Teachers in Greater Victoria were treated to a free 3-day deep dive into coding when TeacherCon came to town July 17-19.
Put on by Canada Learning Code and funded by CanCode, the cross-Canada workshops are an opportunity for Canadian educators in the K-12 school system to gain skills through coding activities and challenges that can be brought back to the classroom to inspire kids to be builders – not just consumers – of technology.
“Ladies Learning Code was our very first iteration as an organization. In the past seven or eight years we’ve been able to reach out to tens of thousands of Canadians, usually in the under-represented areas for tech, in order to teach digital literacy skills,” said Sharon Brown, educator and program manager for Canada Learning Code. “TeacherCon is straight-on addressing the teacher audience with the realization that if we can get teachers learning code and bringing that into the classroom we have an even bigger reach into our students who need to learn how to code.”
The Victoria event, hosted at the GNS Junior School campus, brought together teachers from the local school districts, mentors from the tech industry, and educators from Canada Learning Code for an intensive hands-on experience working with a variety of coding software and adorable Little Robot Friends.
“We have had three jam-packed days of different programs, different tools, different tips and tricks that we can take back to our classrooms when we go back in the fall,” said Missy Haynes, one of the participating teachers. “It’s becoming really popular to have curriculum gamified or codified. We can do one event and pull in pieces from all of our curricular competencies. Really making sure we are incorporating social studies into coding and English into coding and music into coding and not only doing it that way but also turning it into a game so that it is entertaining for the students and they are immediately hooked.”
During the workshop, the teachers used coding to program Little Robot Friends to sing theme songs, snore when laid down, play peek-a-boo, act scared when surprised – the options seemed endless for the microprocessors with cute facades.
“We do coding here at our school in Grades 3-5 and I’m hoping to bring that down to Grades 1 and 2,” said Hilary Cross, educational technologist at GNS Junior School. “I’m really encouraged to see the number of teachers that showed up from the area, because we’re realizing more and more that kids needs to know about coding.”
TeacherCon also provided the teachers with how-to guides, an online lesson-planning platform, and community support for afterward.
“The federal government wants Canadians to learn digital literacy skills and so they have offered up CanCode program funding,” said Brown.