Learning to Code in Primary School
We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to enter as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and fewer students are studying it now than a decade ago.That is why, during the month of December, Woodward Academy, including our youngest eagles at the Primary School, participated in a world-wide event called the Hour of Code.
At the Primary School we want to ensure that our students are on the forefront of creating technology--not just consuming it. The Hour of Code gives our young students an opportunity to apply their math, reasoning, and science skills through engaging games that teach them beginning coding and programming concepts.
In addition, we also let our younger students experiment, play, and code robots. We start with simple sequence algorithms using BeeBots and graduate into more complex algorithms using conditionals and loops with our Wonder Robots, Dash and Dot. We love to emphasize coding, programming, and robotics during this amazing event, but in reality it is a discipline we engage in throughout the course of the school year.
Our Primary School Library was recently transformed into the Collaboratory, and Mr. Heming, Mrs. Walker, and Mrs. Edmison strive to bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) concepts to our students. We all feel like these coding skills are similar to learning a foreign language, which for many students may become the universal language they and their peers need to succeed. As Mark Zuckerberg said, "In fifteen years we'll be teaching programming just like reading and writing...and wondering why we didn't do it sooner."
Overall, we love that coding and programming have become the "norm" in the Collaboratory because it is highly engaging work that fits seamlessly into our curriculum, connects us to a global community, and forces students to iterate to succeed. Our Hour of Code in December was a statement that Woodward Academy is teaching these foundational language and computing skills -- but we're not stopping there. Continuing to work with our younger students on the uses and functions of technology is an opportunity to change the future of education in Atlanta, and we want to lead the way!