Coding For All Ages: Nashoba Brooks Undertakes School-wide Coding Initiative

In late December, 2014, the entirety of Nashoba Brooks School united in pursuit of a common goal: coding. Participating in the global movement Hour of Code, students in Preschool through Grade 8 devoted a full morning to tackling a variety of coding projects.

In every subject, students will encounter setbacks; in coding, where a seemingly insignificant error will halt a code in its tracks, roadblocks can be frequent and frustrating. “Coding really touches upon Nashoba Brooks’ theme for the 2014-2015 year: resilience,” explained Christine McCarthy, Instructional Technologist. “No one — not even professional computer scientists — code perfectly all the time. We used this initiative as an opportunity to talk with students about strategies for managing frustration and the value of relying on your classmates to help break through roadblocks.”

To prepare, the Instructional Technology department worked closely with teachers to find developmentally appropriate ways to incorporate coding into their curricula. The Lower School took on more structured and hands-on projects, taking into account that younger students often learn best when they can touch and manipulate objects. Kindergarteners experimented with manipulative BeeBots, small, bee-shaped robots that move about the room in response to simple directional coding. The projects grew progressively more abstract with each rising grade; in the Middle School, students were given more complex challenges as well as more freedom to explore coding independently using programs like Khan Academy and Tynker.

“More than a foundational and highly applicable skill, coding is also a wonderful vehicle for students to gain critical thinking and problem solving skills that benefit all aspects their educations,” said Regina Nixon, Director of Technology and Integration. “Coding hits on so many key skills: resilience, collaboration, and creativity. Hour of Code was a great start and we are excited to build on it as the year continues.”

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