I belong to a fabulous professional development group of educators and one of the discussion threads this week has been about programming, particularly in the early elementary grades. As I mentioned in a previous post, we introduce programming with Bee-Bots in kindergarten and progress each year into more challenging projects using MicroWorlds turtles and eventually Lego Mindstorms Robotics.
A recent article published by THE Journal challenges us to rethink about what it means to be fluent in today’s society. Mitch Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT stresses that teaching students the ability to code or program is an important part of being “fluent” today. He states, “In the same way that learning to read opens up opportunities for many other things, and learning to write gives you a new way to express yourself and seeing the world, we see coding is the same.”
Personally, I am a big believer in creative expression and allowing students to make meaningful connections to what they may already be learning in other classes. It is important to give students a break from the standards and curriculum driven aspect of education and allow their brains to think in a different way. As their teacher, I can facilitate those connections while still giving the students freedom to express their creativity in a logical way. This quote by Mitch Resnick sums it up for me perfectly… “Our goal is not to help kids learn to code, but to code to learn.”
Here are a few Apps that were recommended by the group to teach and facilitate programming in younger students. Click on the image for more info: