Finley-Oates Elementary Students Learn Computer Coding Skills
Third grade students are hard at work on their coding course.
The classroom is almost silent even though it is filled with 6- to 9-year-old students. They sit in groups at tables, busily working on their iPads. Occasionally, students raise their hands and wait until the teacher comes. Sometimes, they need help; sometimes they want to celebrate the completion of an assignment. These students are not watching YouTube or playing games. These students are learning to write computer code.
When Finley-Oates instructor Linda Nelson entered her iPad lab at the beginning of the year, she had no idea that she would be writing computer code by winter break. Nelson teaches a “special” at Finley-Oates Elementary, a class that students rotate through once per week. Previously, Nelson had worked with an online reading program, but, due to changes in curriculum, that program was dropped, and the need for a replacement arose. After carefully considering various options, campus instructional leaders decided that a class on computer coding offered everything they were looking for: it was engaging, it taught useful skills, and it could be implemented quickly with no additional equipment.
Nelson was initially skeptical. “I was scared,” she says. “I wasn’t sure that I could do it.”
With support from her campus’ instructional team, however, Nelson and the students were soon whizzing through lessons. The coding program integrates computer skills, logical thinking, and problem-solving. Students are placed on a pathway that presents them with increasingly difficult puzzles that they must solve. To do this, they assemble blocks of code, or instructions, that tell their character what to do. Often, their first attempt is not successful, and students have to try again. In this way, students also learn to handle failure.
“I like the coding course because it teaches students how to problem-solve,” says Charlsie Vaught, instructional support at Finley-Oates. “They also begin to understand how to learn from their mistakes. If they get something wrong the first time, they have the opportunity to troubleshoot and fix it.”
Ultimately, the instructional team at Finley-Oates hopes that students will learn to transfer the skills they learn in coding to other classes. “It teaches them perseverance,” says Stephanie Avery, who also works with instructional support at the school. “Hopefully, students will apply this to their other classes and will learn to try to find the answer themselves instead of automatically giving up and raising their hands.”
Students seem to agree. “You get to figure out stuff and see the characters go,” says Kourtnee, a third-grader. “It was really fun when I started to get into the games and stuff.”
Luis, another third-grader, says that he enjoys the different levels. “Sometimes they are pretty challenging!”
How is Nelson feeling after a semester of teaching coding to elementary students? “I feel confident now,” she says. “It is challenging, but the kids seem to love it.”
A student named Trystan sums it up best. “I like it when . . . I solve the puzzle. It makes me feel proud of myself!”
Finley-Oates Wins 2nd Grade UIL District Academic Championship!
Second graders at Finley-Oates Elementary recently brought home the 1st Place Overall Academic Championship at the District UIL Meet held on January 18 at Leonard ISD! Over twenty second and third graders competed in events such as Chess, Music Memory, Story Telling, Creative Writing, and Spelling. In addition to the Academic Championship, several students and teams from Finley-Oates placed in academic contests. Bonham students represented their school well, both in sportsmanship and in citizenship. Congratulations to all of our coaches and students on an awesome job!
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