The following is a guest blog written by a CodeMonkey Teacher Ambassador
Our school has recently embraced Social Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL as defined by the Committee for Children “is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.”
CASEL defines SEL as “how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. There is no better way to incorporate Social Emotional Learning into the curriculum than through teaching coding in the elementary grades.”
Coding incorporates the 4Cs; communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. These skills along with perseverance and problem solving are some of the top skills employers are looking for in new hires. When using a coding application like CodeMonkey, students are working on a fun coding platform. CodeMonkey provides students with an interactive game-based application where they collect bananas and receive stars for their achievements.
When a student gets their code to work there is no greater feeling of accomplishment. Students gain confidence in themselves, which in turn motivates them to want to continue coding and to work harder to succeed. This self-awareness gives the students an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The skill of perseverance provides them the motivation to want to try to succeed in other areas whether academically or extracurricular. Students learn to never give up.
Coding gives students the ability to learn self-control. Students with great self control tend to do better in school and have higher self-esteem. Writing code is difficult. Programmers need to have the correct spelling and syntax. Students build their self-control and confidence when they are able to get their code to work.
Paired programming provides students with the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with their peers. In paired programming, two students partner up to code together. They discuss their strategies and problem solve together. They take turns at the keyboard entering their solutions.
Debugging teaches problem solving and critical thinking. Because no one is perfect, computer programmers can make mistakes. Debugging teaches students that it is okay to make mistakes. It is important to break down code into smaller parts and look for your mistakes. Teaching students not to fear failure is an important SEL skill to acquire.
Communication is another key skill employers look for. Students learn to communicate through coding. When students teach classmates how to do something, not only does teaching their peers establish empathy, the student teacher is reinforcing their own learning. There is no better feeling as a teacher to see your students reteach your lesson to a classmate and your student having that aha moment.
Students also acquire self-satisfaction when they realize they got something correct. When they see those three stars appear on the screen after completing a coding puzzle, it’s as if they won the Super Bowl. Their goal post dance is just as exciting to watch. My students don’t let their neighbors struggle. If they notice someone is lacking patience or perseverance, they pitch in and help, establishing positive relationships so greatly needed in society and the workplace.
Teachers cannot see these skills as apparent in their reading, writing, and social studies classes. The skills they gain through coding are endless. My goal is not to teach every student to be a computer programmer, but by learning coding, every student can become more self-aware, have more self-control, and gain the interpersonal skills needed to be successful in their future careers and in society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paige Besthoff is an Instructional Technologist from Spotswood, NJ. She is a CodeMonkey Ambassador, Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator and LittleBits Lead Educator. You can follow her at @pcteachershs.