Coding in the Classroom
Coding in the Classroom

Today, laptops and tablets are commonplace for students of all ages. Whether writing a senior thesis or learning the alphabet, technology plays an integral role in the classroom for students and teachers.

The Lower School recently held a school-wide "Period of Code" during which all classes worked on coding-specific activities and projects. "The event was specifically designed to give students an understanding that coding can be done through the lens of any curriculum and not relegated to a technology classroom," explained Lower School Technology Coach Christian Cloud.

Pre-Kindergarten through 5th graders embraced the experience and learned that coding can be fun - especially in music, physical education, and science classes.

The event was organized by Mr. Cloud and fellow Technology Coach Kim Farrell, Hon.

Click here to see photos from the day.

We recently sat down with Mr. Cloud to learn more about the event and why coding education is so important.

What is coding, and why is it important for students to learn about it?

CC: Coding is a way of thinking and the language of digital machines. As our civilization becomes more advanced with technology, students will need to be fluent in the language of coding in order to effectively engage in all pursuits. As the parents of today created dioramas for their classroom projects, our students will be writing programs for theirs. Most facets of future life, even the routine and mundane, will involve some type of coding.

Is there a perfect age to learn about coding?

CC: From the moment we are born, we are beginning to learn the basics behind coding and computational thinking. Patterns and sequencing strengthen our understanding on how codes can be created to interact with the world around us. When a child learns to read, they are learning the code of language. When they play a musical instrument, they are experiencing musical code. In most sports, the team generates a set of code (plays) and executes them against the opposing team's algorithm. Even playing traditional games like Patty Cake or Candyland supports the coding mindset.

At EA, our students begin with directional coding in Pre-Kindergarten. This type of coding uses only basic symbolic functions like left arrow, right arrow, up arrow, down arrow, go, and stop. This is a great way for our youngest emergent readers to achieve success writing code without the barriers of language. Directional coding can begin as early as a child can understand and complete simple commands.

Who participated in the recent "Period of Code" event?

CC: Coding is a vital part of our curriculum. Our PreK-5th grade students, wherever they were, dropped everything and began coding. Our P.E. teachers showed how patterns in physical activity promoted coding, our science teachers defined the algorithm of planting a seed, and our Kindergarten students became organic robots, mapping out our Lower School through commands. Everyone in the Lower School came together and facilitated a great holistic coding experience for students.

What did you enjoy most while working on developing this event?

CC: The best part about this experience was working with the teachers in order to have them generate coding lessons through the curriculum they were already teaching. Collaborating with them and providing a deeper understanding of how coding intersects with their curriculum translated into a more robust experience for the students. The "ah-ha" moments for me were students making the connection between what seemed like disparate subjects.

The faculty are a huge part of the success of an event like this and coding throughout the curriculum. We really wanted the teachers to be an integral part of this event. The teachers are passionate about coding. It is great to collaborate with a staff that understands the importance of technology in the curriculum and strives to integrate.