Last week was an exciting one as Sarah Visocchi’s fourth-grade class at Pine Glen began integrating coding lessons into their math classes. The objective of using coding lessons is to help students hone their computational thinking and problem solving skills, generalizing them into their work in all academic disciplines and areas of their life where logical thinking and problem solving occurs.
We are beginning with Code.org’s Code Studio Course 2, a beginner course for students who are readers. (Course 1 is a beginner course for students who don’t yet read.) Each new concept is presented in “Unplugged” mode where students either act out or engage in paper-based activities that allow them to understand the concept and vocabulary in real-world situations before applying them to coding and computers. In our first two Unplugged lessons, students are beginning to understand what “programming” is really about and relating the concept of algorithms to everyday activities.
In Lesson 1, students practiced using codes to communicate with peers. First they wrote “code” to tell others how to create designs. Students then swapped papers and “ran” their classmates’ code to find the design. If the completed design didn’t match the original, students analyzed the code to determine what went wrong. Lesson 2 focuses on how we use algorithms in our daily lives as we create instructions for folding a paper airplane. With a little luck, we’ll have good weather for flying our paper airplanes when we’re done!
The same factors that make Mrs. Visocchi’s class a vibrant and diverse learning community present challenges in implementing a provided curriculum, even one as good as Code.org’s. As a result, it provides opportunities to be creative in modifying the curriculum to reach as wide a variety of learners as possible. Our hope is to not only modify the curriculum but to share those modifications with the wider BPS community in order to support coding across the district.
Touch base with me or with your building-based ITS to see how incorporating coding into your lesson time can build skills across the curriculum.