Feb 21

Learning to Code, Coding to Learn!

I have had a lot of fun this year maximizing opportunities to teach students computer programing.  At Goochland Elementary School we have an after-school club that meets once a week to work through lessons, practice skills, and play games (created by other coders) on Khan Academy’s Code Academy and Code Avengers.  Starting in March at Byrd, a group will meet after-school to learn the basics of Scratch.  At Byrd and Goochland elementary schools some students learn computer programing by developing projects in Scratch as a part of their GRIP projects with Glenda Hawk and Lisa Brown (these two are amazing, and just presented at the VA Children’s Engineering Conference).  Some may ask, “Why are students spending their time in and out of school learning to code?”  Computer programing is not a required learning skill in the state of Virginia, but it is easy to justify the importance of teaching students computer programing starting at an early age.


In recent years with the appearance of numerous, free programs that teach computer programing with easy to follow lessons, students across the country have started to learn computer programing.  As a former classroom teacher, I understand making a case against teaching computer programing in schools – it takes time!  There is, however, lots of discussion in the field of education that supports the importance of teaching young students computer programing.  I read an article not to long ago that highlighted the anticipated need for computer programmers in the near future, and compared that statistic to the number of adults entering the workforce who are equipped with this skill.  There is now, and will be, a deficit.  The link to that article has eludes me now, but in the process of searching for it I came across a variety of additional articles that discuss the importance of teaching computer programing.


In this article the author mentions that when you learn to code, then you can code to learn.  Students can create programs such as teaching games, review games, and presentations to share information students learn in school.  The article makes an analogy to learning to read and write that helps to make sense of students learning to code in schools.  When students learn to read and write, a whole world of learning opens up to them.  The same is true for learning to code.  As students develop programs for curriculum content, then they will better secure an understanding of that material (all while sharing their products with peers).


The article linked here, titled Kids Learn to Code in Grade School, also brings to light the importance of students learning to code.  This quote particularly stood out to me: “ Programming is just writing in the language of computers, so why not teach kids to code like we teach them to write?”


I highly recommend reading the article Should Kids Learn to Code in Grade School?  if you still doubt the purpose of teaching young students computer programing skills.  The article reminds readers that learning to program is essentially the study of a language, more so than the study of technology.  Once a person understands this language (or one of the many languages), then the ability to create is unlimited!  This article outlines four benefits to learning to code.


I look forward to sharing more future opportunities available to Goochland students in the area of computer programing as we continue to support this endeavor!