On Monday, December 10th, Tessa International School proudly celebrated The Hour of Code. Each teacher was engaged with her students on an activity related to learning the steps for coding.
What is coding? It is essentially ‘how machines think.’ One way to think about it is it is a set of instructions to follow—much like following a recipe or even conducting a science experiment. Although coding is often thought of as a ‘21st century skill,’ it is essentially the same as teaching procedural thinking (which will eventually become procedural writing), which has been taught in schools for quite a long time.
There is a great debate in academia whether today’s students will use coding as adults (it is not clear, for instance, whether humans will be doing the coding in the future or whether machines will be doing the job), but educators generally do agree that learning the fundamentals of coding develops healthy ‘habits of mind.’ These include teaching students how to:
- Break down a problem into its component parts
- Design systems
- Run small experiments to see which approaches fail and succeed1.
Each teacher at Tessa had a different approach toward teaching coding. And here’s a run-down of what the teachers did:
In Ms. Ana’s class, the students learned directional words in Spanish and how the symbols ‘up,’ ‘down,’ ‘left,’ and ‘right,’ translate to moving on a grid. Students gave directions to Ms. Ana for animals to find food and avoid obstacles.
In Ms. Sandrine’s class, the students did pre-coding activities related to Sudoku and putting a colored puzzle together according to instructions.
In Ms. Maritza’s class the students learned ‘up,’ ‘down,’ ‘left,’ and ‘right’ in Spanish and, connecting the learning to the story, ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ students gave instructions for animals to be able to see each other on a grid.
In Ms. Tatiana’s class, the students gave instructions to a Code & Go robot and also played a board game that specifically teaches coding skills.
All in all, it was a fantastic day for learning. The students had a fabulous time learning how robots and machines ‘think.’
- “The Coding Revolution” by Annie Murphy Paul in Scientific American, August 2016 (Vol. 315, #2, p. 42-49)