A Coding Interview With Tereza Salerno!

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A Coding Interview With Tereza Salerno!
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I reached out to Tereza Salerno after seeing a tweet online. Tereza had mentioned she tried coding this week with her class. Curious, I sent her an email asking for more information. Have a read through of our conversation below. My biggest take away is the sense of accomplishment her students felt. Amazing!

1) Who is Tereza Salerno? 

I am a new teacher, new resident of Toronto and someone who loves to explore. I love playing outside, trying new things and discovering new ways to push myself to learn in a variety of ways. Cooking is my true love, teaching is my passion, the French language is how it all ties together. I am a techie at heart, learning to navigate the many tools at my disposal.

2) You mentioned trying coding during your time at the Faculty of Ed? Can you tell me more about that?

I attended the University of Ottawa in the P/J FSL program. I took a Pedagogical Technology course in my second year which was extremely informative. We got to use Sphero, Scratch, Dash and Dot, Makey-Makey, etc. We explored a variety of tech tips, tools and resources – many of which involved different coding apps. Our professor really helped facilitate our reflection on the use of coding and other TPACK ideas to help engage our learners and further our understanding of computational thinking. I really felt inexperienced in using all of these technologies, especially while coding. My biggest takeaway from the course was that it’s important to take risks in trying to implement new tools in the classroom, because the results will help push our students to work within the 21st century skills framework.

3) I see you teach in TDSB, congrats on that! You mentioned coding with your own class for this first time this week. What was the task? What grade? What devices?  

I teach Grade 1 French Immersion at John Fisher Jr Public School and we participated in Hour of Code by using Kodable in my classroom. Students worked in groups of 4 for 15 minute intervals throughout the entire day (aside from recess, lunch and my prep periods). We started by talking about experiences with coding and technology. I introduced the words programmer, coding and sequence (in French), so that students had some vocabulary to work with. We discussed different coding symbols and I asked students to use their bodies to show me what the code would ‘make the computer do’. Once this was done, we began the rotations.

4) How did they like it?

Students were really engaged during the entirety of the activities. Some found the higher levels of Kodable more difficult, but without helping them I encouraged students to continue working with the code until they reached a solution to the level. I could hear them discussing how they each were successful in passing different levels, and it was a really nice experience to see my students helping each other reach a specific shared goal.

5) What did you notice?

Some students worked on the iPads with ease, while others needed much more assistance logging in, etc. My students do use the iPads everyday, but using a variety of apps for a variety of purposes – so, the Kodable landing page was harder to navigate for some than for others. I tried to allow students to work within the app independently, but some required extra explanation while logging in and finding the various levels. Overall, they were quiet, engaged and I could see how happy they were working with this app.
Another thing I noticed was the pride that students felt when they went from one level to another. I could see their sense of accomplishment while they were coding, but they then expressed this sense of accomplishment to me after the activity. They were happy, engaged and we were willing to share what they done while using this app. I even had some students ask me what exactly the app was called so that they could ask their parents to load it on their home device.

6) Do you see value in having students code further in other classes?

I’m trying to encourage other teachers in my school to participate in this coding adventure. I put in a request with my admin that they buy my class an Osmo kit, to which they obliged. I believe I am being used a testing class this year to try out a variety of new coding tools, and then based on my experiences, I can share what worked, what didn’t and whether or not other primary classrooms should also be given these tools.
Tomorrow I’m also continuing my coding activities. I’m going to use kodable a lot, but also have students create their own physical code to help navigate them around the room. I’m really excited to see their reactions to this and I hope it keeps them as engaged as Kodable did. We are also introducing Dash and Dot in my classroom next week, so I plan on using them as a cross-curricular teaching tool for French and Social Studies. Lots of exciting ways to implement coding, and I’m so glad that I started this with my class.

7) Anything else you’d like us to know? 

I’m always looking for French tools in coding, so if you hear of anything or know of any effective ways to implement it into a French language classroom, please let me know!

Thank you Tereza! Have try tried the hour of code in French? At the bottom of the code.org homepage you can change the language to French. Doing so makes all the code blocks also clear in French, like the entire website. Hope this help!
Connect with Tereza on twitter here!
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