Coding for the Non-Tech Teacher
In my 15+ years of working with educators, I’ve encountered numerous individuals whose commitment to innovative use of technology with their students has served as an inspiration to me.
This past year, Learning.com launched a new coding curriculum, EasyCode, to support the growing number of schools and districts looking to inject coding instruction into grades K-8. During this time, my team has worked closely with educators to successfully implement coding instruction into these lower grades. As with any new language, the sooner students are exposed to coding, the easier it will be to develop fluency.
Recognizing the importance of teaching digital literacy skills and coding at a young age, teachers now must find ways to incorporate these critical skills into core curriculum. The need that many teachers have is for a flexible curriculum that is intuitive and easy to implement, regardless of their technical skill level.
I’d like to highlight two educators from this past year whose efforts and impacts I found particularly inspiring. They’re both passionate educators who had no prior experience teaching coding. Both approached the subject as something to learn alongside their students in the collaborative environment they established, where problem-solving and failing were an accepted (and important) part of the learning process.
Success at Sharyland ISD
Alfonso Mendoza teaches at Shimotsu Elementary School in the Sharyland Independent School District. Mendoza is a 5th grade science and social studies teacher who was approached by his administration with an opportunity to teach coding. At first Mendoza was unsure given his lack of programming experience, but eventually agreed to take on the curriculum and learn alongside his students. This past school year Mendoza used EasyCode Foundations in his classroom where he got his students excited about coding by using the computational thinking lessons and coding challenges.
“I’m always looking for tools that help students build higher order thinking skills that are transferable across the curriculum. Learning.com’s coding lessons give my students the ability to practice many of these skills, including critical thinking, communication, logic, problem solving, persistence and collaboration…” said Mendoza.
A year later, Mendoza and his students are moving through the coding lessons with a high degree of confidence and he no longer feels apprehensive about his lack of prior experience teaching programming skills.
Coding in Calallen
Mike Brotherton is a health and technology applications teacher at Calallen Middle School in the Calallen Independent School District. Brotherton worked through EasyCode Foundations with his students over the course of a semester. During that time students progressed through the coding challenges and even built their own games. Brotherton shared that initially one of his female students expressed apprehension about her ability to learn to code. After some encouragement from Brotherton, and eventual success within EasyCode, she began to thrive and take interest in coding. By the end of the semester, she went on to not only complete the entire EasyCode curriculum, but also produced her own recognition-winning game.
Being an educator is a rewarding experience. Teachers are instrumental in making learning exciting, engaging and successful for their students. Challenges can stem from many things, like how to get through to students, or how to teach curriculum that may be both unfamiliar and intimidating. Despite these challenges, the reward is so much greater. The reward comes when you see students graduate, succeed, achieve and excel. Having the right tools and resources to help teachers succeed can make all the difference.
If you’d like to find out how we can help you to bring coding to your students, we would love to hear from you.