In the education world, a new school year signals new beginnings for students and teachers as well as for those working behind the scenes. We’re looking forward to exciting advances in educational technology (edtech) that will be rolling out soon to classrooms around the world as we gear up for the 2018–2019 school year. New edtech pieces inevitable come with their own learning curve. How can educators prepare to use these new tools in the midst of meeting new students and planning lessons? A little prior preparation can ease the transition.
As maker activities frequently involve computational thinking, programming, and robotics, the “maker movement” has influenced more students to learn coding. As a result, more of these educational technology tools are becoming available for even the youngest students. Several companies revealed new programs for teaching coding and programming robots at ISTE 2018, such as Jett from Robokind and CoderZ from Intelitek.
For educators who are unfamiliar with the technology themselves, introducing coding and programming into the classroom can be a difficult jump. Incorporate robotics and coding into the classroom with the following ideas:
Teach coding progressively: Treat coding as you would any other language—introduce it by teaching the basics of letters and words first and adding more complex concepts in later grades. Teach the basics of block coding initially and then incorporate more sophisticated tasks. Work piece by piece and build on prior knowledge to keep students (and educators) from becoming overwhelmed.
Tie in computational thinking beyond the classroom: Instead of limiting student engagement in programming to a STEM workshop or weekly time in a resource lab, find ways to work the technology into all aspects of the curriculum like coding robots to spell out English vocabulary words or to create block prints in art class.
Use student tech ambassadors: Our students are digital natives, even though many educators experienced the technology revolution as adults. Encouraging students who already have an interest in robotics and coding to share what they know about this technology might just get their peers excited about the world of programming—and their teachers, too!