Mr Kemp NZ

The Key to Coding – Part 1

Kim%20VernonToday’s blog is a guest post from the amazing Kim Vernon, who blogs at www.missICT.com. Kim is Head of Integrated Technologies for Infant students at Tanglin Trust School, Singapore. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she has been teaching overseas since 2008. Kim is a Google Certified Teacher and has a Master of Education. She has recently begun to share her knowledge and skills by speaking at regional and international conferences. For more, follow Kim on Twitter.

In this Part 1 of a 2 part blog series, I will be looking at coding and the theory behind the ‘why’. Learning to code has been all the buzz lately and has had a resurgence of interest in the field of education over the past 12 months.

So why coding? Why now?

If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, the concept or theory behind computer science in the curriculum is not new, well not within Early Years Education. If we stop and think for a minute, what is happening when we code? We end up with – Problem Solving. Plain and simple……Computer programmers, computer scientists……solve problem!

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Our young learners spend every day solving and overcoming problems and obstacles. As educators, we set up scenarios, we pose problems and we guide the children towards finding strategies. These challenges are often in Maths and Science lessons but we sometimes see them in Physical Education and language classes too. We always strive to relate these problem solving skills to contexts, it makes sense if children can relate to real life scenarios.

And this is where coding fits in.

Computer programmers spend time solving many of our daily issues using digital code. Think about the traffic lights, ATM machines, computers and smart phones, all of which help us run our lives. Thinking skills, collaborating and deciding what the best solution would be and how to make that work is vital. These same skills are an important foundation for children to have.

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So what might the WHY look like?

Step 1: Before you run straight to a digital tool to teach coding, stop and reflect on why you are doing this and what skills you are trying to develop:

  1. Problem Solving
  2. Logical Thinking Skills
  3. Collaboration

Step 2: What areas of the curriculum can I develop these skills in?

  1. Mathematics is an easy one to start with and links closely to complex coding
  2. Science investigations involve all 3 top skills
  3. Physical Education is often not thought about as an area to develop these skills but young learners can benefit from the both the space and structure of P.E. to develop the skills needed for coding.

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So with an understanding of why (the skills to be taught) and some thought on which areas of the curriculum you can teach these in, young learners can begin to understand the theory behind coding.

I would love to hear your thoughts on why you are coding in your classroom. Can you add to my top 3 skills?

Keep an eye out for part 2 (coming soon), where I will look at the how and what tools we can use with young learners to bring problem solving, logical thinking and collaboration to life.

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Head of Educational Technology at a large International School in Singapore. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great blog entry! A very exciting topic and your 3 skills are on point. I would also put Leadership in there as I have found my students respond better to assistance from their peers rather than me telling how to do something.

    My year 2 students love using Code Studio on code.org. We started with the ‘Hour of Code’ stuff including the ‘offline’ lessons. I found talking about what’s behind the code and completing paper based coding (similar to what’s shown in your pictures with templates and directional arrows) very important. It allowed me to introduce new coding websites/apps and the kids were able to work it out for themselves. I introduced Scratch recently with very little explicit instruction and there was 100% engagement and plenty of student leadership, collaboration and problem solving.

    Keen to read Part 2!

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