You can't scroll through social media without coming across an ad for a coding class or an article about coding with children, especially in December during Computer Science Education Week or as popularly known as #HourofCode. There is a good reason for that! Coding is not just another language or something that techie people do. When students code, they are collaborating with their peers and gaining critical, computation, and creative thinking skills. Coding plants the seeds for everything from problem-solving to ethical responsibility. Starting at an early age, students gain a deeper understanding of the logic and advanced thinking behind the programming. Here are examples from a few of the grade levels:
In Kindergarten, students are introduced to cute fuzzy creatures in Kodable, navigating them through the world. Students start to understand that you can't just move the fuzzy across the passages, but you have to code it and direct it with arrows. Through this process, students are able to review their work and go back to locate the mistake and reprogram the fuzzy to get it on the right path. Students are fully engaged in solving the puzzles while building their self-confidence.
In Grade Two, students are building on their skill of coding with the use of Scratch Jr. in conjunction with the Immigration unit. They are using block coding to retell the immigration story of their families. They are creating characters, backgrounds, and voice-overs to bring the history of their grandparents and at times great-grandparents to life in this digital world! Coding allows students to create content, not just consume it. It is putting students in the driver’s seat and gives them the responsibility to think differently about the technology they use in their everyday lives.
In Grade Eight, students explored how NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory captures data and transmits it back to Earth via code, and in turn, the code is translated back to images that eyes can understand. Students used Pencil Code to interpret and modify the data from the Steatite! Students used math, computational thinking, reasoning and collaboration to successfully complete this particular NASA mission!
Through school experiences, our students gain creative-thinking and critical-thinking skills and develop a passion for lifelong learning. At Chicago Jewish Day School, we focus our teaching around thinking, stressing knowledge over information. Our inquiry-based curriculum encourages a curious, questioning and critical stance and develops a deepening understanding of important ideas. Facts and skills are important in a context and for a purpose. We challenge students by inviting them to think deeply about the issues that matter, helping them understand ideas from the inside out, and making connections between ideas and concepts. Students can then actively use these insights to apply what they have learned to their daily lives, expand understanding and even take action. --CJDS Educational Philosophy Statement