With more coding skills entering the curriculum for Ontario students this year, Canada Learning Code is offering a free virtual conference August 9-11 to help teachers make the transition.
Canada Learning Code (CLC) debuted as the Ladies Learning Code in 2011, with the goal of helping close the gender gap in the world of technology. Since then, the organization has grown to provide programs and resources for people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. CLC CEO Melissa Sariffodeen said that as they grew, they began to realize that teachers needed a specific set of tools to effectively teach computer science to their students. TeacherCon was created in 2018 in service of this goal and it is designed to help teachers without any coding experience.
“The ability to join the program without ever having seen a line of code, without exposure, is really a central tenet of the theme and approach of this year’s TeacherCon, as we know that computing is making its way into the program. very quickly,” Sariffodeen said. .
The Ontario government has announced a new math program incorporating financial literacy and coding skills in 2020. The change applied to Grades 1-8 and Grade 9 math courses was updated a year later to include similar changes. Coding was also added to science curriculum for the same age groups earlier this year.
Sariffodeen said teachers often express fear and apprehension about learning computer skills, so TeacherCon seeks to give educators confidence in coding. In their most recent survey, over 85% of teachers who responded said they were more interested in taking additional training in technology and coding after a CLC workshop and 81% were also more interested in teaching it.
“We’ve made sure that our lessons and the materials we share are relevant to the curriculum,” Sariffodeen said, “so that a teacher walks away with an understanding of how they can make those connections to the curriculum, but also access lots of free lessons who already do.
Lessons include existing curriculum topics, such as the history of residential schools and Terry Fox’s journey across Canada, which use computers in a “fun interactive way”, she said. In addition to providing practical out-of-the-box lessons, the conference aims to help teachers learn the benefits of integrating IT and how to do it for any subject and any lesson.
Coding may only be required for math and science classes, but CLC is increasingly finding ways to incorporate it into the arts, social sciences, and even gym classes. Whether it’s pattern recognition, debugging, or other computer science concepts, there’s a foundation of skills that can be applied to a wide range of topics and situations.
“Computing can be stand-alone or integrated, and we really feel like it’s more powerful when it’s integrated,” Sariffodeen said. “We recognize that computing in the curriculum is traditionally covered in math and science, but we actually see a lot of educators and a lot of our lessons focus on how you use coding or design tools in unexpected places.”
TeacherCon offers teachers an easy way to achieve curriculum learning goals while engaging students who don’t respond as well to traditional learning methods. Sariffodeen said they often find that students light up when they learn computer skills, so this can be another tool to facilitate learning, motivate students and help them succeed beyond their time. in class.
Some CLC workshops and other programs will be back in person this year, but TeacherCon is staying virtual so as many people as possible can attend. The conference is a great entry point, she said, as teachers will have many more opportunities to leverage their learning from TeacherCon.
For those who cannot attend the conference, or those who want to learn more, CLC offers a range of resources on their website that teachers and tech enthusiasts can access at any time. With all the challenges teachers face, from changing curricula to the cost of stocking their own classrooms, the CLC team believes it’s important to provide free learning opportunities with the least amount of effort. possible obstacles.
“We believe that computer science education is something every student should have access to,” Sariffodeen said. “One of the most important things to do is support the teacher in the classroom.”
To register for TeacherCon or to view resources offered by Canada Learning Code, visit their website.