Adam Caplan is the Technology & Teaching Coach at St. Clement’s, an all-girls school in Toronto that is working with Hatch to offer an after-school coding program for their Middle School students. We had a chance to talk with Adam and learn about a technology educator’s perspective on the benefits of teaching children coding and programming.
There are incredible resources for teachers wanting to use technology in the classroom. Where do you start?
I most recently went to this conference, ISTE, that around 16,000 teachers attend to learn about new technology and uses in Education. Some people assume more tech is better and that’s not what it’s about for me. As an educator, I don’t look at the trends naively; I look at what the school needs and what the students will benefit from most.
Why is it important to have technology in the curriculum (or as an after-school offering)?
Many other schools are ‘all in’ with Makerspaces and they often mandate coding. It’s important that we offer it as an option for students who are interested, which is why we do it as a co curricular after-school program. There was a desire for coding, and because women are underrepresented in coding-related industries, it’s important that we give our students that opportunity.
How did you integrate Hatch to your program?
We tried Hatch for our grade 7 and 8 girls. The Hatch program can be a deep dive because the students are using true programming languages and coding structures. For the students who signed up, it was immersive.
What do your students enjoy about Hatch?
For one, it’s self-paced. You can hack as much or as little as you want within the Hatch platform. In a girl’s school, what’s wonderful is that when someone is interested, they’re interested. It has nothing to do with being a girl, just has to do with interests. Coding club is a time when they’re actually learning tech itself.
Actually learning tech as opposed to…?
While there is an amazing focus on tech integration our curriculum, often it’s about using tech so that young learners can learn about other things. Using Explain Everything to record a problem-solving strategy video or creating a Google Doc to organize group’s research are great examples of this. For teachers, it’s about connecting ideas with ideas and connecting people with people. It’s great for students who are interested to learn about technology itself as well.
How do you think students can use coding outside of school?
There is a lot of opportunity to apply skills developed through coding. Media literacy was in vogue a while ago and for good reason – it’s important. When students can learn and understand how applications are made, it’s one more way to widen their understanding of the world. It’s like derivatives and constants in calculus – if change is a constant, the same things end up being important. For example, syntax, communication and working together are always important. Nuances and context will change, but it’s always about the experience the child is getting. Learning to code is one more good experience we can provide to our young learners.
What are some things that you would like coding students to know?
That, for most people, mastery is not as important as the experience. For example, in public speaking and presentation skills, it’s important to know how to make Slide Decks and use video recording tools for self reflection, and there is obviously tech competency needed there. However, having the ability to teach and reteach yourself a skill that can be used in the future is most valuable. One day, when our students are working in whatever their chosen field is, the hope is that the experiences they have had while at St. Clement's will make a big difference and give them a leg up.
Laying the groundwork for collaboration and communication are what we are all about at Hatch, and Adam does a great job highlighting the importance of the experience that learning code can teach children. Learn more about camps, weekly classes and after-school programs and sign up today! Get your school involved! Contact David via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.