Welcome to Integrating Play, a portal which provides a peek into my mind and my work.
I wanted to share the article that I wrote on Oberoi International School’s celebration of Computer Science Week. Expect to find periodic updates here while I spend the next few weeks updating, designing, and creating content for the website.
A little over a month ago, from December 8th to the 14th, the international community celebrated computer science education week. All over the world, people of every walk of life were becoming involved in what has been recognized as the largest educational event in history. Regardless of age, gender, nationality, or religion – over 75 million people in more than 180 countries set aside an hour of their time to learn the basics of programming. They spent an hour learning to code and writing their own program; #HourOfCode became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and the tech integration team at the school wanted to ensure that our students got their chance to code too.
I’m sure that some of you might be asking yourselves, “Why does programming matter?”. The bottom line is that as educators, we are tasked with preparing the children of today for a future that doesn’t exist yet. We must teach them the skills and provide them with the tools that will allow them to be successful. Too often, teachers teach the way they themselves were taught, not realizing that in order to be successful, educators have to remain relevant. In the words of the venerable Bill Gates of Microsoft, “Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.” In the past, programming was inaccessible, unattractive, and obfuscated; now, it has become something that is open to everyone and can provide them with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century. Sadly, nine out of ten schools don’t teach programming to students. In fact, up until this year, Oberoi International School would have counted itself as one of those nine.
So, how did our school become involved? Our goal was to introduce as many teachers and students to the basics of programming; this goal manifested itself in multiple ways. For teachers, we provided an after school professional development session, where they were given an hour, an iPad, and the app Tynker to explore on their own. As a student, you had the opportunity to complete an hour of code with your peers if your homeroom teacher booked a lesson with a member of the tech integration team; alternatively, every day last week students of a specific grade level would be offered the chance to spend half of their lunch in the IT lab, coding.
With the sheer number of iPads we have access to in the Primary (over 220), it made sense to rely heavily on an appropriate app to ensure that as many students as possible gave coding a shot. So, knowing what resources we had available and the general level of interest exhibited by staff, we created a goal for ourselves. We tried to choose a number that was appropriate and reasonable while still being ambitious. We ended up deciding upon two-hundred and fifty; our goal was to have students in the primary spend two-hundred and fifty hours coding, over the course of five days.
By the end of day three, we’d already surpassed our goal; by Friday, we’d accumulated over 350. Just to put that number into perspective – it’s like watching the movie Frozen two-hundred and two times in five days.
Now, I’m sure you must be thinking, “What’s next?”. The week is over, the hours have been logged, the students have been exposed to something that they probably had never seen before; how can we continue to build on this foundation of interest? For now, take four minutes of your time and watch the movie that recaps the events of the week. Maybe it will inspire you to try programming yourself, or at the very least it will convince you that any time your child spends coding is time well spent.