Brining coding into the classroom: EU Code Week Deep Dive online course
Through coding and computational thinking, students collaborate with each other and develop a variety of skills. Teachers from all kinds of subject, with no previous experience in coding, can bring innovation into their classroom through coding. During a 5-week course, primary and secondary school teachers from various countries learned about programming and robotics in school. To share experiences and best practices, the course coordinators also organised two online events. In case you missed them, the recordings are available online on the EU Code Week YouTube channel.
The Power of Coding
On the 1 October 2020, the webinar “The power of coding” welcomed teachers from all over Europe to learn more about bringing programming, coding and computational thinking to the classroom. It started off with an introduction by Naír Carrera, Education Manager at European Schoolnet, and Eugenia Casariego Artola introducing three speakers who shared their experiences about teaching coding to kids.
The fist speaker Francisco Javier Masero, a physical education teacher from Spain, explained how coding can be combined with passions and different school subjects. His interest in coding made him wonder: How can I combine coding with sports classes? He found several parallels between robotics and team sports, such as problem-solving from multiple perspectives and a solution-oriented attitude. Francisco Javier Masero also found a way to teach his students karate kata by programming and Scratch. He concludes his talk by explaining that coding and sports are an excellent way to carry out integrated activities for the following reasons:
- It allows developing cognitive and physical activities
- It helps to better sequence movements
- It shows a different vision on how to teach physical education and technology through blended learning
Next up was Eleni Kokkinou, an ICT teacher from Greece who never thought she would enjoy coding as much as she does today. Only during her PhD, she fell in love with coding, which led her to teach algorithm development and computational thinking. She explained the different ways of enhancing coding at different school levels. While students at lower secondary school focus more and environmental programs and robotics, students at upper secondary school have much more specific objectives. Some of these include:
- Teaching algorithm development in class, then at the lab
- Using HTML to create a website
- Organising activities for the European Code week
Eleni Kokkinou has made it her mission to empower more students to study computer sciences, especially girls, to get more people to understand the importance and benefits of coding and inspire students.
Lastly, Miriam Tocino from Spain talked about how coding can be taught in multiple ways to kids, sharing some of her own best practices. She posed the question: How can we present computers as a friend, full of possibilities and challenges? What helped Miriam Tocino to pass on her knowledge about coding and computational thinking was sharing her own story with the students. She started writing books for kids about coding, making the numbers come alive. The stories can help parents or teachers to spark curiosity for coding amongst young children.
Miriam Tocino explains that she uses illustrations and storytelling to teach kids about computers because these were the things she loved the most when she was little. She strongly believes that the vehicle of communication becomes just as important, as the topic you are trying to convey when you are teaching kids. The vehicle chosen becomes an opportunity for connection.
During the 2nd event, a TeachMeet on 15 October 2020, further best practices for teachers and parents were discussed. After a short recap of the different events that have taken place for the code week, the word is given to nine teachers who share their personal experiences on leading code week and how they integrate coding in their classes.
Topics such as unplugged coding activities for preschool education, skill development through coding and creating a good atmosphere in the classroom to encourage collaboration and exchange.
Annie Bergh from Sweden explained that there are many skills students develop while learning how to code, such as getting a deeper understanding. In her classroom, she often comes up with fun games such as “code your friend” or “code your teacher” to motivate her students and spark interest. Furthermore, she works together with other teachers to continuously exchange experiences and knowledge.
Emma Abbate, a geography teacher from Italy, shared an example of teaching sustainability and nature-based solutions. Her class specifically focused on working on natural basic solutions for increasing the sustainability of the use of matter and energy.
Maja Macinko, a technology teacher at an elementary school in Croatia, developed a workshop called encoding Mars. It is set up for kids aged 8-9 years old and combines coding with the world space week. The coding was fairly simple using Scratch and only contained a few lines of code.
Many more best practices and ideas were shared by teachers all over Europe. Thanks to all participants for their active involvement in EU Code Week!