Jefferson Middle School fifth graders in Library Media Specialist Julie Livengood’s Accel class are learning to become computer coders through a cool, on-line course called Code Studio. Originally, Mrs. Livengood’s classes participated in a one-day event of coding called the Hour of Code; a global movement established to encourage students to learn about computer science and held each year in December. Students loved it so much that Mrs. Livengood decided to use the website’s curriculum, which has allowed students to delve deeper into computer coding.
“My Accel class is an enrichment class for those students who need a greater challenge and I thought this would be a fun way to incorporate computer science,” said Mrs. Livengood. “The curriculum presents students with scaffolded, online activities which must be solved through algorithmic thinking. The critical thinking, logic, persistence and creativity necessary to complete each activity helps students excel at problem-solving in all subject areas. I’ve also deliberately created a classroom environment, which mimics the real-world workplace; students are encouraged to collaborate when they get stuck on an activity. Although it gets a little loud in here sometimes when they’re working together, it’s great to see them so excited when they figure it out!”
Students work on four different courses within Code Studio that get progressively more difficult, but by the shouts of encouragement heard in the classroom, students are really enjoying the class.
“I really love doing the computer coding. I have never done anything like this before,” said Jefferson Middle School fifth grader, Landen Piazza. “I’m using geometry a lot when I’m trying to figure out the code. By knowing about angles, it helps me figure out which way my action figure will turn. Coding is also helping me in math; I’m getting better at geometry because it’s a fun way to use angles, and what I’m learning is in a real-life way. I think learning how to write computer programs is a good thing to do because it might be something I might like to do, or another kid might like to do, for a job when they get older, like coding video games.”
Along with computer coding, Mrs. Livengood’s students will also get the opportunity to use the latest technology to create interactive video book-talks. Students will read a book, write a summary, and then develop videos with their own voice-overs in the app, Tellagami. These videos will then become the interactive piece in Aurasma — an app, which uses augmented reality to turn everyday objects, images, and places into new, interactive opportunities through striking graphics, animation, video, audio, and 3D content. Any student with an iPad can then focus it on the book cover and watch the video come to life, hopefully enticing them to read it.