Essential question: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?
When searching for computer coding in schools I found almost exclusively support for teaching students, even elementary students, to code. In his TED Talk, Mitch Resnick (2012) likened coding to reading when he said first kids learn to read then they can read to learn, just like kids first learn to code then they code to learn. Coding is learning a new language (Zamora, 2014), and learning to code would open a whole new host of opportunities for students. Learning to code teaches valuable skills for many jobs and life in general including:
Collaboration (Resnick, 2012; Harrol, 2015)
Communication (Harrol, 2015)
Creativity (Zamora, 2014; Resnick, 2012)
Like Resnick (2012) said, not every student will become computer programmers, BUT the skills they attain from coding will help them in any department. Zamora (2014) argues, “If students can adopt the language of coding at an early age, they will have laid the foundation for a greater understanding of the tools they utilize in their everyday lives.” Coding has mainly been taught to older students, but Zamora (2014) positions that it makes sense to introduce coding to students in the younger grades while they are learning to read and write, as their brains are “learning and processing their literacy skills.”
After I read this, I just had to try Scratch Jr. (http://www.scratchjr.org/) and downloaded it onto my iPad. The 3:27 tutorial offered within the app was all I needed to get started. This is created for children ages 5-7, and I could really see this as a big hit in my 2nd grade room. We have an iPad cart for the elementary grades and each grade uses them for 1.5-2 hours a week. I plan to submit this app for approval on the iPads.
The only argument that I found against programming was by Sehringer (n.d.) in his article “Should we teach everyone to code?” He says, “My advice? Don’t teach everyone how to code. Teach them how to identify and understand needs, as well as how to visually express logic. Teach them how technology works, so they can understand the realm of possibility and then envision game-changing innovations. And then create an environment where they don’t even have to think about writing code — where building great apps is as easy as using iTunes. Just drag and drop.”
Overall there seems to be strong support for teaching kids to code. One concern could be finding time in our already packed schedule. Another concern could be not having enough technology/computers for the whole class. My solution to both of these concerns in the elementary classroom would be to offer it as a “special” or choice time. I could see it fitting in really nicely during a Genius Hour setting. In this way, our students would be exposed to it, but allowed to be creative ad have choice over whether they wanted to participate and what they wanted to create.
Harrol, Matt (2015, Mar 17). Add coding to your elementary curriculum…right now. Retreived from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/add-coding-elementary-curriculum-now-matt-harrell
Ted Talk: Mitch Resnick: Let’s teach kids to code (2012, Nov). http://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code?language=en
Sehringer, Gottfried (n.d.) Should we really try to teach everyone to code? Wired. Retreived from: http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/should-we-really-try-to-teach-everyone-to-code/
Zamora, Wendy (2014, Apr 1). Why coding should be taught in elementary school. Retreived from: https://techblog.evan-moor.com/2014/04/01/coding-taught-elementary-school/