#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…

February #AMDSBKidsChat: Patience

Join us as we discuss #Patience during our next #AMDSBkidschat on February 27th from 10AM-11AM. It’s is a great place for students to connect with their peers, creatively share ideas, improve literacy skills by communicating and collaborating with others, and develop citizenship and character. Everything you need to get started can be found here! Watch the video, answer the questions, and join us to share your ideas to learn with other K-12 students throughout #AMDSBLearns!

“Patience is not just about waiting for something…

it’s about how you wait, and your attitude while waiting.”     ~ Joyce Meyer

This month, after you watch the video we encourage you to try this experiment with your class! Don’t forget to take pictures and share them during our chat!

The Marshmallow Experiment


  1. What does it mean to have patience?
  2. How did the kids in the video show patience? OR How did you show patience during this experiment in your own classroom?
  3. Why is it hard to be patient sometimes?
  4. Describe a time when you have had to be patient at home or at school.
  5. Why is it important to be patient?
  6. How could you be better at being patient?

LL Cool J …Be Patient (additional video)

Improving Communication and Collaboration in Math Using Blogs and Digital Tools: TLLP Resource & Final Reflections

This post marks our team’s final TLLP sharing. For me, it marks the end of a series to TLLPs that helped create the community we all belong to today. But more importantly, the TLLP helped make me the educator I am today.

Every day we take ideas and turn them into realities for our students, and for ourselves. We inspire. We take risks. We fail -often. And I learned that when we share our failures with others we open ourselves up to building trusting relationships that make us better, together. The teachers I work with every year make me a better teacher. And I hope, in turn, I help others focus on their strengths, be their best, and provide support to move forward. Without your ideas, your inspirations, the risks you take, the failures you endure, and the lessons you champion -and most importantly share- without you, there would be no AMDSB EdTech Learning Community. So to sum up my learning over the last 3 years would be to say that the TLLP has not only taught me how to be a better teacher, but the TLLP has made me a better person.

Moving forward I’d like to encourage you to seek out relationships in this community. If every teacher connected with even just one other teacher in our board, the power of those conversations would inspire new ideas, new innovations, and even more powerful learning opportunities for kids.

In a culminating task our TLLP Team created a slide deck showcasing examples of how teachers are using their blogs to share learning activities, increase “Math Talk” and work towards improving communication and collaboration in math. And as our practices continue to evolve -as we learn more and do better- our focus remains the same: we always do what we believe is best for kids.

TLLP Final Teacher Reflections

Charlene Stein

It was helpful today to put the finishing touches on our collaborative project “Improving Communication and Collaboration in Math using Digital Tools”.  This will be a valuable resource moving forward as it provides a collection of resources from each group member.  We also made a wish list of resources to support our professional development in math.  I am interested in the Leaps and Bounds resource by Nelson and we talked to a representative from the company and asked specific questions.

We looked at Chapter 3 from A Rich Seam by Fullan- “The New Pedagogies – Deep Learning Tasks”, discussed and recorded our learning in Padlet.  We heard more about the Deep Learning Tasks that some schools were a part of last year.  We talked about different subjects that lend themselves naturally to deep learning tasks in various grade levels.

Next Steps:

I would like to purchase the Leaps and Bounds resource and continue to fine-tune math assessment and intervention in my grade 1-2 class.

I am motivated to continue to provide opportunities for Deep Learning tasks – this seems to happen most naturally in science, during our morning walks.  I would like to investigate this more fully in other subject areas, i.e. math.

Nicole King

What is my new learning today?

There are many new resources that I would like to acquire but they are costly. Creating a wish list for purchase and a wish list to order through the OCT will be a lot new reading coming up and professional learning.

There are so many great ideas and tweeks to pedagogy that I want to implement into my practice to make math more meaningful to students. I can sometimes feel overwhelmed or inadequate as an educator as we sit here and come up with all these things that we should be doing. I promise that I am trying but the list gets larger of what we should be doing and almost unmanageable or unrealistic. We all need an overhaul to keep up with the change in needs, but sometimes it is a lot at once and it can be only one subject area.

I have found this TLLP very worthwhile. Sometimes it does just takes sitting and collaborating with other educators in order to find a simple ‘teaching hack’ that makes things more manageable. It can be simply the time that was granted to do some of the research and inquires for ourselves. Time is also running low so this has been fantastic to explore, examine, ask questions and struggle through the productive discourse to problem solve some of the things we do as we teach and blog. The connections made in this TLLP have been fantastic and the professional connections are made in order to have ‘help’ when we struggle through and knowing there is someone else in the same position has been very comforting, especially for those of us that are very passionate about math, blogging, and high yield teaching strategies.

What are my next steps and commitments?

Here are some next steps that I want to work through:

~ Following other teacher’s blogs to gain ideas for collaboration and communication in math

~ Connecting with blog buddies through google hangouts

~ Committing to more regular 3 part math lessons and cycling back to math concepts so it becomes more embedded in student’s schema

~ Keeping a running list of ideas to add into my program as I can – meaning that to do one well rather than a whole bunch at once and not done well

Allison Plumsteel

As we wrapped up our final TLLP meeting, we were able to add more ideas into our slide deck that we began to create about Math ideas for improving communication and collaboration. We were also able to discuss beneficial Math specific resources that we might be able to order for our professional development. During this meeting, we were able to have a meaningful conversation based on Michael Fallan’s How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning (NPfDL). We completed our survey and we reflected on our learning together this past year and how we have changed/improved our own practises for the better. This has been a meaningful TLLP group!

Jenna Lange

My new learnings from today were recognizing the importance of creating and implementing deep learning tasks with students as this allows them to continue to develop ownership of their learning in a meaningful way. In addition, these meetings have continue to demonstrate the importance of using digital tools within the classroom for student engagement and understanding. My next steps are that, I need to continue to develop assessment tools that are reflective of concepts that students have learned that are not accessible via internet inquiry. I am looking forward to heading back to my classroom and taking all the ideas and concepts learned over this past year!

Hilary Reinecker

I am sorry to say that this is the last of our meeting. Today our discussions about deep learning tasks have inspired me to create more authentic tasks in my classroom, especially concerning my inquiry questions in language. I have to put a lot of thought into how to do that more effectively in math. I am excited to review the slide show of math blog ideas that we created individually in the group today to get ideas. This process has been so educational and engaging and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.


We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts, questions, ideas, and reflections below and join the conversation!