Coding for Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity – Marsha Harris, Director of Curriculum

What is Information Age Learning All About?

The phrase, “21st Century Learning,” has become the latest buzzword in education.  But is it really new concept? Are we completely changing the way that teaching and learning occurs in this – relatively – new century? In some ways, yes; but in many ways, no. It is easy to connect images for technological tools such as tablets and laptops to the phrase. However, 21st Century Learning shouldn’t be focused on the technology at all. The key is teaching students dynamic ways to learn, to gather information, and to be successful members of our ever-shrinking global society.  The technology is simply a vehicle to achieve understanding and ignite curiosity.  The tools available to students in this age of information where empower them to shift from simply consuming content to creating content and sharing it with the world! It is an exciting paradigm shift in education.

The Importance of Learning to Read and Write Code

When students learn to code, they learn to think analytically, problem solve, and practice public speaking skills.  They begin to think like inventors, entrepreneurs, and creators. Exposure to coding provides opportunities for students to seek out their passions and share their understanding with a broader audience. This is an incredible gift for our young students in the beginning stages of their educational journeys.

Throughout Europe and Asia, coding and computer science are core elements of education beginning at age five. In a way, coding is a new form of literacy. It is important to introduce these concepts at an early age so that they become regular practice, similar to learning a new language.

Obviously, coding looks very different at every stage of development. Last year in the Idea Lab, students were introduced to coding and programming in a variety ways. From playing with apps like Kodable, Hopscotch, and Daisy the Dinosaur, to exploring the tutorials on Code.org, students learned the core foundation of computer programming; in order for your device to perform an action, there must be a command programmed.

Currently, our 6th graders are digging deep into app development through a program called MAD Learn. In science, the students are using this tool to demonstrate their understanding of science related content where they can create an app, and share it within our Trinity community. Our students will explore the concept of app development within their different subjects throughout the year. MAD Learn is an excellent way for students to direct and personalize their learning experience, and hone the important information age skills known as the 4C’s; Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity.

Student Highlight- Kennedy Walker

This past June, Kennedy Walker ‘15 joined me at a conference hosted by the International Society for Technology Education.  The conference brought nearly 18,000 educators from across the globe to the Georgia World Congress Center to discuss many facets of 21st Century education and technology’s role in new approaches to teaching.   For an entire morning, Kennedy presented her app called, “French Teacher by Kennedy,” to a very interested group of educators, gathered around Kennedy four-deep, listening as she shared her experience with mobile app development. The teachers quickly realized that this exercise was not about the technology at all, but about the process of learning and the technological tool’s role in allowing her to demonstrate her understanding of learning French.

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Kennedy’s work is a perfect example of the critical importance of the 4C’s in the information age, and how technology can be used as a vehicle for mastering these skills. Trinity has again partnered with Mad Learn for the 2014-15 school year, and will be working on Mobile App Development with many of our Upper Elementary Division students. Through the work of the classroom teachers, collaborative projects in the idea Lab, and self-directed discovery in iHub (the School’s new makerspace), Trinity students will have limitless opportunities to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create.

Listen to Kennedy’s interview on BAM Radio Network.


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