Coding Curriculums: Part 2

October 22, 2015 by wendy

CoderDojo Linz
CoderDojo Linz by Rainer Stropek is licensed under CC by 2.0

In the first part of this series, we began to explore the National Curriculum in England, which outlines students’ learning objectives in computing across four key stages from ages 5 to 16. This week, we take a closer look at the guide for primary teachers, and we focus on how teachers working with students between ages 5 and 7 can introduce coding in their classrooms.

Building the foundation

Key stage 1 builds the foundation for students. It is important for them to realize that we interact with computers all the time, not only at school, but also at home with our appliances, in our car, and outside when we cross the street. They should be aware that computers store information digitally as files, and they should be able to save, organize, manipulate, and retrieve files effectively.

Introducing coding

In terms of coding, students first need to understand that computers need precise and unambiguous instructions. They should have the opportunity to design their own algorithms or programs, sequences of instructions that accomplish a task. In most cases, their first attempts will have mistakes or bugs. Debugging, or fixing these mistakes in their programs, can be a chance for students to collaborate. In addition to creating programs, students should also predict the behaviour of existing programs to develop their logical reasoning.

Here are some tools that students can use to create their first programs:

  • Bee-Bot
  • Dash and Dot
  • KIBO
  • Kodable
  • ScratchJr
  • Sphero

Being safe

Finally, students will most likely be using the Internet. It is important to review with them how to use technology safely and respectfully, why they should keep personal information private, and where they can go for help and support.

Planning lessons

The guide suggests four different approaches for planning lessons.

  • Structure lessons around themes, such as computer science, information technology, and digital literacy.
  • Use a project-based approach that integrates topics from other subjects.
  • Adapt from existing lesson plans.
  • Use a student-centred approach in which students choose from a set of projects or design their own projects based on an overall topic.

Beyond key stage 1

In part 3 of this series, we’ll continue to explore the National Curriculum in England and their guide for primary teachers, and we’ll focus on the main elements of key stage 2.

Tips for teaching technology to Kindergarten students

May 31, 2015 by wendy

Kindergarten Student
Kindergarten scout by Mats Eriksson is licensed under CC by 2.0

Yesterday, I tuned in to a webinar called “How to introduce technology to the kindergarten classroom” hosted by KinderLab Robotics. The webinar outlined 4 strategies for teaching technology, as well as science, engineering, and mathematics, or in other words, STEM, to young children.

1. Integrate STEM into existing curricula

When STEM is integrated into existing subjects and not taught as a separate topic, students develop different perspectives and new understandings on those subjects. They also see how STEM can be useful in other areas.

2. Support open-ended and imaginative play

Children as young as 4 years old can begin to understand logic and programming concepts, such as sequencing, and cause and effect. However, they learn best when they’re moving, experimenting, and playing. So it’s important to provide an environment that allows for movement and supports their imagination.

3. Create opportunities for group work

Social interaction is key to a young child’s learning process. Collaboration also gives each child the opportunity to contribute in his or her own way, and it shows that by working together, they can build something completely different.

4. Make it fun

Making STEM education fun encourages students to continue exploring and experimenting, and it’s important for teachers to have fun too!

About KinderLab Robotics

KinderLab Robotics specializes in creating new technologies for young children. KIBO, their robotics kit, is designed for children aged 4 to 7, and it allows them to build, program, and decorate a robot without using a tablet or computer. Mitch Rosenberg, CEO at KinderLab Robotics, and Marina Umaschi Bers, chief scientist at KinderLab Robotics and professor at Tufts University, created KIBO based on over a decade of research on learning technologies and youth development.