#EveryoneCanCode PLC

Coding is today’s language of creativity.

~ Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College

This year a team of elementary teachers has come together to inquire about how we teach computational thinking through coding using our curriculum. Our cycle of inquiry is modelled after Kathy Murdoch’s Phases of Inquiry

Why Code?

Edutopia: Code Literacy: A 21st Century Requirement (excerpt)

When we acquired language, we didn’t just learn how to listen, but also how to speak. When we acquired text, we didn’t just learn how to read, but also how to write. Now that we have computers, we are learning to use them but not how to program them. When we are not code literate, we must accept the devices and software we use with whatever limitations and agendas their creators have built into them. How many times have you altered the content of a lesson or a presentation because you couldn’t figure out how to make the technology work the way you wanted? And have you ever considered that the software’s limitations may be less a function of the underlying technology than that of the [people] corporation that developed it? Would you even know where to begin distinguishing between the two?

~ Douglas Rushkoff, Digital Literacy Advocate – Codecademy

Our group came up with our own ideas about why teaching students to code is important, but more importantly, why it’s necessary:

  • Code is everywhere, and as contributing citizens of the world we need to understand how computers work
  • Engaging, empowering, creative, fun, innovative, inclusive, differentiated, inquiry-based, real-life  
  • Everyone has a entry point
  • Students who might be low achievers in traditional subjects often find success through coding
  • Multiple right answers to a solution
  • Looking for mistakes is rewarding
  • Builds procedural thinking, reinforces the writing process (edit, revise)
  • Builds spacial awareness
  • Coding can be integrated into to all subject areas in an interdisciplinary way
  • Computational Thinking = 21st Century Competencies (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, citizenship, character)
  • In Canada, 182,000 digital jobs will need to be filled in 2017, and only 12,760 students will graduate post secondary majoring in ICT
  • If we don’t prepare students for today’s job market, who will?

Our team has met a few times now and these are our reflections following our last meeting:

Terri Munn  My mind has been opened today to next steps that I can take to apply students learning with coding to more creative applications.  I will be exploring Scratch in more detail to see ways that students can use their knowledge of commands, sequences and functions to create short and informative videos.  I also enjoyed speaking with colleagues about the amazing ways that they are using green screens and the app “Green Screen by Do Ink” in their classrooms.

Michelle McDonald  I am excited to add a coding element to my NPfDL task.  The conversation today helped me think about how to integrate coding into the curricular work I am already doing. Just like with the integration of the iPads, I need to remember to do this one step at a time.  When I go back to school, I am going to make sure I share the coding work my students do with others to help my colleagues see the value in this kind of learning.

Heather Durnin  Today I confirmed how much I miss teaching with Scratch. There was a lot of excitement generated when we were sharing how to use Scratch in Language Arts. Code.Org lessons may be a feasible (but not as great) to use on iPads. I’m optimistic that curriculum resources are available from other provinces and that this very clever group will unearth the possibilities.

Alex Hutchison  I enjoyed hearing about the cool projects that people are doing, and that many of us are on the same page in terms of finding out there are so many programs/apps/ideas that it’s hard to know where to start and where to stop. I am excited to play with the new tech toys that are coming. I appreciate the opportunity to share thoughts, validate some practices I’m using, and be challenged to justify how I use other practices.

Chris Kevill  Much greater intro to Scratch. I look forward to working with my students to explore and create with this platform. It has a freedom to it that other platforms like Swift and Code.org seem to lack. I think the conversations that we are having about curriculum connections and computational thinking will definitely help get staff who have reservations about this work get on board with coding.

Melissa Campbell  Today I learned about a few new interesting ways to connect Scratch to the curriculum. I also learned a little about how to integrate Language using Google slides to create a really great narrative story. I also learned more about Code.org and how to set my class up to run through a series of lessons to help support what they are doing in Scratch. I can not wait to go back and try some of these things with my students. Also, I am looking forward to exploring where else I can make curriculum connections!

Leigh Cassell   Where to start… we had a really interesting discussion about the ways teachers in our PLC are integrating technology -specifically teaching computational thinking through coding- into a variety of subject areas in an interdisciplinary way. I’ve listed some of the ideas shared below! If any of those ideas peak your interest, I hope you will reach to that particular teacher to learn more!

Nicole Kaufman -Students are using a coding program called Scratch to write narratives. Check out Ms. K’s Scratch narrative here!

Michelle McDonald -Students are building and coding Lego EV3s to learn about Structures in science. She is also experimenting with Vex Robotics. Ask her how!

Alex Hutchinson -Alex’s students are coding their own music compositions.

Melissa Campbell -Students are learning how to use Scratch – a coding program to create stories.

Heather Durnin -Heather’s kids are learning computational thinking skills through coding, and 3D printing their ideas to bring them to life.

Terri Munn -Students in Terri’s class have been experimenting by coding Spheros.

Chris Kevill -Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) in Chris Kevill’s class. Students are using Google Slides to collaborate and create their first Choose Your Own Adventure stories. His students are also experimenting with Scratch and Code.org.

Link to Template Slides for CYOA (a work in progress)

Image created by Chris Kevill

Coding gives you the basis to understand the world of today and control the world of tomorrow. There are few more rewarding experiences one can have.

I~ Jeff Skoll, Founder, Participant Media

If you’d like to learn more about our inquiry, we are happy to share our learning with you! Are you experimenting with coding in your classroom program? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment below…

2 thoughts on “#EveryoneCanCode PLC”

  1. I’m interested in seeing how coding aligns with current curriculum expectations. I teach grade 2 and ever since the week of code my class has been begging for more. I’ve kept it as a ‘choice’ activity when essentials are complete, but did not schedule class time for it until today when we began to code LEGO robotics (Grade 2 Movement – Simple Machines). How do you finding time to let students fully explore code while teaching other subjects/expectations?


  2. Hi Becky,

    Great questions…
    Our group is currently exploring and identifying the curriculum connections to make this more explicit for ourselves, our students, and other teachers in AMDSB who want to integrate coding into their classroom programs.
    Coding should be integrated in a cross-curricular way to teach a variety of expectations, with a focus on developing computational thinking skills for learners. Computational thinking skills include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity – which align with our Strategic Plan to develop outcomes for students. If we think of coding as a way to teach skills embedded within the curriculum, what we are really asking students to do is identify a problem and develop a solution. My post The ‘C’ Word elaborates on this idea: http://edublog.amdsb.ca/tlc/2016/12/19/the-c-word/
    Thank you for your comment. Looking forward to continuing the conversation 🙂


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