What I (and other educators) have noticed over the years is that student attention spans are dwindling, they require more stimulus, they give up easier when faced with a challenge and in doing so don’t every find a true sense of accomplishment. They are afraid to make mistakes, and in turn, they are afraid to try.
I am constantly looking for ways to engage students in problem solving situations that require persistence; Opportunities for them to be meta cognitive, to reason through obstacles, and to persist in finding a solution. I found that in code.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a tech enthusiast, so when I first heard about Hour of Code, I had to try it for myself! I was so impressed by the skills required to complete coding lessons, I felt like it needed to be an integral part of our daily routines. So I asked our 3-5 teachers if I could introduce it to students and I don’t think any of us were prepared for the levels of engagement we saw. Students were talking to each other, they were problem solving, they were helping each other…and best of all, they were proud of what they accomplished.
The experience opened up dialogue about fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets and we got an authentic opportunity to talk about productive struggle and the willingness to fail.
After the success we saw, we decided to incorporate coding as an option in our Math Workshop block as a “may do” when daily work and individualized learning programs were complete. Weeks later, they are still excited to complete coding challenges.
I truly believe that the opportunities that students have had at “debugging” their coding lessons will transfer into their mathematical reasoning and better prepare them for scenarios they will face in their daily lives and in their future careers.