There has been a lot of talk about introducing computer science to elementary students and adding it as a course in schools. An even bigger buzz word is CODING. So what is coding? I’m going to tell you in my own simple terms. Coding is the term used for instructing a computer what to do. You can use word, symbols and numbers to tell the computer to go left, right, backwards, forwards, move 10 spaces or 20 and do the same thing all over again, and then even more can be done. I think you get the picture. I don’t have a degree in computer science or technology, but one thing is for sure, I love working with the software that is made for computers. I have tried the coding tools and free tutorials and I can say they are very fun. There has been a lot of emphasis placed on getting students to begin exploring coding, especially girls and specifically minorities. Teaching and assisting my students to code has been pretty amazing as I see a lot of social benefits when working with them.
You possibly by now have heard of Black Girls Code, Their mission is “to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. ” There is also Girls who code. They are “a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.”
One of my all time favorites is home-grown Emile Cambry Jr. (his mom is a colleague of mine) who is the founder of Blue 1647, located in the Pilsen area in Chicago. This young guy is making a huge difference in economic development in technology. He holds a number of classes all geared toward assisting teens to learn about coding, making apps, video games and learning to love computer science. Check out their site Blue 1647. The next sites are opening in the Englewood and North Kenwood communities. I am planning to volunteer some time to Emile’s group.
So this brings me to my title, the social emotional learning in coding. How can a social worker/clinician, that loves computer engagement, use coding to counsel and teach students. Well I found a wonderful , fun and engaging way to not only teach my students coding, but conduct formative assessments, while teaching social skills. I found a great tool called Beebot. Beebot is a small programmable robot that holds at least 40 commands and travels in 6″ steps and 90 degree turns. I have a grid that is pre made, that I use with my Beebot to complement my lessons.
I have chosen to do bibliotherapy readings with my students from a variety of social emotional books. Some of my favorites are by Julia Cook (Tattle Tongue) and the Howard B. Wigglebotttom series. I have enclosed a short video of how we use Beebot. The students (who have had some exposure to basic coding) love to use logic and directional skills to program Beebot to the correct answer. I’ve also used Beebot with numbers and other picture prompts. There are loads of sites a clinician can use to introduce coding to students. You’ll get students to: collaborate, use decision-making skills, take turns, learn directional skills, control emotions and many other social emotional skills with coding. See Beebot in action below
Click here: http://www.teachertube.com/embed/video/372368
- Some great place to start coding with your students http://code.org/ start with the Frozen tutorial, so fun and engaging
- https://www.touchdevelop.com/ start with the hour of code here
- lightbot – on the android system (free and paid version)
- Kodable on iPad