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Coding in K-8 Classrooms: Empowering Creativity Everyday

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYOD

Monday, June 24, 8:30–9:30 am
Location: 115C

Dr. Julie Evans   Dr. Kari Stubbs  
Let’s get beyond the coding hype! In this hands-on session, we'll leverage the Speak Up national results to dive deeply into how learning coding enables students to develop creativity skills and become content creators. Using real tools, we'll explore what educators need to infuse coding into K-8 curriculum.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Computer science and computational thinking
Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
Creative Communicator
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

"Very few people grow up to be professional writers, but we teach everyone to write because it’s a way of communicating with others—of organizing your thoughts and expressing your ideas. I think the reasons for learning to code are the same as the reasons for learning to write. When we learn to write, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas. And when we learn to code, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas in new ways, in a new medium.” - Mitch Resnik. Scratch co-creator.

Why should you care about Computational Thinking and Coding in your school or district?
There’s a shift happening in our communities, in our homes, in colleges, and in the careers for which we are working so hard to prepare our students….Our children are moving beyond a digital world in which they are simply consumers of digital content, into a new horizon in which they are citizens well equipped to identify problems and create elegant solutions leveraging their skills as digital creators. Beyond the introduction that many students have had through the “hour of code” and before they engage in a “sequential coding curriculum” often times only taught in CS classes at the high school, our kids are crying out for opportunities to learn to code. And it’s happening with an explosive level of interest in our elementary and middle school classrooms.
This hands-on session will encourage us to explore together, how we can support our children in this very important pendulum shift.

Coding helps students develop critical thinking skills, creativity skills and how to use technology effectively - skills that parents and admins say are most important for college and career readiness. And per the SpeakUp survey results from 2017 - 47% of parents and 38% of district admins believe that learning coding or computer programming is one of the best ways to develop these college and career ready skills. (SpeakUp Research Project for Digital Learning 2017-2018 findings based on 406,779 K-12 students, parents, and educators from around the world.)

The SpeakUp data also has much to reveal about kids. It tells us that kids are interested in learning more about coding, but there’s a dramatic discrepancy between kid’s interest in learning how to code and actually engaging in those experiences. In fact, 63% of K-3 students are interested in learning to code, but only 14% are actually doing it. In grades 3-5, 47% are interested in learning to code with only 20 percent actually coding. There’s a pipeline issue happening in these early years. There’s also an equity issue that transcends both socio-economic status and gender when it comes to coding. In grades K-12, kids in Title 1 schools are consistently MORE interested in learning to code than their non-title 1 peers, but especially at the K-5 level they engage in much fewer coding experiences than their non-title 1 peers. Evidence suggests this period is a critical time to introduce underrepresented groups to computer science. That equity issue extends to gender. The percentage of girls interested in coding falls 22 percentage points from K-2 to grades 9-12.

This session will explore the relationship between coding and facilitating environments for students to become creators, not just consumers of content; current perceptions on the value of and interest in coding in K-8 education; and what educators need to infuse coding into their curriculum through hands-on coding experiences.

Attendees will also leave with access to a newly released white paper and infographic on the importance of coding for college and career ready skills.


This session intentionally includes a combination of whole and small group dialogue with ample opportunities to take advantage of the BYOD session format. Content featured includes:

-Introduction of Presenters (2 minutes)

-Hands-On Coding Lead in Activity (5 minutes)

-College and career ready skill development and the importance of students developing creativity as a preparation skill (10 minutes)

-Relationship between enabling creativity and content development by students and their experiences with learning how to code (10 minutes)
----How do K-8 parents and administrators think that students should develop creativity and/or creation type skills?
----How is the role of creator (not just consumer) valued within education?
----Differences in these perspectives by type of community or other factors
----Particular focus here on Title 1 schools
----Longitudinal look at the data findings – how has it changed?

-Students are interested in learning how to code! (10 minutes)
----Students’ current coding activities
----Students’ interests in coding – K-8
----Parents’ interests in coding for their children
----Differences in those interest levels and longitudinal changes over the past few years
----Particular focus here on Title 1 schools

-How to incorporate coding in K-8 education (10 minutes)
----Exemplars from schools that are already incorporating coding into their curriculum - particular emphasis on where they are seeing coding an entry point to students as content creators
-Hands-on experiences with text- and block-based coding from Creative Coding

-Q&A (5 minutes)

-Resource toolbox - attendees will leave with strategies and tools to transform the way that they engage kids in coding (5 minutes)

Supporting research

Caldwell, Josh (2018) Creative Coding. ISTE publication

McLemore, Caitlin and Passeport, Fanny (2018) Stretch Yourself: A Personalized Journey to Deepen Your Teaching Practice

SEG. (2009) A Study of the Effectiveness of BrainPOP. Retrieved on September 18, 2017 at http://www.brainpop.com/educators/community/effectiveness-study/

Williams, Heidi (2017) No Fear Coding. ISTE publication

Shellenbarger, Sue (2016). New Ways to Teach Young Children to Code

Merrill, Stephen (2017). The Future of Coding in Schools
How Learning To Code Develops Kids’ Creativity

O’Rourke, Brigid (2014). Coding and Creativity

More [+]


Dr. Julie Evans, Project Tomorrow
Dr. Kari Stubbs, Stages Learning, ISTE Board alumni

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