Gail Tait and Brendan Turner practice programming a Microbit during the “Code, Create, Teach” workshop on April 20. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Gail Tait and Brendan Turner practice programming a Microbit during the “Code, Create, Teach” workshop on April 20. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

North Coast teachers learn the language of technology

School District 52 teachers learned about circuits, Microbits and JavaScripts on April 20

Teachers in the northwest are learning how to help their students become literate in the language and thought processes behind today’s technology.

Forty instructors gathered in the North Coast Meeting and Convention Centre on April 20 where they participated in a day-long workshop on computational thinking, logical problem solving and how those concepts apply to coding and technology.

The workshop is called “Code, Create, Teach” and it is part of a larger effort to help teachers and students thrive in today’s rapidly changing, technology-driven society. The teachers in attendance received training on everything they might teach from a kindergarten to Grade 12 level.

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“Everything we do now, every industry, every job is touched by technology,” said Don Burks, an instructor at the workshop. “So students need to be equipped with the skills to do the problem solving, approach solutions and be familiar with the technology they’re going to encounter every day.”

Teachers from Terrace, Smithers, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii and other areas in the northwest attended the workshop, hoping to learn things that they could then pass on to their students. Andrew Samoil, the director of instruction with School District 52, said bringing a program — which is typically only available in more populated areas — up to the northwest allowed more teachers to attend.

“We’re trying to provide the same education opportunities as a student would get in a larger centre, such a Vancouver or Toronto,” Samoil said. “It’s hard to get a large number of staff to go to those larger centres whereas here, we were able to have them come to us and it brought a lot more people to the event, which benefited our students.”

The day began with an exercise designed to illustrated the basic concepts of computational thinking, which is a logical, systematic approach to solving problems. The group was split up into teams, and then had to guide one member of the team — who was blindfolded — to find a ping-pong ball. The challenge showed that a computational approach is a method of thought that could be applied to a broad range of tasks, and is not limited only to coding.

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The group then went on to work with a visual coding-language program called “scratch”, a simple learning tool called Microbits, which enables students to program basic circuit boards, and they practised some basic JavaScript programming.

Burks said he was encouraged by the teacher’s reception of the training.

“We’re really excited to see people be willing to try out new things, be willing to embrace technologies and tools they have used before, and see the possibilities for using them in teaching,” he said.



matthew.allen@thenorthernview.com

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