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Ridgeview News > Posts > Coding in the Classroom (Guest Blogger: Cari Wilson)
April 03
Coding in the Classroom (Guest Blogger:  Cari Wilson)

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If you had walked into Mrs. Sandor’s Grade 1 classroom earlier this year, you might have seen students walking around in pairs, peering intently at pieces of paper on which they had written seemingly unintelligible lists of letters. What were they doing? What was on the paper? And why were they having so much fun?

Mrs. Sandor’s students were participating in partner-coding, a fun activity that introduces students to the concepts of computer programming or coding. They were using the basic commands of F, B, R and L (forward, backward, right and left) to program each other to do things like move from a desk to the door.


Coding is in the news a lot lately - our premier even recently commented that it was an important skill that would be added to the BC Curriculum. Some studies indicate that within the next 10 years as many as 1 million jobs will need to be filled by people who can code. West Vancouver is ahead of the curve and in many classrooms, like Mrs. Sandor’s, we have already started introducing basic coding.


For some students, their introduction to coding begins with device-free activities like Mrs. Sandor’s class was doing. For many others, it begins with their teacher signing them up to participate in the yearly Hour of Code challenges. The Hour of Code was created specifically to expose students to the coding and give them a chance to try it out. The teachers or adults involved don’t need to know anything about coding and there are enough activities on the site to keep even the most avid young coder occupied. With games like Star Wars, Minecraft and Frozen all using a simplified language called Blockly, kids are quickly drawn in and encouraged to solve problems using code. Some lucky students in a few schools have even started to have the experience of programming simple robots.


Regardless of how a child begins to experience coding, the benefits are many. Coding encourages creative and critical thinking. Students who are able to problem solve and overcome failure are rewarded with success. Through play and experimentation students are exposed to abstract concepts like computational and algorithmic thinking in a way that makes sense to them. Students often work together when coding, developing not just coding skills but skills in collaboration and negotiation, too.


If you have a child who is interested in learning more about coding, there are lots of resources available. Start by looking through the Hour of Code website. Many of the games on there are apps that you can download or they come from sites that you can access. There are sites like the Khan Academy and CodeAcademy that offer online course for students and there are increasing numbers of summer camps that offer coding. For those students who want to go take their coding and apply it to robotics, there are lots of great educational robots on the market now. West Vancouver School District is offering a high school academy called Mechatronics Robotics for students entering Grades 9 to 12 and two coding and robotics related courses for students entering Grade 6 and 7 through the Ignite Your Passion program.

Of course, not all students will become coders any more than they will all become Olympic athletes or Nobel prize winners. As parents and educators, it is our job to introduce children to many activities and life skills in order to prepare them for their future and help them discover their passions. In the future we are heading towards, a basic knowledge and understanding of coding will be a life skill we are glad we gave them.​ 

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