by Julie Hembree Expert Educator Columnist, USA I am a reader, a writer and an elementary school librarian. What I am not is a computer programmer or coder, or so I thought until recently. This fall when the wave of publicity increased about the Hour of Code, and National Computer Science week, I dismissed it. I simply didn’t think coding was anything I needed to teach during my library lessons, especially in elementary school. I have so much to teach in my weekly lessons already, why should I add more to my plate? What on earth could coding have to do with literacy? It turns out, the answer is a lot. I visited the Hour of Code resource page and watched videos that stressed coding should be as valued as reading, writing and math. “Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer…” they said. Intrigued I tried out one of the tutorials meant for the kindergarten through second grade students, knowing with my coding skill set, this was the perfect place for …
by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Excitedly showcasing an Hour of Code activity for my grade level teachers, I was speeding through how one could easily project the website onto the classroom screen and model for students how to snap blocks of code in place, programming the Angry Bird’s journey through the maze to capture the Green Pig. When I looked up from my screen, expecting to see looks of amazement on their faces, I saw one of my colleague’s eyes glazing over. She was falling behind and beginning to tune out. “How do you know it has to go forward?” she asked. “And what does a naughty pig have to do with coding?”
by Cathy Cavanaugh Director of Teaching and Learning, Microsoft in Education What is a human language? As a symbol system for encoding and communicating ideas, our languages are varied and dynamic, each reflective of its own cultures and ways of knowing. Thus, each language has intrinsic value to influence thought and interaction. Additionally, each language has practical value in the 21st century. Recognizing the many benefits of learning multiple languages, schools around the world require native language fluency and a minimum of competence in a second language. Thus, world language standards have been developed by professional organizations to guide effective teaching and learning (http://www.actfl.org/publications/all/world-readiness-standards-learning-languages). The choice of languages offered in a school depend on a matrix of factors including locally and regionally spoken languages, availability of teachers and curriculum, and interest among students. Increasingly, world languages and other subjects learned in school are associated with preparing students for college, career, and community.
by Ovi Barcelo Expert Educator Columnist, Spain One of the best things I have gotten from apps is the chance to meet some of their developers. Apps now are everywhere, even in the classroom, and we can say so because this new ecosystem has socialized the development of software. Now, (almost) everybody can be an app developer and even achieve great success in the digital world. The coding part is not very difficult and the tools provided by the big companies are user-friendly, in most cases. On this point, I want to highlight Microsoft’s Project Siena (pictured above). This is remarkable in that it is an app to create apps. This simple blank canvas is the typical drag-and-drop environment. With everyday updates, Project Siena allows all kind of users to develop their own apps.