Last year, the Hour of Code global project launched to spread the field of Computer Science to students everywhere.
Classrooms across the globe participated in what was one of the most widespread, Ed-tech engagements, ever. As of this entry, over 24 million students participated in the Hour of Code and collectively, they entered almost 1 billion lines of programming.
As out-of-school specialists, one of our primary responsibilities includes the curating and testing of a various curriculum resources. Before the Hour of Code hit the scene in December of 2013, our 5th and 6th grade students were fortunate enough to have already been involved in computer programming lessons and tutorials through Edmodo’s LearnStreet App. The difficult part was trying to demonstrate to them the benefits of learning a computer language.
Fortunately, here at Loma Verde Elementary, we have several components which worked in our favor.
- Access – Our great relationship with the school principal allowed us to use the computer lab freely – this meant that on any given morning or afternoon, we had access to their PC’s. It was such a personal victory to hear students in our morning program would oftentimes want to code, first thing in the morning!
- Examples – I had pulled a collection of webpages and simple examples which exhibited the results of hand-coded projects – I actually think the students found this to be particularly beneficial because they were able to see the possibilities come into fruition.
- Badges – I did the LearnStreet lessons beforehand and printed out each badge as I earned them myself – this way, every time a student completed a section, we’d print out a copy of their badge and put it on a wall next their names. Badges are the new motivators, educators everywhere should use them. The wall was entitled The Fresh Coders and was on display in my office.
One of the most interesting aspects of this entire project was how computer coding broke the language barrier.
With the Loma Verde learning community based out of Chula Vista, CA, many of our students are English Language Learners. Still, even those who struggle with speaking fluent English would approach one of our staff members and ask questions like: “Why isn’t my paragraph showing up?” or “Mr. Randy, where do I close the tag?”
It is my personal belief that learning to code can not only provide students with a chance for more technology exposure, but it can also be an opportunity for them to explore the languages of the 21st century. Additionally, this gives them more freedom to create, problem-solve, and collaborate. When showing my students an infographic of the kinds of salaries that software engineers and web-developers make, this enticed them even more!
After all, what kid does not have dreams of being “rich” one day?
If your school has not yet had a chance to take part in this fantastic global project, I sincerely encourage you to try it out. As out-of-school professionals, we have the opportunity to introduce new material, lessons, and projects to our students that they would normally not have time for during the regular school day. In fact, I encourage you and your staff teams to give it a try too! Who knows, maybe your school has the individual who will invent the next major social media guru. What we do know is that our students are inventive, thoughtful, and creative – they are, ultimately, Makers in the Making.
For breakfast I had: Hazelnut coffee with homemade Chilaquiles – delicious!
Author: Randy Tolentino
Site Supervisor/Ed-Tech Leader
South Bay Family YMCA
Chula Vista, CA
Randy Tolentino is an out-of-school professional who has thrived in the field for 15 years. His work in youth services began immediately after graduating high-school where he brought entertainment and excitement to the community of military families in Atsugi, Japan. Subsequently, Randy moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend college; over the next 10 years, he would dedicate his heart and time to serve various learning communities, including Spectrum Center Schools, Head Royce, Camelot Private School, and the Montessori School of Fremont. Today, he is a Site Supervisor for the South Bay Family YMCA STRETCH program, a state-funded program devoted to improving the literacy of children in west Chula Vista. With a passion in technology, Randy also serves as the lead curator and proponent for Ed-tech resources within his department; every day, you can find Randy integrating technology to teach various critical-skills such as digital citizenship, financial literacy, and the mitigation of cyber-bullying. Randy resides in San Diego, where he lives with his beautiful and supportive wife, and their two sons.