Tuesday, December 1, 2015

SDJ and Code.org Part II

by Guest Blogger, Amanda Werner 
Madison Elementary 5th Grade Challenge Program Teacher and Code.org Affiliate

Why We Need Computer Programming in Elementary School

As classroom teachers, it is our responsibility to help our students master grade-level standards. However, we also understand that our grade level is just one rung on a ladder that ultimately hoists students to the ranks of college and career readiness. Despite the unknowns of their future, it is wise to plan for a world with technological influence. As curriculum developers, we must begin to better prepare students for careers that involve computer science (CS). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 100,000 of the highest paying American jobs have gone and are projected to go unfilled each year simply because we are not producing enough qualified students to fill them. These jobs span a broad spectrum of educational experience from technical school certifications to four-year college degrees.

The key to encouraging students to pursue careers in CS begins with early and repeated exposure.  When you think about it, we begin to lay the foundations of most jobs in elementary school. We introduce basic biological concepts long before we call it biology. We spark interests in civics, journalism and architecture within the walls of our elementary schools. In my estimation, we do this for three very important reasons: 

to build a foundational knowledge set to grow on
to cultivate interest for continued study
to develop the confidence to persevere

If we do not expose students to computer science instruction in elementary school, we rob them of these essential mindsets, so by the time they can elect to take CS in high school, they have the misconception that it’s too difficult or it won’t be something they’d enjoy. The first compelling reason we need to teach computer programming in elementary school is because early and repeated exposure will ultimately open doors of opportunity for our students. 

The second reason we need to teach computer science and programming in elementary school offers more immediate gains. The skills of programming are transferrable across our curriculum. Each lesson is a model of 21st century learning. Programming and thinking like a computer are exercises in creative approaches to problem solving, critical decision making, persistence, collaboration and crystal clear communication. All activities on Code.org are tied to CCSS in ELA and math, NGSS and CS standards.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment - Code.org in Partnership with SDJ: An Hour of Code is Coming

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