Happy New Year and welcome back to school for 2018! Over the holidays I noticed Annelyse De Marco doing some pretty amazing things in her classroom so I reached out and asked for an interview. Annelyse and her class participated in the Hour of Code and there was plenty of fun to be had!
1) Who is Annelyse DeMarco?
My name is Annelyse DeMarco and I am a grade 2 teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. I am new to teaching primary this year after spending the last few years in grades 6-8.
2) Have you ever had experience coding before?
My first experience with coding was this week. After seeing various tweets the last week about Hour of Code, I decided to check out some of the coding activities available online. I was compelled to these tasks with my primary students since my experience with intermediate students has demonstrated the importance of developing a good foundation of digital literacy skills in the early years.
3) You mentioned coding with your own class this week. What was the task? What grade? What devices?
My biggest concern with coding with my grade 2 students was the reading aspect, as a lot of my students are ELL’s who are new to Canada. However, after exploring www.code.org for myself, I saw that there were various tasks available for pre-readers. When introducing coding to my students, I set up a laptop and projector and modeled how to access the website while the students followed along, in pairs, on Chrome books. I then demonstrated two of the different tasks (Puppy Adventure and Kodable). Students then began to code on one of the tasks available for pre-readers. I circulated and showed some of my more proficient readers more challenging tasks as well.
My students absolutely loved coding! A lot of the students asked if I could write the website in their agendas so they could “play” at home. On this particular day, we had an hour of time scheduled with our technology buddies later that afternoon, and almost all of the students chose to spend that time coding with their grade 8 buddy.
5) What did you notice?
When circulating the room, I noticed that every single one of my students was engaged in the task they had selected, and were easily able to navigate and troubleshoot the activity. The conversations I overheard were exciting. Many students made connections to prior math learning, that I did not even notice at first. When determining how many runs to code in Puppy Adventure , I overheard several students exclaiming things like “it’s just like a number line! Even though there are only 3 circles on the floor you have to count the number of jumps!” and “we need to find the pattern core so we know what part to repeat!” I was ecstatic that my students were not only making connections to their prior learning, but applying their knowledge to a new context.
6) Do you see value in having students code further in other classes?
I think that coding is an extremely valuable experience for students. As my students noticed, there are so many connections that can be made to the mathematics curriculum that allow students to apply their learning in an authentic way. Coding also allows students the opportunity to read and communicate effectively. Even though a lot of my students are pre-readers, they were still reading, as they were taking meaning from what was in front of them, and applying it with purpose. It is beneficial for primary students to begin understanding coding in our ever advancing technological society.
Thanks Annelyse! I look forward to following your coding journey online in 2018! I hope you have a great first week back!