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Computer Science: ”It’s not just for some, It’s for everyone”
“Everyone can code.”
Cheri Bortleson is the K5 STEM and Computer Science Developer for the Bellevue School District in Washington State.
“I think it’s absolutely critical that we change the cultural narrative around computer science and coding,” says Cheri. “It’s not just for some, it’s for everyone.”
Cheri is working with her school district to create a reproducible model that will teach computer science to students. It’s why she was excited to get to test Code Jumper in one of her schools. Code Jumper is an accessible tool that allows all students to learn how to code by plugging together pods and building their own stories, jokes, and songs.
Not familiar with Code Jumper? Catch up by watching this quick video.
Working with Robin Lowell (who created the Code Jumper curriculum), and classroom teachers, Cheri planned a series of lessons implemented each week for a month.
Each session started with a mini lesson focusing on topics like algorithms, sequencing, or looping. From there students broke up into small groups and rotated through the following stations.
Unplugged Activity: Games like “coding hopscotch” were a memorable way to learn, and empowered students to realize computer science “ideas” were within their grasp.
Connection to Literacy: Students journaled about what they were learning and read a book about coding.
Code.org: Students completed online coding lessons.
Code Jumper: Students applied computational thinking and computer science concepts while in cooperate groups using Code Jumper.
“We learned that while Code Jumper is really designed for kids with visual impairments, it was great for all the kids, and we even had amazing results with students we weren’t quite expecting. We had students who have emotional and behavioral challenges and Code Jumper was great for them. It’s so tactile and it’s such an immediate response with the sound. It’s this idea of inputs and outputs that are so immediate that it was really beneficial for a lot of the kids,” says Cheri.
Code Jumper was designed for children ages 7-11, but Cheri’s test was with Kindergarteners, showing the tool can be used in many different settings with great success.
“We try to have a variety of tools so there are multiple points for engagement. I think that’s where Code Jumper is exciting.” Cheri says all students can use Code Jumper, but for some it will be their main point of access to learn how to code.
Cheri’s excitement isn’t just for an inclusive learning tool, it’s also for the message it’s sending to her students. “Each week we shared stories and videos with the kids about a range of people with differing abilities who are all involved in computer science. We know historically who’s been marginalized in STEM and especially in computer science, so I think it’s really a powerful way to have a tool where everyone can participate and there is collaboration. “
Ready to learn more about Code Jumper? Visit codejumper.com.
Want to buy your own Code Jumper? Visit the APH shop site.
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