Coding is generally understood to be the concept of using code (often as a computer programming language) to control a computer or another electronic device. There are different levels of coding – from the on and off of a resistor in a circuit board to the commands used to generate a website. Over the last several years, coding in elementary education has gained importance. Many teachers, governments, and parents are keen to encourage students to use technology that will enable them to pursue jobs in the technology sector. Others wish to see the next generation become creators of technological solutions, as opposed to solely consumers of technology. For a more detail discussion please see related articles in the Globe and Mail or Forbes.
Ok, but how is this related to computational thinking?
Computational thinking is a concept introduced by Jeanette M. Wing in 2006. It is broadly embraced as the skill set developed while solving problems using a systematic approach to compute or find a solution.
Many of these problem-solving skills, such as the ability to break a problem down into steps (ie. decomposition), can support student critical and creative thinking in many different learning domains. Students also learn to see patterns and discern what is important in creating a solution (ie. abstraction) and build testable models (ie. modeling) during the solution finding process.
The purpose of this project is to create an online resource to support coding in French immersion elementary classrooms in British Columbia. Since the introduction of computational thinking into the Applied Design, Skills, and Technology curriculum (ADST), elementary French immersion teachers have been presented a challenge as they debate the most effective methods of initiating computational thinking in the context of an immersive language learning programme. An explanatory resource that offers sample activities has been created to assist educators in understanding the value of teaching coding in French immersion and how to get started.