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Ready, Set, Code ... Starting a Code Club for Elementary Grades

Change display time — Currently: Central Daylight Time (CDT) (Event time)
Location: La Nouvelle Ballroom, Table 9
Experience live: All-Access Package

Participate and share : Poster

Samantha Smith  
Minecraft, moding, gamification - if you don't feel comfortable with many of those terms, stop by and learn the basics. Hear about the trials and tribulations of one coach's attempt to establish an after-school coding club for seven-plus schools (that actually worked), with little to no budget or experience.

Audience: Coaches, Library media specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None are necessary ahead of time. Everything is web-based.
Topic: Computer science & computational thinking
Grade level: PK-5
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Learning Designer
  • Collaborate with educators to design accessible and active digital learning environments that accommodate learner variability.
For Educators:
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of sharing on this topic is to help add enrichment and engagement opportunities for students. By sharing how simple it can be, and how it can be self-directed I think it takes the pressure off the educator to get it up and running. I am hoping to share how I am continuing to evolve the program and keeping simple enough that anyone can offer this opportunity to their students with little to no coding background. The engagement, creativity, and problem solving that it fosters in students is irreplaceable. I found from running my first session, once I had all the students on and "working", to hear their conversations and see their reactions and focus. It reminded me of the "why" that people are often looking for. Educators, administrators, parents are looking for the "why". Seeing students work on these activities when they have a goal in mind that THEY established, speaks louder than any words that can come out of an innovative, veteran teacher's mouth. Educators will come out of this session knowing how to start as low as kindergarten with coding to start to foster the love of solving puzzles and playing games. It will quickly evolve to meet the needs of any grade level and ability with a variety of apps, and curriculum provided from websites like It can transform from playing games to solving problems, found in their classroom, school or community. Much of the curricula for coding that is available now is being created by former Silicon Valley developers. The Article from,( by Mark Engelberg), states that England has made a push and succeed in making computer science a core subject. ISTE standards are developed in an effort to prepare our students to be competitive in the International work force. This is yet another opportunity to offer a "job readiness" skill, even starting at a young age. Programming can be cross curricular, foster problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as being fun. Students can gain skills in their recreational time (since many schools are not offering it during their day) at no cost, that could put them in a position leaving high school that they would need very little, and rather inexpensive, secondary training/education to be employable in a market that is struggling to fill lucrative positions with qualified, self driven, motivated individuals. Participants will leave this session with an initial plan to use with their class or with their school to help start a coding club to help expose students to coding and foster the job ready skills that are going to help put their students ahead of the rest now and in their bright future. I have successfully duplicated this Code Club at the elementary level in 7 schools for 6 years now. Looking forward to starting our third year and continuing to grow the program I have presented on this topic at a State and National Conference to date.

Supporting research schoolsusevideogamesteachcomputer- coding

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Samantha Smith, RLASD

Considered passionate about ed tech, Samantha Smith (@EdTechSmith) helps support 300+ teachers in South Central Pennsylvania. Always willing to share, presenting in various venues including state & international technology conferences over the past 14 yrs. Sam covers topics ranging from differentiation with ed tech, blended learning, personalized learning getting started right with technology, everything & anything web tools, coding, digital citizenship & Google Apps for Education. Google for Education Certified Trainer - April 2015. Apple Teacher. CodeSpark Ambassador. KTI 2011/2016. 23 years in Education.

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