The Coding Journey From A Teacher’s Perspective

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If you are a teacher, then you can relate to this! We have all been in that situation where something is sprung on us at the last minute. We, as teachers, have to adapt to change daily.

Picture it…you are in the first faculty meeting of the year, you have a million things to do before the students arrive and the principal announces that he has great news. Of course, you brace yourself because his idea of great news usually means more on your plate.

He proceeds to announce that he challenges everyone to try something new this year, especially something that encourages computational thinking and maybe a computer language (as he turns and winks at me, the digital literacy teacher).

My insides crumble and I instantly wanted to SCREAM.

Teachers spend much of their summer decompressing, but we also plan for the next school year. Especially in August, with a start date of September. We have nameplates written, numbers assigned to the students, our curriculum maps were written over the summer and placed nicely in your brand new binder. We have a “plan” for the year already laid out. As the Digital Literacy teacher, I have requested all the applications that I need for the year and whitelisted all of the websites too. 

After the faculty meeting, I instantly went into my principal’s office.

Me: Now I need to teach a computer language?

Principal: Yes

Me: I don’t know how to code. I am not a programmer.

Principal: You’ll figure something out.

Me: Which computer language? Who’s going to teach me?

Principal: Ummmm, I don’t know and if you need PD, let me know

So, off I went! I started searching for a computer language that I could understand AND teach. I stumbled upon a lesson using binary numbers and thought, “I can do this.” The lesson was very detailed and I could even find a video of the lesson in action. (you can locate the lesson here and the video here.)

Let me just say, “Drop Mic!”

I nailed the lesson, the kids were SO engaged, and I received “highly effective” for my observation.

So I brushed off my hands and said, “Done!”

Wait, not so fast! The students kept asking:

“Are we going to do more with binary?”

“How about block coding? I do that at home.”

“Mrs. Renda…we want to learn more about computer languages.”

My principal heard the buzz and called me into his office.

Principal: You did it! The students are chatting about coding. Do more!

Me: What?? More??

So, again I went home that night and researched block coding. Hmmm, block coding seems easy. I’ll just throw the students on that application and see what they make, let them explore.

STOP!! Epic fail!

Many students struggled, asked tons of questions, and said at the end of class, “Can we go back to binary? This was too confusing and it wasn’t fun.”

What? Really? So I thought about it. Why were they getting so frustrated? They are on computers all the time, playing games and watching videos. Why couldn’t they do this? What was so different between the binary lesson and block coding?

And then it clicked! I EXPLAINED the binary lesson, we TALKED about key vocabulary, we PRACTICED as a whole group, and then they worked INDEPENDENTLY

Why would I change the way I teach so drastically? Of course, the students need an explanation. When they learn to read, we don’t just throw a book in their hands and say “read”. We don’t put them in front of a bunsen burner before explaining how to use it. Why would coding be any different?

Okay, RESTART.

The next day I announce that we are going to revisit block coding. The crowd groaned. “Now wait…give me a chance.”

I admitted to them that I was new to this as well and that we were going to learn together. A few students that have done block coding before spoke up and said they would help along the way.

So we dove in….

  1. Engagement. I showed them some sample projects created using block-style coding. I could tell that I was starting to pique their interest based on the whispers.
  1. Explore. Then I showed them the workspace, blocks, and we talked about the common vocabulary words like sprites and costumes. My more experienced students gave some tips and suggestions that made it very helpful.
  1. Learn. I gave them a beginner-level project that was already done for them. This allowed them to play with the different blocks that were already presented to them.
  1. Create. The next day the students felt more confident with their new skill and said they were ready to try another project. This time I gave them a beginner-level project where they only had to use a few blocks to create an animated name. 

From there, the students were off and running. Those that had a more difficult time reached out to those that were more advanced. I watched the students and learned right along with them.

At the end of the day, I got called into the principal’s office AGAIN!

Me: (deep breath and release)

Principal: Thank you for taking this “coding project” on. The students really seem to be enjoying it.

Me: (big smile) Thank you!

Principal: Sooooo, now the students and parents are asking for a Girls Who Code club. Know anyone that would be interested in being the advisor? (wink, wink) Oh, and, do more coding in your classroom too!

Here we go again, but this time I GOT THIS! 

I asked myself:

  1. Where do I go for the curriculum?
  2. Will I and the students need to learn another application?
  3. How do I, as the teacher, teach something I know nothing about?

Turn to BSD Education!

BSD Education provides a curriculum that is skill-based, not age-based. All the projects are real-world, scaffolded, easy to follow, and are linked to CSTA and ISTE standards.

Each project comes with a slide deck containing teaching notes, a planning document when needed, a guided project for the students, quizzes to assess understanding, and the ability to export their project into sandbox mode where the students can get creative with the code or the teacher can integrate the project into their core curriculum.

BSD Education gives students the ability to express their own interests and passions by using HTML, CSS, and JS, which are languages used by professionals. BSD uses these languages to teach digital skills such as digital citizenship, problem-solving, and computational thinking.

BSD’s platform is really easy to use for both the teacher and the student. They provide you with an easy and safe way for the students to log in either via Google, Microsoft, a user-friendly username and password, and a generated secret code to join the classroom.

The platform provides a way for the students and teacher to collaborate and a convenient way for students to ask for help, which not only notifies the teacher but also gives you a link to the step they are having trouble with.

The students’ progress is shown in real-time and provides built-in quizzes to check for understanding.

BSD Education provides the support needed to help every teacher be successful in teaching digital skills. BSD provides professional development to help you set up your classroom, invite students, and choose the best courses and projects that best meet your students’ needs. 

But wait there’s more (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Seriously…usually that’s where the support ends, however, BSD Education also provides continuous support throughout the school year by lending 1:1 coaching sessions, on-demand online support, glossary cards to support the student (and the teacher), and model answers to all of the projects. 

Nailed it!

Mic drop!

about Allison
Allison has over a decade of experience in the classroom as a teaching assistant, an AIS (Academic Intervention Service) math teacher, a high school business teacher, and most recently a digital literacy teacher.
Like most teachers, Allison wore multiple hats. She was also the district-wide technology coach and trainer. She brings with her multiple certifications such as Google Educator and Trainer. Allison believes that technology is a powerful tool that all students need to be taught how to use safely, respectfully, and responsibly. She feels that when these values are followed, students will be more successful in life.

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