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Classroom Experiences: One Teacher’s Perspective

June 25, 2020 By Canada Learning Code

Every year, our Code Mobiles drive across Canada, delivering experiences to learners at schools, community events, and fairs. We met with Sandra, a teacher at St. John Catholic High School in Perth, Ontario, to talk about her experience bringing Canada Learning Code to her school.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I taught in Northern Ontario for a few years before moving to Perth. I’ve been with the Catholic District School Board now for about 30 years. Currently, I am a grade 7 core teacher at the high school, and I teach all subjects except for French.

How did you hear about Canada Learning Code?

I heard about CLC through an Eventbrite posting for a teacher conference. I ended up attending two CLC teacher conferences, one in Ottawa and one in Toronto. I learned how to do HTML and about micro:bits. But more importantly, I found out about all the CLC resources for teachers. I also had the chance to network with teachers and administrators from my own board as well as many others. CLC’s teacher conferences truly help support teachers by giving them the background, confidence, and community support needed to move forward and provide computer science experiences for our students.

What drew you to Canada Learning Code school workshops?

Students in Perth often don’t have the same opportunities as students from larger centres. Technology is one way to bridge that gap, but the students need to know it’s there and how to use it. Unfortunately, tech programs that urban kids have access to aren’t as readily available in rural settings.

Currently, we don’t have any computer science courses at the school. We have a course called Com Tech, which teaches some programs, like desktop publishing, but nothing on computer science or robotics. As teachers, we can look up tutorials online to run them with the students ourselves, but having CLC come to the school just creates so much more excitement! 

Teaching students about computer science and giving them the chance to learn about coding opens up a whole new world of opportunities for them. And it’s more than just learning to code. These experiences also help build the skills that come with coding, like problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and resiliency. By bringing these opportunities into our rural school, we give every student the chance to learn and excel. So that’s what drew me to Canada Learning Code and why CLC is so important.

Tell us more about your experience.

We’ve had the Code Mobile visit our school at least three times now. The first year they came, we had a tech club with a small group of students. But after the CLC program, the enthusiasm suddenly spread and everyone wanted to be part of the club! The experience really empowered the students. They built leadership skills and helped them feel like coding is something they can do. One unexpected outcome was that they really empowered us teachers. Being part of the workshop made us feel like we could code too!

The students get so much joy from the workshops, and the workshops show them that computer science and coding can be fun. They also help the students realize how coding can be used for so many different things. They learn how to collaborate, build their problem-solving skills, and work on their communication, too, all while creating amazing things. Afterwards, the students start to think of themselves as computer scientists. Having the kids see themselves in these roles is ultimately what we want to achieve by exposing them to the workshops.  

After the workshops, teachers are also able to access CLC’s online lessons to help further the learning. And there are other opportunities for students, too. For example, two of our students applied to be CLC Teen Ambassadors! One was accepted and the other one is shadowing. Together, they now run monthly computer programs for students in our school, as well as those in a neighbouring school.

What would you want other teachers to know about Canada Learning Code?

Canada Learning Code wants to make technology education accessible for all students across Canada. Without Canada Learning Code and the amazing community of risk-takers it supports, I wouldn’t have known how to do so much or have the resources to do what I’m doing.

Our third annual teacher conference, TeacherCon, is happening August (English) and September (French)! This free multi-day virtual conference will show educators how to teach and adapt computer science into their curriculum using the new K-12 Computer Science Education Framework (launching at the end of July!). Educators will walk away with lesson plans, guidelines and fun ways to introduce coding into their classroom.  For more information and to register, visit teachercon.ca!

Technology education is made accessible to our learners across the country thanks to the generous contributions by our amazing partners like the Government of Canada and Amazon. They help to fund our mighty fleet of Code Mobiles, bringing coding education from coast-to-coast-to-coast!

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