Northeast parents join students to sample computer coding skills
Cortez Bryant, music teacher at Northeast Elementary School, lends a hand as a coding coach to help parents and their students solve a series of coding puzzles during the school’s Family Code Night. Photo by Patrick Holmes / LCPS
The students and parents came in, the iPads came out and Northeast Elementary School took a peek inside digital applications during its first-ever Family Code Night.
“This is an initiative we started as a way to get children started with computer programming,” said Konya Houston, the school’s digital learning specialist and organizer of the Wednesday night event.
Using educational resources available through code.org and deploying Northeast faculty members as coding coaches to work with the families, Houston presented a series of coding puzzles for the fledging computer programmers to solve, stopping periodically to give them tips.
LCPS has put a strong emphasis on coding since winning one of the first grants awarded by the state to finance development of a computer programming and app development curriculum. That money has gone into the creation of classes that premiered this school year in middle and high school and specific instruction for elementary schools is expected to begin in 2019-2020.
Elementary schools in the district aren’t waiting, though. Special events like the international Hour of Code and Family Code Night are priming young students for more advanced instruction in a discipline that could lead some into a lucrative career or, even if computer programming isn’t the field they’ll pursue, teach them the value of logical thinking, perseverance, teamwork and learning from mistakes.
“We participated in Hour of Code in December and in one of our resource classes, our STEAM class, they are also coding,” Houston said.
When parents and their children came into the school’s media center for Family Code Night, they checked out an iPad and settled around tables where coding coaches were waiting to assist. Typically, the parents watched while the students manipulated the iPads.
“I am amazed every single day with the things our students are able to do with their devices, even without instruction,” Houston said.
As a bonus for attending, families entered a raffle for a Sphero, a small, programmable robot.
“This is a way to introduce coding to families but it’s also a great way to get families in to see what we’re doing at Northeast,” Houston said.