WA Primary Principals' Association Presentation


Cracking the Code - A Whole-School Approach to Computer Coding

Brian Baily Associate Principal Edgewater Primary School

Email brian.baily@education.wa.edu.au


What is computer coding?

You’ve seen the craze for learning code. But what exactly is coding? Coding is what makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your OS, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and this website – they’re all made with code.

Here’s a simple example of code, written in the Python language:

print 'Hello, world!'

 Many coding tutorials use that command as their very first example, because it’s one of the simplest examples of code you can have – it ‘prints’ (displays) the text ‘Hello, world!’ onto the screen.

What our students see using blockly is:

Under these blocks is Javascript. Translated into code the green blocks in the middle looks something like:

moveForward();

turnLeft();

turnRight;


What is all the fuss about? Why teach it all - especially to primary students - including Kindergarten and Pre-primary? 


'Coding (or computer programming) is a new type of literacy. Just as writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, the same is true for coding. In the past, coding was seen as too difficult for most people. But we think coding should be for everyone, just like writing…children aren’t just learning to code, they are coding to learn.' Source: Technology in Early Childhood.

The Australian/WA Curriculum indicates that computer coding should be taught from Year 5 and programming from Year 7. Why Year 5? 

We start from Pre-primary - with trials to start soon with our kindergarten students.


How we cracked the code in a whole school way.

  1. Participated in the Hour of Code in December 2014 - optional for classes.
  2. Introduced lessons on a trial basis in computer coding with Pre-primary and Year 1 classes plus a Year 4 class.
  3. Following an evaluation of the trial classes, every class - except Kindergarten - participated in the Hour of Code in December 2015 in readiness for the introduction on a whole school basis in 2016.

All staff teaching coding completed a 3 hour online training course and then, using the provided lesson plans, commenced teaching the lessons once a week in the lab sessions. 

There are unplugged lessons which don't rely on a computer and are helpful in teaching students key concepts.


And the future for us?

  1. Evaluation of the initiative so far - what were the outcomes for our students?
  2. Participate in the Hour of Code in December 2016.
  3. Monitor developments in the Visual Technologies of the Australian and WA Curriculum.
  4. Create a Whole School Digital Technologies Operational Plan aligned to our Business Plan.
  5. Further explore other sources for coding to complement the programme we now have - eg Scratch and Scratch Jnr, Code.org's Minecraft, Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code, Code with Anna and Elsa, and Ozobot

 


 


What should I do as Principal/Deputy to get computer coding started in my school?

  1. Don't foam at the mouth about computer coding when you return to school!!
  2. Seek out someone who you think might be interested in 'having a go' at some of the code.org lessons after completing the online training and who you think could influence other teachers to 'have a go' as well.
  3. Have 'the chosen one(s)' log on to our website and work through the WAPPA presentation.
  4. Hasten slowly - as we did - so that you can bring 'the others' with you.
  5. MOST IMPORTANT - participate in the Hour of Code 2016 on an opt in basis for classes no matter what!!!! Use this resource - How to Teach one Hour of Code.

AND ABOVE ALL, HAVE FUN!!!!