Two of the biggest questions that need to be asked about coding are when and who. When do we teach it? Who is responsible?
Anytime we learn something new we must be taught explicitly how to do that said thing. We must also be given time to apply that skill. I believe this also applies to coding. We need time for kids to learn it as a stand alone subject. This can be done in after school coding clubs, lunch clubs, specialist classes or in the classroom. At my school three teachers (including myself) and the Elementary Tech Coordinator started our own Elementary Coding club and I know of other schools who have done similarly. It has been a fantastic place to introduce kids to coding concepts and let them begin to create with their knowledge.
However, I believe that we can't stop there. Coding must be integrated into the curriculum. To teach it only outside of the classroom is similar to teaching someone how to write an essay but never giving them an opportunity to write an essay about something they are learning in school. Knowledge must be relevant to students in order for it to be retained. Our job as classroom teachers then is to figure out how it can be integrated into our classrooms. We need to stop thinking of coding as something that just the "tech" people teach. It is something we can teach. It is something we can use as a powerful tool to enhance student learning.
The more I learn about coding the more opportunities I find for incorporating it into my class. Here is a link to a document which lists various ways that coding can be brought into a classroom. Anyone can edit the document so please add any lessons or ideas that you can think of. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. I hope that as we all begin to learn from each other, coding can become something that is not just an extra subject to teach, it can become embedded into our teaching practice.
Mindy Slaughter is a classroom teacher at UNIS Hanoi. She started learning to code when some of her students wanted to study it for the PYP Exhibition. She has since help start the Elementary Coding Club and is a founding member of the Global Codeathon. She believes coding opens the doors for student creativity and is working to integrate it into the curriculum.