#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…

Mathies Math Apps and Resources for Ontario Ts and Ss

Mathies resources are designed for Ontario K-12 students, teachers, and parents. The Mathies site hosts a large collection of educational Games, Learning Tools, and Activities organized by strand, as well as Additional Supports like online practice modules and FREE Homework Help and tutoring for Ontario students in grades 7-10.

I first learned about Mathies when I was working with Jackie Harrison at Bedford. I am always curious to see what apps teachers have loaded on their student devices and more importantly, how they are using them. Jackie learned about Mathies at an OAME (Ontario Association for Mathematics Education) sponsored PD session earlier this year. The session was facilitated by ADE Kristen Wideen @MrsWideen about how to Innovate with iPad…

Mathies Math Apps feature Canadian content for our Canadian kids and include a variety of features to provide your learners with virtual manipulatives to create visual representations and work with standard algorithms, as well as options to view your work history, and record thinking using built-in annotation tools. Screenshot your work to share on with others via your student and class blogs, and/or on your class Twitter feed. Here is a small sample of some of the apps they have available:


To learn more about the Mathies apps and other Mathies resources, you can visit their website. To learn more about how Mathies apps are being integrated into Jackie’s mathematics program, connect with @madameharrison on Twitter.

Are you using Mathies Math Apps and/or Resources with your kids? Leave a comment below and share your ideas!


iTunes U & iBooks Content Links for Teachers and Students

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program created a list of iTunes U / iBooks URLs which include links to popular Apple websites, iTunes U content and more. I highly recommend checking out the Apple Distinguished Educator Courses (these are lessons in all subject areas organized into courses for you and your students), Evaluating Apps for the Classroom, Everyone Can Code, and Lesson Ideas (integrate apps that augment, modify and redefine learning into curriculum-based lessons in all subject areas for all ages).

Accessibility: appstore.com/accessibility

Apple Distinguished Educator Books: itunes.com/ADEBooks

Apple Distinguished Educators Courses: itunes.com/ADECourses

Apple Education: apple.com/education

Apple Teacher: apple.com/education/teachers

Books for Educators: itunes.com/BooksForEducators

Courses and Collections by Language: itunes.com/bylanguage

Curriculum Standards: itunes.com/curriculum

Digital Literacy & Citizenship: itunes.com/digitalcitizenship

Education Collections: AppStore.com/EducationCollections

Education Solutions (Curriculum & Assessment): AppStore.com/EducationSolutions

Evaluating Apps for the Classroom: itunes.com/evaluatingappsfortheclassroom

Everyone Can Code: itunes.com/ecc

For Educators: itunes.com/foreducators

For School Leaders: itunes.com/forschoolleaders

Free Books by Educators: itunes.com/FreeBooksByEducators

Learning at Every Level: itunes.com/learningateverylevel

Lesson Ideas: itunes.com/LessonIdeas

Special Education: itunes.com/SpecialEd

Teachers’ Favourites: appstore.com/TeachersFavorites

Textbooks: itunes.com/textbooks

Tools for Formative Assessment: iTunes.com/FormativeAssessment

Tools for Teachers: appstore.com/ToolsForTeachers

Please share your favourites by leaving a comment below! Sharing your ideas helps others…