I can’t believe we’ve already reached the end of this semester. It’s crazy to think about how much our personal lives have changed since the first class on January 7. In the first two months of this semester, I was still coaching sports, teaching in my physical classroom, going to the gym, shaking hands with people, and even my first trip to Disneyworld! The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly changed our lifestyles and routines. This pandemic has given me a lot of opportunity to reflect and think about many different things, especially in regards to educational technology. When this is all over, I’m curious to see what structures or practices will change in education. I’m hopeful that we can critically look at our experiences and practices post Covid-19 and make some positive changes to education. In regards to my major project about coding, I accomplished most of the major goals I set at the beginning of the semester.
As I wrote about in my first blog post, I’ve been very skeptical about coding over the past couple of years. For me, most of that skepticism has come from not seeing meaningful curriculum connections when coding. I’ve been privileged to attend multiple PD sessions about coding but still couldn’t fully jump into it. I can honestly say that my learning through this major project has given me the skills and confidence to spend some more time coding in my grade 5/6 classroom. I can see value and purpose and I look forward to seeing where I can take this in the middle years classroom. I’ve actually had multiple students ask if they can learn some coding during this supplemental learning period.
The Learning Journey
To start my major project, I spent hours reading and trying to make sense of the terms of service and privacy policies for Scratch and Micro:bit. As we had just heard Mary Beth Hertz speak, these ideas were still fresh on my mind. This was honestly the first time in my life I dedicated more than 10 seconds to a policy for a tool I was using for my personal use. As I wrote about in my blog post, these policies are full of legal jargon, confusing, and not really enjoyable to read. Even though the read wasn’t that great, it was truly a rewarding experience to go through this process. It really make me think and reflect on my practice of using digital tools. As we shifted into online supplementary learning, I was questioning these things and applying this learning to the process. Whether its for personal or educational purposes, I still ponder the question: What’s the value of our persona data?
Once I was finished with the policies, I shifted into the fun stuff of my project. I spent a lot of time coding on both Scratch and Microbit. During my coding experience on Scratch, I was able to get a solid understanding of how the coding software works. I gained a good understanding of most of the functions and addressed common challenges I foresee in the classroom. I think that Scratch is a tool that can easily be used in the middle years classroom.
Once I was finished exploring with Scratch, I shifted directly into Micro:bit. To be honest, I think this was the most enjoyable part of the entire coding experience. I had a great time coding with Micro:bit and I look forward to sharing this with my students. As I highlighted in my blog post, I spent a lot of time exploring and troubleshooting common challenges that I would come across when using in the classroom. I’m very hopeful that I can get my hands on a few Micro:bit’s and explore this with my students.
As I could have spend my entire major project simply just coding, I had to spend some time addressing my other goals for the project. I researched and explored ways to connect coding with Saskatchewan grade 6 curriculum. Through this process, I was able to find authentic connections to ELA, Arts Ed, Science, Math, and Social Studies. I know for a fact that there are so many other ways to connect coding to the curriculum. Through some collaboration on Twitter, I was introduced to some new ideas and resources I hadn’t come across in my research.
Lastly, I explored and did some research on the Saskatchewan Robotics and Automation curriculum that was introduced last year. I was able to get a strong understanding of the structure and key components of this curriculum. This learning gave me the confidence and re-assurance that coding should be taught and explored in our elementary schools.
In conclusion, I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to explore coding for my major project. I was able to develop and advance my technical skills when it comes to using coding software in the classroom. In addition, I found that “proof” I’ve been searching for over the last couple years. I can see the value of using this in my classroom. More importantly, I think this learning will benefit many students that I have a major influence on. I look forward to the day that I can introduce and explore coding with my students.