Computer coding at River Oaks Public School integrates important subjects

River Oaks Public School Grade 6 students are learning computer coding
Computer coding at River Oaks Public School integrates important subjects

Grade 6 students at River Oaks Public School are being exposed to 21st century learning through innovative computer coding that also integrates important subjects such as mathematics and language.

Under the guidance of teacher Cameron Steltman, students in his Oakville class spend one period every Friday exploring the world of computer programming. Students learn different aspects of coding language, like python, HTML and javascript, to create interactive websites or games. These keys unlock the growing digital world to help students understand how it comes to life, whether one is making an object become three-dimensional or programming it to simply bounce around on the screen.

While students work largely independently and at their own pace, Steltman helps them navigate in their coding quest if they face obstacles. Steltman follows his students progress through the Halton Cloud and their use of free online programs related this area of study.

“Coding education has many benefits,” he explained. Understanding computer programming is also more than just obtaining jobs in a 21st century economy. It teaches students persistence and problem solving through exploration, important skills in any career.

The computer programming aspect will be necessary in almost all fields in the future, including understanding how computers work and how to make them work for you. These will be skills required to obtain jobs in educational, technological and medicinal fields, and more.”

When learning to code, students are making many key curriculum connections.

Computer coding is the integration of media literacy and geometry, among other things,” he said. “Through the coordinates they need to figure out, as well as how to make specific things move from one spot to another, students are constantly using math. They also use a lot of number sense through the concept of pixel size, when they have the computer drawing images.”

The coding program has provided an enriched learning experience for River Oaks students. Kate is creating an animation of her name by utilizing a function where she clicks one of the letters in her name to make it change colour. She appreciates the hands-on experience of coding.

“You get to make something completely by yourself and make whatever you want,” she said. “You can see what’s happening. The information sticks with you.”

“Technology is evolving and everything is getting more advanced so I think learning coding would be helpful,” said Cameron, who is making his own website. “We’re not just playing, we’re creating.”

“Coding goes beyond building an app or game and cultivates students’ critical thinking skills,” said River Oaks Principal Mike Bukovcan. “Learning how take a problem and solve it through coding will become an essential skill for the 21st century learner. It’s a great way to promote critical thinking and perseverance,” he said. “When you’re coding, you are forced to think of a process and work through it.”

Grant Davidson, Halton District School Board’s Coordinator of Instructional Technologies said “students have much to gain from understanding coding and its impact on their digital world. We believe it’s important for students to have an understanding of the creation of the media they consume as it influences their lives in many ways. We give students the opportunity to write and perform, create and play music, shoot and edit video and publish their work to the web. Having an understanding of coding is another way for them to understand the technologies around them and to be able to begin to create or control their own technology.”

“Coding certainly factors into students’ futures. By providing students with coding experiences in elementary school, students can make an informed choice on whether to take Computer Science in Grade 10-12,” Davidson noted. “Jobs in many fields are increasingly requiring some understanding of coding. Even if the job itself doesn’t require the worker to do the coding, they may be working on a team that includes programmers.”

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