Having integrated coding into my math classes, many teachers have asked me how to get started. I am happy to help. In talking to many teachers and parents, it seems there is considerable misunderstanding of how coding really fits the elementary school classroom. Hopefully these points can help us out and generate discussion.
- Coding is only useful for students wanting to become computer programmers.
FALSE: Coding promotes many skills that would prove useful for many students entering a changing job market. Is science only useful for future scientist? Is writing only useful for future writers?
- You need technology to teach coding.
SEMI-TRUE: Technology is definitely needed as students progress, but there are many activities for all ages that do not rely on computers or tablets.
- The teacher has to learn coding in order to teach it.
FALSE: Teachers do not necessarily have to be expert programmers. The resources available today are easy to use. It is helpful and easy for teachers to pick up these skills alongside their class.
- Coding cannot be integrated into the classroom with the many demands of our curriculum.
FALSE: Coding is definitely a discipline that can be studied in isolation. However, it can successfully be integrated into many curriculum areas. The most obvious connection is math. Can art be integrated into other curriculum areas?
- Coding should only be taught in high school since it is too difficult for elementary age students. Maybe younger gifted students can learn it.
FALSE: Coding is not as difficult as it seems. With the global push to promote coding, apps and online software have made it easier for younger students to learn the basics. Some students may not prefer coding, but all students should be exposed to it!