10 Dec Teachers’ coding class more than just fun and games
More than 100 teachers from across the province were invited to Tuesday’s training session on computer coding and computational thinking at the downtown Vancouver offices of Microsoft. The session was designed to train teachers to train other teachers how to code, which will be a mandatory subject for students in grades 6 to 9 by 2018.NICK PROCAYLO / Vancouver Sun
B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier keep his eyes on the balls as he takes part in a training session for selected teachers from across the province at Microsoft’s downtown Vancouver offices on Tuesday. Bernier said the session showed that computational thinking can be learned in more ways than just sitting in front of a computer.NICK PROCAYLO / Vancouver Sun
Dozens of teachers got schooled in computer coding and computational thinking at Microsoft’s downtown offices on Tuesday.
The training sessions are funded by the Ministry of Education and designed to train teachers to train other teachers how to code, which will be a mandatory subject for students in grades 6 to 9 by 2018.
Education Minister Mike Bernier said he hears from many technology companies that they want to set up offices in B.C., but that they are concerned that not enough people are trained in technology.
“It’s really important that our kids are ready and have that broad spectrum of knowledge,” Bernier said during the training session.
Bernier and the teachers took part in an interactive game in which teams had to create a simple algorithm to guide another person, who acted like a robot. In Bernier’s case, he was guided several feet and around a corner to sit in a chair. Teachers did a similar activity where one person was blindfolded and the others created instructions to help them find a ping-pong ball. One teacher described it as being like a fancy game of Simon Says, but with a purpose.
New Westminster teacher Colleen Carrington said the activity was both fun and engaging.
“It makes the students stop and think and chunk the information into small commands, so when they predict how many commands it will take to get from point A to point B, it’s engaging their brains beforehand,” said Carrington, who is a middle school computer teacher. “Then when they start to give the commands, they realize that every single movement has to be programmed. But because we’ve done the interactive, multi-sensory activity first, translating that into the abstract code becomes a lot easier.”
Bernier said the activity shows that computational thinking can be learned in more ways than just sitting in front of a computer.
Two teachers from each of the province’s 60 school districts were invited to take part in the training sessions, which are designed so that those teachers can go back and teach other teachers in their districts how to teach kids to code.
Jeremy Shaki, the co-founder of Lighthouse Labs, which, along with Kids Code Jeunesse, is leading the two-day training session, called it “amazing” that B.C. has added coding to the school curriculum.
“This isn’t happening in a lot of places in the world yet, but a lot of places are contemplating it,” Shaki said.
Coding is a hands-on way of teaching students how to analyze a problem, determine the steps to fix that problem and then create directions so a machine can carry out those steps.