Last week, tens of millions of students from almost 200 countries came together around one singular idea: To introduce the notion of computer science to our next generation of makers. This shared vision calls for schools to highlight its applicability, not simply in superficial terms of composing lines of code, but its propensity to foster problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity – cornerstones of innovation. Children the world over collaborated, critically thought, created…and, most importantly, had fun.
A Progressive Hour
For me, though, the Hour of Code is representative of a larger, more critical paradigm shift in education in the United States, one that is occurring simultaneously with the movement to incorporate Genius Hour (or 20% Time) as part of instructional programs across the country. Both started from the ground up, with progressive teachers testing the waters, tasting success, and watching kids flourish – the ultimate goal of what we do.
Learning is asynchronous, messy, and not confined to a 42 minute period. It doesn’t stem from a canned textbook series or worksheet. It is a product of students seeing a greater purpose and context that capitalizes on their innate curiosity and desire for autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And given the magnitude of this year’s Hour of Code event – not only in terms of numbers, but also the visible support of influential names from all walks of life – I believe we are standing on the precipice of truly meaningful change. One that gives me hope for tomorrow.
Schools are antiquated. Their processes, protocols, methods of delivery, etc… were built for a time that has long since passed. As Lee Crocket states in his work Literacy is NOT Enough, “The factory is gone, and the marketplace has changed.” What this year’s Hour of Code symbolized for me is opportunity: An opportunity to demonstrate the power of connections; the power of real-world applications; the power of engagement; the power of learning without the textbook; and the power of our collective voice as educators.
Our schools took a giant step forward this week. It is my sincere hope that this is simply the beginning. The start of a commitment on the part of all of us to shy away from 20th Century philosophies, pedagogies, and hurdles and embrace this opportunity for authenticity on behalf of our most important natural resource: Our children.
Resources for The Rest of The Year
The following links are wonderful resources for educators to continue to infuse computer science in their classroom beyond the Hour of Code!
TEDxMB – Inspirational TEDx Talk from Thomas Suarez, a 6th grade student from California, about the importance of schools empowering and encouraging students to create.
Remind: Teachers can foster a home/school connection by using Remind to share resources, ideas, and photos to encourage parents to support their child’s investigation of computer science.
Computer Science Education Week: has compiled a wonderful listing of 3rd party resources for educators to leverage in ordeto further their students’ learning!
Code.org: Offers several tutorials that provide students opportunities to extend their immersion beyond the Hour of Code!
Codecademy: is a free platform that offers interactive classes in various coding languages.
Alice: An innovative 3D environment from Carnegie Mellon University that guides programmers through the creation of animation to tell a story, play a game, or share a video on the web.