Mayville Middle School celebrated National Digital Learning Day in February with a perfect activity: an hour of coding for students through grade 6. Three instructors, led by K-12 Technology Integrator Melissa Schneider, taught the sessions throughout the day in the school’s computer lab. The lab’s 32 desktops got a workout, and the students got a good view of what it takes to produce something using terms, symbols and directions. Their products were to be both interactive and Web-based, whether they were the solution to a problem, a component of a game, a model or a drawing.
Many of the students had never coded before. Schneider herself prepped for the coding classes by watching Webinars and planning multi-level instruction to provide support for students at all levels of technology. But even those children who were new to the use of school computers seemed to have a solid understanding for how they were connected. “A lot of this, the kids teach us, because they are 21st century learners, digital citizens”, said Schneider. “In the coding hour, some kids were timid, so we helped them understand that this is a learning environment. We opened the door for them to ask questions.” Schneider explained that instruction was provided in steps. She witnessed students showing an understanding of each other’s progress. Those who “zipped” through some of the first steps of coding provided help and support to others still exploring the beginning stages.
Schneider’s hope is that when students leave the classrooms at the end of the day, they continue to create and explore on their home systems. She notes that computer science is increasing in popularity, and is a good basis for STEM education, which is being embraced by the Mayville School District. STEM is the integrated instruction of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Coding Day was a step forward into the future for Mayville Middle School students.