Last year, for no other reason than striving to expose my students to as many types of learning opportunities as possible, I jumped on the Hour of Code bandwagon, inspired by this video:
Although I had little idea what I was getting myself into, #TBCDSB Technology Resource Teacher, Jerry Izydorczak and I endeavoured to introduce my grade 6 students to coding. At the very moment they started, our digital natives became the lead learners and “teachers”. Mr. I and I quickly became the students who were struggling to keep up and understand the language of coding that my students so quickly adopted!
I truly started to feel what many of my students might experience on a daily basis; frustration, incompetence and the feeling of being left behind. My students couldn’t quite understand why I wasn’t “getting it” and had a difficult time explaining a language that they seemed to so easily understand. So, I took a deep breathe, reminded myself that I didn’t always need to be the “teacher” and let go. I took the back seat in this learning journey, realized I didn’t have to “get it”, that the language of code would come in time if I was willing to take risks, ask questions, fail, ask questions, learn, ask questions and try again.
I also recognized that some of my students who tended to struggle with “traditional” school assignments excelled in coding. There was a spark in their eyes that I had never seen before. A role reversal started to transpire. The one’s who were sometimes quick to give up, rush through their work or not put forth the effort they were capable of began to flourish. Some of my most reserved students started to take leadership roles within the classroom during “coding time”, they became the sought after “go to people” to assist their peers to get through a challenging stage. Coding was the boost that some of my students needed to spark their learning and give them a shot of confidence and passion for learning. It gave some of my other students, some of the ones that things always seemed to come easily, the challenge they needed to allow them to fail, persevere and succeed.
When trying to articulate what my students thought of coding, I decided to reach out to one of my coding experts, Michael to ask him to share his thoughts. Since all of my students have moved on to senior elementary school, I contacted his principal, @ via email and asked her if she’d ask him to answer some questions for me. Apparently he was “flattered”. This is what he had to say:
As the Hour of Code movement begins again this December, I encourage you to jump in and expose your students to a different learning opportunity. However, once the “hour” is done, your students will want and need more! Are you ready and willing to give it to them? Don’t stop there, continue to look outside the covers of the textbooks and the walls of your classrooms, the opportunities for learning are endless!