Coding: The Next Generation

“We live in a world that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Today‚Äôs children will face a continual stream of new issues and unexpected challenges in the future. Many things that they learn today will be obsolete tomorrow. To thrive, they must learn to design innovative solutions to the unexpected problems that will undoubtedly arise in their lives. Their success and satisfaction will be based on their ability to think and act creatively. Knowledge alone is not enough: they must learn how to use their knowledge creatively.” Mitch Resnick

When thinking about setting up our students up for success in the future, what kind of skills do you feel they need? A few ideas come to mind: How to problem solve, how to work cooperatively together, how to persevere, and how to think outside of the box. Keeping these ideals in mind, has caused me to reflect upon my own teaching in the last year. Do I provide opportunities for these skills to develop to my classroom?

Through my master’s course, I have been exposed to a lot of the current research in the learning sciences, and am continuing to find ways to challenge my own thinking. If the research says students need opportunities to play and discover, how can I ensure I provide these in my class?

Today, my students participated in the Hour of Code, a global movement designed to introduce students to computer programming and making it possible for all students to learn the basics of coding. I initially showed my students a couple tutorials and then just let them play. What happened next was something I dream of as a teacher. My students were 100% engaged, they collaborated and helped one another out, they shared their skills and taught each other, they problem solved, they persevered, and they were creative! However, the most powerful piece of this lesson was when it ended and the responses I heard:
“This was the best class ever!”
“Oh my gosh, that was so much fun!”
“Ms. Petley, can we please do this again?”

Do you need to know how to code in order for your students to learn? Model learning together. Model problem solving. Let them experiment and teach you. Let them be creative. Let them code!

Helping each other out during the #HourOfCode

Helping each other out during the #HourOfCode

We participated in the #HourOfCode

We participated in the #HourOfCode

Resnick, M. (2014). Give p’s a chance: Projects, peers, passion, play. Constructionism and Creativity conference, opening keynote. Vienna.

What if we all Learned the Kindergarten Way?

In preparation for starting my masters next week, I have an extensive list of “pre-readings” to complete by Monday. I starting reading a couple of them today, and was thoroughly intrigued by one article in particular, All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten by Mitchel Resnick. It’s a brilliant article, and if you haven’t read it before, I highly recommend that you do, but regardless I thought I’d summarize it here.

Resnick argues that we need to make the rest of our schools just like the experience in kindergarten, whereby students move fluidly through the process of imagination, creation, play, sharing, and reflecting, and repeating several times over. This allows students to become creative thinkers who can develop essential skills to learn more advanced and complex concepts.

He continues on to outline these five many ideas of kindergarten and how they can work effectively in schools:
1) Imagine – In kindergarten, children are surrounding by materials that allow their imagination to take hold; blocks, colour utensils, toys. They do not limit their thinking, but allow it to be endless and personal. Today, using educational technologies allows for this as well, providing it not does limit creativity, like tutoring software could. Renick states, “Our goal is to provide tools that can be used in multiple ways, leaving more room for children’s imagination.” We need to support creativity and diversity in order to allow children to use their imagination.

2) Create – In order for students to be creative thinkers, we need to give them chances and time to be creative. Providing them with electronics, toys, or learning tasks that do not give them the chance to create or design is a disservice to them. Again, it limits them and their creativity.

3) Play – Just like us teachers need our own time to relax and do what we love most, students do as well. Giving students time to play allows for exploration and experimentation. Renick uses Scratch as a good example of what this could look like in the classroom.

4) Share – Having the ability to share and collaborate is a skill that is becoming more desirable for the work force. This is a life-long skill and students need to be given ample opportunities in the classroom environment to work with others and discover the ways in which collaboration and sharing can be successful.

5) Reflect – I have noticed that with genius hour and ideas like it, that recently reflection has become a critical piece to learning. Giving kids the time to think about what they did, what worked and what didn’t, and how they changed their design/thinking is an incredible tool to use to emphasize reflection. It’s hard to grasp an understanding of learning and failures without it.

Throughout this article, I could envision what this would look like in the ideal classroom, and even in my classroom now, the aspects I am already incorporating into my daily teaching. I guess I’m left to wonder, is it 100% attainable? Yes, this would be the way I would want to teach and allow my students ample opportunities to be creators of their own learning, but with an ever so tight curriculum to cover, where is the balance? How can I ensure my students are given enough time to experience this cyclical structure, without disregarding the curriculum I must teach?