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Whispering Ridge grade one students learning to code

Whispering Ridge Community school in Grande Prairie may be teaching the next generation of coders. Sixteen Grade One students are being taught how to code. Teacher Katelan Steward says coding fits in with a number of different subjects she teaches.

“For us, it fit in really nicely with our science unit. We’re working on a building unit and we’re just examining how things work, how things are built and the students were curious how computers work and it was a really great opportunity for them to gain that understanding first hand.”

Steward’s class isn’t the only one in the  Peace Wapiti Public School Division to learn this. The division has two Educational Technology Coaches who travel around to different schools teaching kindergarten and grade one students.

Grade 1 students Rylee and Jayda with the Bee-Bot, submitted

The coding is taught with the help of a device called a Bee-Bot, a small programmable robot, which Steward says takes children through the coding process step by step.

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“You place them on a grid and students must write the code by pressing arrows to move them forwards, backwards, left and right. Then when they think they’ve programmed the correct code they press go and watch their robot go, hopefully to where they want. If not, they keep trying till they succeed.”

Steward feels there’s often the thought that technology in schools is a negative thing that replaces teaching things like writing and communication. She doesn’t believe that’s the case though.

“In today’s schools, we use technology in addition to building all those foundational skills but just incorporating technology meaningfully allows students to better communicate and to be more creative; and it’s definitely an advantage versus a disadvantage.”

The students’ next coding class will be on January 24th. Steward hopes to continue this with her students throughout the year.

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