When teachers and students first heard the phrase “Hour of Code,” most thought they were going to be learning computer programming. In a sense, they did, but that’s not the only purpose of the Hour.
“It’s about thinking analytically, problem-solving and logical sequencing, key elements that educators look for in every subject area, not just math and the sciences,” said John Reid, District 73 Instructional Technology Coach.
The problem is how to teach analytical thinking and coding without making it intimidating or boring. How do you do it? You set them up with games they already know how to play – robots and cup stacking.
Using Macbook Airs, iPads, and even a couple of real-life robots, Hawthorn Elementary North School kindergarten through fifth graders went through a series of instructions that made their robots and cup stacking do certain tasks. Teachers showed them how the behind the scenes code made it possible to complete those tasks.
What students learned about code in classrooms across Elementary North, students have been doing worldwide. In 2013, Code.org®, a non-profit organization, launched a challenge to expand participation in computer science by making it available in more schools. The organization aims to make it possible for every student to become exposed to computer science. They are also interested in expanding the computer sciences to be more interesting and accessible to women and minority groups. Over 75 million students across the globe have participated in the Hour of Code.
District 73 is informally teaching students to code, not so much as an end in itself but because the world in which students live has morphed: so many of the things society once did with elements such as fire and iron, or tools such as pencil and paper, are now wrought in code. District 73 is teaching coding to help its students craft their future and think more critically about their present.