Coding in 2004 – Looking back to move forward…

Sometimes there are moments that bring you back in time to reflect on your teaching practice, and a visit to YRDSBs Quest Conference this week certainly did that for me.  Brian Aspinall @mraspinall was mentioning his early efforts in coding with kids in a club that he started while he was a University student in 2005.

During the 2004-2005 school year (it actually may have been after the May ECOO 2003, although my memory escapes me), I began using MicroWorlds Jr Logo with my Grade 2 students as a result of being introduced to it by people who had been on board with programming with children since at least the 70’s.  Whoa! I had some background to catch up on and began to learn and read about the giants behind this educational reform.

Beginning my Master’s degree at OISE in 2003 led me to inspiring people like Clare Brett, Jim Hewitt, Earl Woodruff, the work of Seymour Papert and the notion of constructionism.  Being an ECOO member and attending the 2003 annual conference led me to meet inspiring people like @peterskillen who got me started with MicroWorlds Jr, @garystager, Karen Beutler @kbbeutler, @dougpete, @andyforgrave and Mitch Resnick, all of whom had been programming with kids for ages! I was WAY behind and knew it!  My first workshop for teachers in 2005 was my effort to share what I was learning from this amazing community of educators who had sparked my passion and who were teaching me about new ways of teaching that suited my desired classroom culture: inquiry and student-driven project based learning. Coding became another way to engage students in the authentic application of math skills already at play in my classroom: art, music, building things and cooking, to name a few.

There was no problem connecting coding with my curriculum, as you’ll see in the slides below. Computational thinking was not a term I was using back then, but it’s interesting to look back and see connections to cross-curricular authentic applications of Math, as well as references to teacher-student co-learning and what we would now call global competencies or 21st century skills, especially in the areas of problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, inquiry and learning to learn.

My biggest advice to teachers, in this time where many voices are telling us that we must have coding put into the elementary curriculum, would be to take the freedom you are given with our Ontario curriculum and innovate your own examples to go along with overall expectations!  I’m so glad that I didn’t wait and many other teachers like the ones at Quest and ECOO (BIT) are not waiting either.  Don’t wait….Innovate!

 

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New Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Many school administrators are aware that some parents are feeScreen Shot 2015-09-20 at 3.35.47 PMling the tension of change in Ontario’s Health and Physical Education (HPE) Revision for 2015. Concern that kids need more current information (the last curriculum was released 17 years ago), and a more comprehensive understanding of all the aspects of healthy living, has led to this revision. Ontario curriculum is written by experts in education, content, and policy, as well as in consultation with parents across the province. Many people are involved in trying to dispel the myths about the new curriculum that began to surface last spring, in many cases anonymously, and it’s my guess is that once folks actually dig in and read the curriculum, as some journalists have begun to do, fears quickly subside.

The Health and Physical Education curriculum has four main sections for each grade:

  • Living Skills: understanding themselves, communicating and interacting positively with others and learning to think critically and solve problems
  • Active Living: active participation, physical fitness and safety
  • Movement Competence: skills for moving properly and with confidence
  • Healthy Living: learning about health, making healthy choices, and understanding the connections to everyday life

A quick google search ‘myths about sex ed curriculum’ will bring up lots of good information to dispel the myths about Ontario’s revised HPE Curriculum, but my hope would be that parents actually read the curriculum, in order to make their own decisions.  Here is a gathering of some helpful resources that school administrators or school council chairs might want to share with concerned parents who are wanting more information:

Overview of the curriculum revisions, including the sexual health component.

HPE_flyer_AODA – Ontario Ministry of Education – The ministry has produced a suite of materials for parents in several languages to build understanding about what students will learn. There are also details about how to order parent materials that Principals and Vice-Principals can make available to parents.

CBC Radio Interview with Meg Hickling – Veteran educator about body science and sexual health

Grade by Grade Guide to the Ontario HPE Curriculum (Sexual health portions) written for Muslim parents and created by Anela Jadunandan – hear her CBC Radio interview  on Metro Morning.

CBC – Parents speaking up in support of the Ontario HPE Curriculum

Sexual health experts from BC in support of Ontario’s new curriculum