GFU students teach their young charges coding
For one of their teaching classes at George Fox University, Abriana Wedin and Amarie Miller went out into the Newberg community and got their first glimpse of a career in education.
The duo taught a coding class to Antonia Crater Elementary students over a 10-week span, using fun games and a customized lesson plan to teach them the basics of a complex subject.
Wedin and Miller were provided a booklet of curriculum on coding and had to adapt it for the students they were teaching. Once they formulated a complete curriculum, they entered the classroom setting and began the course.
"These lessons would have different things like loops or algorithms or other things kids can learn about coding on the computer," Wedin, a junior, said. "We would create a lesson based on those vocab words and those objectives."
The students, according to Wedin, were engaged from the start. Their plan began with "unplugged" lessons – taught without the use of the computer – and ended with "plugged in" lessons at desktops.
Once plugged in, the students played a coding game that doubled as an educational tool – in which they had a virtual character face a variety of challenges.
"It was like a video game in a sense, but they were learning along the way," Wedin said. "They would have different puzzles or lessons that would tie into the vocabulary we were using. They had a lot of fun with it."
After the 10 weeks were up, Wedin and Miller brought a handful of their students – selected by their full-time teachers – into the Feb. 11 school board meeting to present what they learned. The Crater students paired up with a board member and gave them a mini-lesson, then let the members try it out.
Some of the board members struggled to grasp the lesson and laughed as they attempted to code, all the while Wedin and Miller were watching the kids enjoy what they learned and sharing it with others.
Wedin said watching the students show what they learned – and do so with relative ease – was a rewarding experience and reaffirmed her interest in a teaching career. Next year she will student teach full-time – a common experience for education students at GFU and other universities.
"It was a really incredible experience to be able to spend an hour in the classroom and actually teach rather than observe," she said. "It was great to work with the students and teachers, getting their take on things and learning from them."
The entire experience was as challenging as it was rewarding, she continued, adding that seeing the students progress in the course and use the tools in other ways made it that much more worth it.
Coding, Wedin said, is a far more applicable lesson to give students than in the past. It is applicable in a variety of career fields and the obstacles students might have faced throughout the lesson apply to other career and educational challenges as well.
"The kids were really able to work and stretch their growth mindset," she said. "They learn to face challenges and deal with frustrations, and with this class we created a list of strategies on how to deal with different coding problems. We tried to correlate that with the rest of their lives inside and outside of school."