- Joanne Croix
Why Coding is Key
From this term, at Astor we have included Coding as an extra-curricular activity (ECA) option for the children. Coding requires and develops many key skills that are important for children’s holistic growth and development. Aside from learning basic programming and debugging, coding also focuses on the following soft skills:
* Astor’s Personal Goals
Collaboration, investigation, critical thinking
The coding ECA planning allows children to develop their knowledge and skills of programming by learning small, simple steps that build over time.
The course starts with the children moving the Angry Bird around the maze in one step. The children use visual blocks to complete the simple line of code. For example, a line of code on the block may read, “Move North.” The children watch their code in action when they press the play, or run, button. This line of code then builds to move an object across multiple spaces and to change direction. For example, “Move North. Move North. Move West.” This skill helps children to learn about sequencing from the start. As children move through the course, they continue to add more lines of code, such as looping, to develop their algorithm skills. The programme finishes with the children making a game where two characters interact at an event.
Internet Safety for Children
Any activity that requires children to use the web includes a session on internet safety. This was the first, most important step for the children’s coding journey. The children learned what it meant to have a ‘digital footprint’ and why it’s important to be careful about what they are sharing online.
To put this concept into action, two animals were used as an example for the children. The information on each animal’s digital footprint was written on six cards. The cards were scattered around the classroom and the children looked for the cards in groups. The children then sorted the animals’ footprints into ‘Ok to Share’ and ‘Not OK to Share’. This collaborative exercise allows children to reflect on how and why they should use the internet with caution.
Critical thinking, resilience, collaboration
Debugging - how to identify and resolve a problem with hardware or software.
The children learn what debugging is very early on in the course and how to use their resilience in times of frustration. As the children are new to coding (and even if they have prior experience), the platform that they will use at school will more than likely be different from the one they have previously used. This means learning new ways of operating the device, such as turning it on, accessing the coding website or finding the back button. All of this can be very frustrating, especially when you are in the middle of coding and your device has defaulted back to the home screen (this happened a LOT in the first two sessions). The children learn how to deal with their emotions healthily in times of feeling upset. These actions include taking a breath, counting to 10 and collaborating with their partner to problem-solve issues.
Coding is a fun way for children to develop and build on many skills that they can transfer into other areas of their learning. For example, collaborating with a partner in maths to solve a number problem. Basic programming builds children’s skills over time to enable them to write more long lines of code and more interesting algorithms.
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