Coding Creates Student Success Through the Process of Failure
By Eric Rush, Alternate 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year
3rd Grade Teacher at Ticasuk Brown Elementary School, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District
A lesson/unit that I’m proud of sharing with my students is the language of coding. Coding/programming is a subject that allows adaptability and can easily be integrated for teachers to use in any subject matter. It’s exciting to guide students in understanding that the technology (games, phones, tv, tablets, etc.) we use and enjoy would not be possible without coding and programming.
Students are instantly engaged in this activity because it provides opportunities for creativity and exploration. Coding is not only useful for those who are interested in a career of computers, it will also help them prepare for a number of other opportunities. The military, healthcare, manufacturing and construction fields, are seeing a rise in the need for applicants with experience in coding and programming.
Last summer, a colleague and I were able to take our summer school students on a field trip to a local welding shop to observe, control, and program a robotic welding arm. It was an amazing sight! Students understood the functions of the machine from what they’ve learned in the classroom with coding sites like “code.org”.
Students controlling and programming a robotic welding arm
Students can also develop reading and writing skills by organizing algorithms into precise and accurate sequences. They can also improve their math reasoning and problem-solving skills through the use of looping, repeating, and directional algorithms. Students can fail and restart many times with coding (this builds critical thinking skills), which is a realistic part of the learning process!
Coding with students creates success through the process of failure (Growth Mindset), trying to solve/fix a problem over and over again in various ways, which I can use as an opportunity to build trust with my students. This trust transfers to other vital subject areas such as reading and math.
In my experience, students who were reluctant learners, at the beginning of the year, become more confident in their abilities to read and/or do math after being introduced to coding/programming activities. Having students feeling and being successful will allow me to teach and support my students in their educational journey. Giving my students a chance to learn coding plants the seed of exploration and self-confidence.
Resource Link: Code.org for beginning and advanced coding.
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