Jeremy Macdonald--Breaking the Technology Code or: What I’m Doing on My Summer Vacation
The following post comes from Jeremy Macdonald, a 5th Grade & Instructional Technology teacher at Mills Elementary in the Klamath Falls City Schools district in Klamath Falls Oregon.
As I wrap up this school year and look forward to new opportunities next year, I think about our use of technology in education. Is our spending justified? Do we invest in more "stuff" or do we begin focusing more on the "human" capital. Whatever it is that we choose, we need to make clear for ourselves, our students, and our community why we do what we do. But I want to take that a step further.
How many of us understand what is happening when we open up a browser window or when we click on an icon or change the font in a document? How many of us understand the coding or language that is used to run the applications that we use so regularly and often take for granted. There are thousands, even millions, of processes that are all happening at once when we interact with our devices. The nuances of coding are just as intricate and dynamic as a spoken language or mathematics. Are they just as important, though? I would say yes.
One of my goals for next year is to begin introducing our 5th and 6th graders to coding. There is much to learn from its logic. Coding is one big problem that you have to solve. It isn't always "from point A to point B". When an individual is coding, he or she has to look at all the variables and possible outcomes and begin to write code in a manner that leads their end user to the successful completion of a task.
All that said, I can't teach a new language to my students if I, myself, am unfamiliar with it. I do not feel I need to be "fluent" but I should at least become familiar with the more common or "conversational" aspects of code. So to get you and I started this summer, here are some place to explore:
If you're looking for something more interactive, join Codeacademy. Codeacademy is a fun, interactive (and free) way to learn code along with friends. And for those of you who love badges, there are plenty of cool accomplishments to unlock along the way.
Developed at MIT, Scratch is a visual programming language that makes it easy for newbies to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. It's a simple download and you're on your way. There is also a large community that is using Scratch, so there is a lot of projects and forums to help guide you along the way.
I'm probably going to start with Codeacademy this summer. I'd love to see you their and learn along with you. Share your code and what you've made along the way. I'd love to see it!
Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald's blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here. Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at http://www.mrmacnology.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology.