As part of Computer Science Education Week's worldwide Hour of Code, French American International School 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders took to their iPads and laptops this month for an introduction to the basics of computer programming. Now in its fourth year, French American's participation in this global educational event provides our younger children the opportunity to learn about coding and technology.
Under the guidance of Lower School Technology Coordinator Philippe Charpantier, students in 1st-3rd grades attended an hour-long workshop in the Tinker Space learning the basics of a programming app called Kodable, which employs visualization as a key learning tool. Employing building blocks (where each block contains a line of pre-written code), the children learned how to sequence each block into a "dialogue" that produces a desired goal, such as turning an image upside down and backward, or changing the course of a path across the screen. Although in later years they will learn how to author the underlying code itself, the Kodable exercises teach them to think spatially in order to more effectively conceptualize how the individual components in a program work together. Philippe noted, "Similar to how we say learn to read and read to learn, we believe we are learning to code and coding to learn. Our students are acquiring new knowledge outside the box; they are learning to try, to fix, to debug, to collaborate and create."
Later, computer programming is integrated into the curriculum for students in grades 4 and 5, who have exposure to programming-integrated activities such as robotics with Probots and Sphero.