Teaching technology is a wonderful and sometimes tricky endeavor. There is so much information and it’s always changing. While everything about my favorite subject is fun, in my 20-plus years of teaching computer science in a K-8 school, the one thing that has been the most exciting for me is Coding. Coding has opened the door to a variety of new activities for students, including robotics, 3D printing, and much more! And, there are so many fascinating career paths, especially ones that students are fired up about, that stem from this one subject. So, of course I'm always looking for engaging ways to share this topic with students and the careers that fall under it. And what better time to start than Computer Education Week!
How to get middle schoolers excited about coding.
Middle school students, as most teachers know, require a bit more finesse to keep their attention. Traditionally, I roll out Coding in December. I have been doing this for nearly 10 years and wanted to bring a spark to the curriculum for my older students. My thoughts centered on real-world careers that might be interesting for them as they prepare for high school.
Discovery Education has the perfect combination of tools and resources to help me deliver my ideas. For a particular project, I used the Studio tool to put together a series of topics related to computing and coding, while dedicating a second page to careers. I also used short videos—just enough to get students’ attention and draw them in—along with images and articles. Discovery Education offers a lot of learning resources to choose from in creating the Studio Board, and the variety of resources covers a host of interests.
I also used the SOS Activity 25 Things You Didn’t Know as a reflection piece. Students watched the Objective video first and then were given a week to explore the Board and its varied topics. As a wrap up they were tasked with creatively summarizing 25 things they learned from the Board.
Setting the stage for student agency.
The best part of the project was the engagement and discovery (pun intended) of the students. My favorite phrase became, “I didn’t know that!” At some point in every class, I was asked, “Did you know you need coding for this cool job?” to which I responded, “No, tell me.” I encouraged students to follow up on anything that really interested them in a personal project. The takeaway for my students was a broader sense of careers they never knew existed. Overall, it was a successful lesson for both me and my students.
Creating lessons for such a diverse curriculum is an exciting part of my teaching. I am passionate about my subject area and want others to see its value as well. Discovery Education has given me the tools to do just that—share with students and other teachers.
December is upon us again and I am excited to start a month (or more) of Coding!
About the Author
Suzanne Casey is a Technology teacher, Coordinator, and Coach at a PreK-8 private school in Moorestown, New Jersey. She’s been teaching for 21 years and was previously a New Jersey Teacher of the Year. Suzanne has been a member of the Discovery Educator Network since it started and loves to share its benefits in and out of the classroom!