"Coding is a group activity..." says Andrew Stone super cool guru software developer and creator of Twittelator in a recent Skype chat with our students in our new TLCoding Lab--a lunch time enrichment program developed by Academic Excellence@TL (AE@TL). Stone's statement seems to contrast sharply against the typical stereo-typed image of the lone programmer sipping Mountain Dew while typing solely into the wee hours of the morning. Stone continued to explain that really teams put together the apps, games and programs that we use in our daily lives. A wonderful outcome of our weekly coding lab is that we see each Wednesday our student attendance growing, and also individual students reaching out to one another to trouble shoot bugs and challenges in the instructional materials. Today's SKYPE chat brought our students together in an unexpected way.
A sudden dip in bandwidth just before our SKYPE chat began with Stone, caused the call to drop, then reconnect with only sound and not video. Immediately our savvy student tech was working the problem with Stone. Immediately students began to brainstorm as a group and began to purposed alternate solutions to the tiresome connectivity issue. Two students immediately rose to support their fellow tech student and classmate with offers to help work the problem. Additional students began to offer their cell phones to provide wireless hot spots for the SKYPE. Another student had a special tower to tower connection with her phone and offered to run the entire chat off her phone as not to have the whole TLCoding Lab team miss such an amazing opportunity.. The tiresome connectivity issue sorted itself out and the chat was a HUGE success thanks to the calm student tech and the group's critical thinking, collaboration, brainstorming, problem solving, and TEAMWORK!
Stone identified as a take-away for our students that "critical thinking and teamwork" are keys to success in computer programming. Funny, they are "the very same keys" to success that are popularized by many educators today in project-based learning and proponents of core curriculum. So, why isn't Computer Science offered in our curriculum as a critical path in STEM education at TL; or in our district? Our students, who give up their lunch hour to code each week, see it as a necessary and vital key to their academic success and futures beyond TL. AE@TL believes that Computer Science is an essential key to knowledge that is relevant in our students academic lives and futures to our students beyond TL; and that is why we are working hard to raise funds and advocate for it to be part of the curriculum. We only wish that our TL community--teachers, administrators, and parents-- got to see our students in action today successfully using "the keys" of collaborating and community in TLCoding Lab! TLCoding Lab offers our students each week the keys for academic success come in and see.