Going Beyond the Hour of Code
Our coding journey in Superior-Greenstone started like many others: with the Hour of Code. This global event is an opportunity for many learners to get exposure to coding. However, after several years of promoting and celebrating this event within the Board, I realized that for most participants, the Hour of Code was a one-off experience that really didn’t have a lasting impact on their learning. Last year we partnered with Lisa Floyd, Director of Research and Inquiry at Fair Chance Learning, and provided our Technology Champions with opportunities for hands on learning and virtual learning throughout the year. The year-long learning and community building was a game changer for many, as we saw computational thinking as a way to incorporate 21st century competencies and coding into our classrooms while linking to specific Ontario curriculum. We felt a growing confidence and passion for our new found computational thinking capabilities and many transferred this new learning directly to their home schools. This new-found passion directly led to the creation of several coding and tech clubs across Superior-Greenstone - a new direction for our schools!
This year, Nicole Morden-Cormier, Superintendent of Education at Superior-Greenstone District School Board, asked the Lead Learners, “How is the learning hitting the desks and impacting our students?”. This very simple question resonated with me. The previous year of learning opened up my eyes to the possibilities and the desire to truly empower our students as computational thinkers. Rather than having pockets of computational thinking learning opportunities scattered across our geographically large board, I want to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to learn computational thinking. We have once again partnered with Fair Chance Learning to help build capacity and confidence with coding, but we have changed our learning stance as educators. Rather than trying to become coding experts, we are now truly co-learners with our students.
Students now participate in every coding professional development opportunity being led by Derek Tangredi, Director of Integrated STEAM Education at Fair Chance Learning, and help lead the learning back at their home schools.
A truly remarkable shift has occurred. Not only are educators relinquishing their need to be the “expert”, but they honour student strengths, voice and choice by co-learning right alongside the very people we want to empower! The energy and the excitement in the room during our first hands-on learning was palpable. We had learners from across both panels learning, sharing, and collaborating with one another. The day was such a huge success that I have reconfigured future Technology Champions professional development to continue to support the student-educator co-learning model. We want our students to be the creators of technology not just consumers and by empowering our students we are preparing them to be active participants in their own learning.
When we include our students in the learning journey the learning for all is limitless. I look forward to seeing where our co-learning will take us!
About the Author:
Stacey Wallwin has been an educator with Superior-Greenstone District School Board in various capacities throughout her career. She is currently the Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact (TELTC)and District e-Learning Coordinator (DeLC). She is a passionate reader and lifelong learner who believes that anything is possible when we keep our learners at the forefront of everything we do. She leverages the power of technology to break down the geographical barriers that isolate learners in her board, to connect learners and ideas and celebrate the joy in her schools. She is also a self-professed boat-nerd! You can follow Stacey’s learning on Twitter @WallwinS and her ship watching adventures on Instagram: @swallwin. You can also follow the SGDSB coding journey at #sgdsbcodes.
This post is part of a series dedicated to celebrating computer science education. Watch for a new computer science-focused post every day during Computer Science Education Week to inspire you to try coding and deepen your learning through coding.