Hour of Code: the Fruit of Opportunity
Maybe this blog is about the importance of coding. Or perhaps it is a story of saying something without realizing its significance. I will assert that exposing students to STEM and coding has become a necessity. In fact, it would be difficult to argue the opposite considering that nearly all jobs in the future will require the thinking it provides. As Fair Chance Learning expresses, every student needs the opportunity to reach their full learning potential. As educators, we need to present options hoping to reach every learner.
In 2013, I decided to attempt Hour of Code with my grade 6 class in Hamilton. Teaching requires risk taking since up to that point, I never taught students how to code. Like today, there were many offerings available for this week. Even at the start of this voyage, I knew that a single hour on the computer provides exposure to the discipline and little else. While reflecting, I decided to experiment a little further to make Hour of Code worthwhile. I thought, “We will continue to code until Christmas!” I have not stopped since.
In deed, coding is an engaging activity and a beautiful application of mathematics. My students were very eager to create applications that reached a goal. Yes, I tried to help by giving them advice, but they politely refused my assistance. Groups of students were competing to finish their programs, accepting my help was not allowed. “I have to get this!” became a common utterance during these sessions. It was engagement that made me feel alone. Not wanting to be bored, I purchased and served fruit to my young group of programmers. “If I can not help,” I figured, “at least I can give them fruit. I will stay busy.”
In 2016, Fair Chance Learning invited me for their ignite talk in Niagara Falls. The prospect of sharing my passion for STEM education made my participation an easy decision. Not exactly knowing what an ignite talk was, I quickly learned that it involves considerable improvisation. I retold the story of coding and food service. “Feed them fruit!” I proclaimed loudly not knowing it would become a statement with deeper meaning.
Truly, teaching is about giving the fruits of our professional know-how and experiences. Learning requires the fruits of our labour so that young minds are nourished. It was at that moment I realized anyone can list reasons to teach code. The question I now ask myself, what are the costs of not serving this fruit? The efforts we make this week will inspire a new generation of thinkers to investigate Computer Science as a career. Give your students the fruit of opportunity leading to a path of discovery. The other lesson: Keep talking. You will stumble on something profound.
About the Author:
Enzo Ciardelli is a grade 7/8 teacher in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. He specializes and advocates for STEM integration into the curriculum. Enzo speaks widely on coding, computer science and robotics.
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.