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21st Century Learning at Montclare

17 Nov 21st Century Learning at Montclare

 

As Montclare prepares to join the tens of millions of people around the world participating in The Hour of Code the week of December 4th, we’ve been researching what it means to be a 21st-century student and educator. More specifically, what does a 21st-century learner look like in an early childhood classroom? While we are always up-to-date on current educational trends, as an administrative team, we need to evaluate these new initiatives and determine how and if they are appropriate for our preschool students.

Technological literacy is no doubt at the forefront of 21st Century skills. Most of our preschoolers already have access to technology at home and as educators and parents ourselves, we are well-versed in the current data on young children and screen-time. Whether it be an iPad, video console or a parent’s phone, children know their way around devices.  For this reason, we have researched and developed some of our own coding-without-screen activities for our young students. Our preschoolers don’t necessarily need a “device” to learn the fundamentals of coding and the processes involved.

But back to the Hour of Code. Why coding? You might want to take a moment to watch Mitch Resnick’s inspirational TED Talk, Let’s Teach Kids To Code as it offers a fresh perspective. He compares not knowing how to code to being able to read and not knowing how to write. He says, “As kids are learning to code, more importantly, they are coding to learn. When you learn to read, you can read to learn.” Thought-provoking to say the least!

As more and more leaders in the field of education are advocating for teaching code, even at the preschool level, we as educators and school leaders need to understand the deeper value associated with learning to code. How does coding support our educational, developmental and social-emotional goals and does coding fit into our curriculum to enhance our student’s learning?

What we have discovered is that, yes, coding can be an incredibly meaningful part of an early childhood education!

21st Century Learning skills are commonly defined as:

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving

 

Clearly, these are skills we have always nurtured in our students. However, introducing coding allows us an opportunity to evolve our approach and further enrich learning experiences. Educators Technology website lists the following abilities that are supported and fostered by coding:

  • Coding teaches children that learning is a process and not a product
  • Children learn how to take complex ideas and break them down into simpler parts
  • They work collaboratively
  • Coding teaches children how to persevere in the face of frustration when things are not working well
  • Coding teaches determination and risk-taking
  • Early exposure to coding demystifies the process
  • Coding is another way to be creative and problem-solve

 

Just like our students, educators and administrators are always learning at Montclare. The world seems to be moving so quickly around us as technology develops at lightning speed. Yet, our role as educators is to be thoughtful and thorough. We must ensure that, while we keep up-to-date with the latest developments in education, we are always focused on the individual growth of each of our young students.

We will be excited to share with you our Hour of Code experiences and look forward to continuing to seek and implement innovative and meaningful ways of supporting our students in becoming life-long learners!

 

Jenny Bruce is the Director of Communications for Montclare Children’s School and is currently enrolled at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Education Technology Specialist MA program. Always an avid learner and tech-fan, Jenny manages Montclare’s website, social media and supports education technology initiatives and professional development. She’s also a mother of two young boys, a blogger and a singer-songwriter (when she can).