3rd Through 5th Grades
: As students move into the older elementary grades, they will be ready for higher-level coding and thinking. The more background they have at this point, the better—but even for beginners, the standards at this age range are very applicable.

Planning and carrying out investigations: At this point developmentally, students should be able to plan more for their coding projects. Some of the tinkering that students do in the primary grades is great for exploration, but beginning in third grade, we want students to be able to plan—and then carry out the plan through an investigation.

There are many avenues to accomplish this, but I have found that small, somewhat inexpensive robots are great for this stage of education. The Dash and Dot robots can build into EV3 Lego Robots if resources allow. The best way to meet this standard is to have the students develop the plan, or pattern of movement, before they actually start coding.

This upfront thinking is critical for students. Many of them come to us with a “video game” attitude toward technology—they just keep trying things until something works. This can be somewhat effective, but is extremely inefficient. Plus, this isn’t the type of thinking we want to reinforce in our classrooms. We don’t want students to keep guessing at how to spell a word until they get it right, we want them to apply rules to words and sounds so they can spell it right on the first try.

Middle School-6th Grade Through 8th Grade: 
If all students are exposed to coding at an early age, some will latch onto it and some will not. As students get older, they may not all be master coders, but they should all be able to apply the principles of the thinking to various contexts. Here is how that may look in a science lab:

Structure, function, and information processing: At this point, this is less about the coding and more about the thinking for many students. Consider the standard, “Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.” The student can create a code, either real or unplugged, that demonstrates a stimuli coming in and then a series of receptors reacting. These kinds of linear, if-then science situations are perfect for a “code” to be applied. Possibly, some of the students who are more adept at coding could actually create real-world applications of this using a Boxlight Portable STEM Labdisc as the stimuli source.

In high school, the standards—though more diverse—are no less suited for applying the concepts of computer science to their field and concepts. There are many ideas, so don’t fall for the “there’s no time to work in coding” mantra. Once students have some coding knowledge, there is no end to how the other standards can be supported.

About the Author:

Mr. Kelly Bielefeld is the principal at Clearwater Intermediate and Middle School Clearwater USD 264 – Clearwater, KS.