to coding without it taking over the school’s agenda.  Coding, and most technological platforms are not a part of the state standards, and therefore it is challenging to ask teachers to take too much time away from regular instruction to do something that is not a part of the standards, yet is mandatory…it doesn’t make sense.

Also, honestly, just on a personal note, I think making something ‘mandatory’ is a great way to take the fun and uniqueness out of it, and to discourage kids to explore it on their own.  I know when I was a student, just hear the word mandatory, even if it was in conjunction with something I liked, made me disinterested.  I think schools and experts should encourage, expose and provide opportunities for teachers and students to sue coding during the school day, but I do not think they should make it mandatory.

Harrell, M. (2015, March 15). Add Coding to Your Elementary Curriculum. . . Right Now. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/add-coding-elementary-curriculum-now-matt-harrell

Minnesota News Report:http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/12/08/elementary-curriculum-emphasizing-computer-coding/

Ted Talk Video: http://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code?language=en#t-134744

Zamora, W. (2014, April 1). Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary School. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://techblog.evan-moor.com/2014/04/01/coding-taught-elementary-school/

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9 thoughts on “Week 6 Blog

  1. I appreciate how you combat the cons/disagreements to teaching coding in school. One argument I came across against teaching coding was that there wasn’t enough time in the day for it. Teachers need to focus more on art and music than adding coding into curriculum. At my school, I find I don’t always have enough to teach the ‘extra’ subjects like science and social studies because we have so much art, music, and P.E. time. All of these are great add ons, next year we’ll be doing Spanish as well. From my perspective, I’m not sure adding a separate technology class or coding class would be the way to go, especially since you mention the mandatory aspect. My thought is that it could be taught after school as a club. This would provide the time for students who really wanted to participate and also offer time for teachers to learn too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tristan Leiter says:

    I agree, using the word mandatory takes the fun out of learning something new. We all like to explore different areas of interest in our own lives, but the minute you tell me I have too, it’s not as much fun anymore. I was watching tv yesterday and it was talking about how the minute you start making money in relation to a hobby, it’s no longer a hobby, but work. I see the same thing with mandatory classes, a kid may love something like computer coding, but the minute they make it mandatory in school, some of these kids may shy away from it because it’s no longer just fun. I can see the flip side to that too and kids being like sweet I get credit for something I love to do anyway, I guess it just depends on the kid in some cases.

    I think the opportunity for a foreign language credit would be awesome for schools to give to students for computer coding. Some kids take languages they will never use in life because they have to have so many credits to graduate. If they got credit for computer coding, it could be something they use everyday in their life in their future job. I think sometimes we just need to step back and see how these different things could effect kids and their futures, sometimes learning to speak a different language does nothing for them and truly is a waste of time (in my mind). Foreign language credit wouldn’t make it mandatory, it just would be an option for those kids who think they might want to do something related to computer sciences in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read how some schools planned to make coding a foreign language credit. I’m not sure if I agree with that idea. Coding is like a foreign language but I see more practical use in math and the sciences. Making it mandatory does have some serious implications. You may be correct when you say it could create less interest if students were forced to take it. I would like to see coding added to a variety of classes. With the common core standards that dictate what I teach in my math classes, coding could be introduced as a way to look deeper into a variety of topics. This may create interest due to the fact that it gets away from typical math assignments. For students who want to go deeper, optional elective credit in computer science and coding could be offered. As you mentioned, this will require significant training for teachers. Adding it to education programs in college is a great way to start.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoyed your blog. I think the only way coding could be added to high schools universally is if our schools added coding as a foreign language elective. There are too many other demands on a teacher’s day to add something new. I do certainly see how coding could be integrated into a unit in Math. Maybe that would be a great fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephen Oro says:

    I like your point that making something mandatory kills it. I’m a young developer and I do agree that things that are mandatory can suck the life out of a subject. However, I’d like to point out that just because something is mandatory doesn’t mean that it becomes dead to a student. In fact, a subject can become dead to a teacher as well. When a teacher doesn’t have a drive or passion for their subject of expertise, then the ability of even students who are interested in the subject to learn is greatly reduced. If however, the teacher has even a spark of life to their teaching, even uninterested students will want to learn the subject.

    History, a mandatory subject that I’ve always hated is more often than not interesting to read about. I could get lost reading the history text book itself, but I always had to pull myself away to actually do the boring “mandatory” assignment. In high school, long after I had given up history as a dead subject, I happened to have a history teacher who I will always remember as the greatest teacher I have ever had. He has a passion for the practical application of history – to understand how nations will interact in the future (he happens also to give advice to the US on foreign policy in some regard, and has given speeches at West Point and many military bases). His drive and passion made the world wars come alive, and I was always happy to attend his classes.

    That being said, I think the reason mandatory classes are boring is because those classes and subjects that are not mandatory are usually taught by teachers who either have a passion for what they do (which is why they are teaching it) or they recognize they have the freedom to teach it how they want to because they don’t have any standards to live up to. This is why teachers trying to bring coding into their students curriculum have students who enjoy things like the Hour of Code. It’s not the students’ fault they enjoyed it. The teachers were trying to show their students how to do something they themselves may not even know much about, but they thought it would be useful for the students. This earnest desire for the students to learn is why the students have so much fun. Of course programming does come with other benefits, like universally applicable problem solving skills, but I think it’s fine if coding is mandatory as long as you can inspire teachers to be passionate about teaching it.

    If you want to know more about why I think coding is a valuable subject even if it takes up some of a student’s valuable time, you can check Jason’s blog whenever he approves my comment (I’m a young developer asked to comment on you and your fellow teachers’ blogs).

    Liked by 4 people

    • Really great point about mandatory subjects often being boring because of a lack of passion behind them. I know that when I teach, if I don’t personally support the program, I have a hard time being passionate. Sometimes I even overly fake enthusiasm in attempt to get my students to buy in, but it doesn’t usually work.

      I relate to your experience with history. I have never like science in school, but one semester in college I had a great biology teacher, and surprisingly noticed myself looking forward to that class and enjoying learning about biology.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment on it. I appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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