Over the past two years, coding has been a major emphasis among our technology speciality courses. Coding skills in education promote a wide variety of benefits to our students. Students must think creatively, work cooperatively, and reason chronologically. We have introduced coding and programming in three phases over the past two years. Our first phase was aimed at introducing fundamental concepts and sequential cognitive skills necessary to code.
Our second phase introduced a barrage of programming apps, skills and terminology. Now, our last phase asks students to create a basic interactive program through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s web based creator, Scratch. Scratch is a web based programing language and creation platform hosted and provided by MIT’s Media Lab to encourage programming skills in elementary education. As a part of phase two, our elementary students in kindergarten through 5th grade worked with the iOS app Scratch Jr. Working in this more simplified version, students developed some familiarity with the platform and got a glimpse of what the designers had in mind.
Since the introduction of the more advanced web creator, Scratch is quickly becoming a favorite among elementary students at Midtown. The Scratch engine is not compatible on iOS so students have been working in our Media Center on Macbooks and Mac Mini’s. While iOS mobile products are incredibly convenient and easy to use, desktop and laptop OS devices offer much more computing power for working on larger projects. Working with the Scratch programming platform offers a great learning opportunity in desktop computing skills to our elementary students. We are just getting our feet wet with learning the blockly language and how to apply basic functions within the creator. Elementary students in 2nd through 5th grade will continue to develop skills within the platform and eventually create their own interactive program. To make something interactive like a video game or app, it requires several tiers of programming. Even the most basic interactive apps or games require immense amounts of systematic reasoning. In the coming weeks, students will design, code and troubleshoot their way to an interactive masterpiece. Like any coding endeavor, I anticipate it will be fun but challenging.