Innovate to Educate Entry
Mineola Union Free School District
Matt Gaven, Director of Technology
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|Mineola UFSD's Coding for All|
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?All over the world, computers are being used to help solve some of society's most intractable problems. From curing cancer, to clean energy, computers and the engineers that program them are hard at work trying to make life better for those around them. The Mineola Union Free School District recognizes the importance of coding skills and has devised a program to help our students learn the world's most important language, code.
The name of our program is "Coding for All". This innovative program has allowed Mineola students K-12 access to expert computer scientists from our partner, KidOYO which stands for (On Your Own) to facilitate their understanding of computer coding and engineering. The online collaboration between KidOYO computer scientists and Mineola students has allowed our students to receive instruction and assistance from expert coders without having to hire faculty with these skills. Since the program's beginning in 2015, Mineola students have had the opportunity to learn computer code in three different software languages: MIT's Scratch for elementary, HTML for middle school students, and Python for upper middle and HS students. Students submit their work using the online platform and receive feedback and instruction from KidOYO's computer scientists. "
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?The three biggest challenges we faced were: 1. Problem: Proving students with access to computer scientists. Solution: Mineola's partnership with KidOYO solved this problem by providing students with a online platform to submit their code and get feedback and tips from computer scientists. 2. Problem: Connecting coding projects to curriculum. Solution: Our teachers identified curricular topics and partnered with KidOYO to design coding challenges directly tied to age appropriate learning standards. 3. Problem: Allowing teachers to facilitating student coding projects. Solution: Our teachers worked hand in hand with KidOYO to devise the coding challenges and understood that faculty did not need to know the nuances of three programming languages; KidOYO would provide the direct instruction. Our teachers needed to be able to provide instruction in the identified curricular content around which the coding challenge was designed. This key understanding allowed the initiative to blossom during its first year.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
|The first key component for any ed-tech innovation to succeed is reliable technology. Mineola has devised and developed a network that supports 2000 PCs, 3000 iPads, and 500 chromebooks. Our infrastructure provides reliable and speedy connection to the Internet at the same time as providing filtering safeguards to insure our children a safe and age appropriate web experience.|
The second key component to any ed-tech innovation is for students, teacher, and parents to understand the relevance of the program. It is important for teachers and parents to be able to answer the question, "Why is it important that students participate in the initiative?" Working with district administration, the teachers involved were given access to professional development that included the district's rationale for the program. In order to bring parents on board, the Board of Education held Coding Nights so that parents and students could work together to complete coding projects.
|The third component is the support of the Board of Education. The Board of Education in Mineola understands the importance of educational technology. They embrace the promise and opportunities that educational technology has to offer students. Their support of our Kidoyo initiative will ensure that Mineola students come to learn and understand coding, the language of the future.|