Recorder: "Students learn computer coding at Federal Street School"

Computer Coding at Federal Street School

Photo credit: Paul Franz

By JOSHUA SOLOMON

Recorder Staff

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

GREENFIELD — On the green chalkboard wall rested a poster showing former President Barack Obama — quoting him, “Don’t just play on your phone, program it.”

In front of the chalkboard and the poster were a line of computers in this technology room at the Federal Street School.

Sitting in front of those computers were fourth-graders, learning how to code on Tuesday morning at the Greenfield public school.

“Technology is our future. We need to embrace it,” technology teacher Katie Hopps said. “And these are the kids of the future.”

The teaching opportunity was a part of a special “Hour of Code” programming, part of a global effort to teach students to code. This week at Federal Street School, Hopps is teaching her classes exactly that.

The group of students watched two videos, one that was a rap about 10 reasons it’s cool to code and the other an instructional video on how to code in pairs. Students then went off in twos to computers in the classroom and chose from a short selection of coding activities that were curated by Hopps.

“I teach them the basics,” Hopps said. “Here I try to spark their excitement.”

As the students tackled tasks, like designing a Google homepage or coding their own “Flappy Bird” game, based on the popular mobile app game, they worked through problem solving skills and partner work.

Normally in technology class, students may learn keyboard skills or play various games on the computer, while using other skill sets from English or math. They will also learn how to be a “proper digital citizen,” which includes do’s and don’ts of internet behavior.

“It’s teaching them the skills of the future,” Hopps said. “A lot of keyboarding. A lot of mouse control. Then we look at the bigger picture.”

When they move onto Greenfield Middle School, students will have a chance to learn more about computer science with teacher Rachel Cummings.

But during Hour to Code week, they were put to task on skills one finds in computer science work.

For some of the students in Hopps’ technology class, it was refreshing change of pace from the usual, and definitely more fun than other classes.

“This is the first time I coded. It’s actually really fun,” D’leeah Collins, 9, said. “You make mistakes and you get to fix them.”

Her partner for the activity, Zachary Ozdarski, 9, has coded in the past while playing a computer game, but he was excited for a chance to do more of it in the classroom.

“There are some other things we do instead of just coding, but if we could do it more the reason I’d want to is you can create stuff that you can also play,” Zachary said.

D’leeah agreed, adding, “It feels like you’re learning how to make the games.”

Just because it’s about games though, doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake.

“It’s hard because you don’t know all the things and it might make a big difference,” if you press the wrong button, Iris Richards, 9, said.

Her computer partner, Brad Kabaniec, 10, while designing a mock homepage for Google pressed an unknowing button, leaving him with a succinct response: “That looks sick ... how’d that happen?” Iris then showed him the keys he pressed that may have led to that new design.

“I think that’s it’s really interesting because you’re making your own design or game on a computer,” Iris said. “It’s cool that you can make all this different stuff.”