Coding in the Classroom – Collaborating, Learning and Sharing: Coding in SNCDSB

Written By: Sarah Clowes

Project Overview

During the 2021-2022 school year, St. Joseph Catholic School explored how 21st-century learning tools can support the delivery of the new Ontario Mathematics curriculum. Nicole Fauvelle, the project lead, worked with classroom educators in Grades 1 through 6 to identify specific Mathematics and Science and Technology learning goals and curriculum expectations to deliver engaging lessons using 21st Century learning tools. The Technology Enabled Learning Teacher with Superior North Catholic District School Board (SNCDSB), Sarah Clowes, who is now an administrator in the board, supported the school team with planning lessons and learning how to use these tools.

The project was made possible with the support of the Learning and Innovation Fund (LIFT) supplied by the Ontario Ministry of Education. LIFT funding is intended to support teacher collaboration, learning and sharing of best practices within schools and across the board and has been designated to boards to support changes in teacher practices, behaviour and/or attitudes so as to result in improved student learning and engagement. 

The team had the opportunity to connect with Lisa Anne Floyd, who was looking to create useful resources for Ontario educators to share on TVO Coding in the Classroom Site, related to coding. The team had already discussed using Scratch and Makey Makey and so upon connecting with Lisa Anne, she shared some recommendations and guidance for a lesson sequence. These resources have been shared throughout this article. The lessons highlight expectations within the Spatial Sense strand, as well as the coding expectations in the Algebra strand in mathematics.  Students explore the attributes of 2D shapes, including angles, sides and vertices through coding in Scratch with Makey Makey.  

The project continued throughout the school year and included learning tools such as Squishy Circuits, Dash robotics and Makey Makey. Students were engaged in learning with 21st-century tools while developing their global competencies. A special thank you to Nicole for spearheading the project and Lisa Anne Floyd for sharing her ideas,- her collaboration with SNCDSB is greatly appreciated.

We’ve shared highlights and descriptions of the class activities and experiences below.

Student Voice – Quotes from our Student Participants

“It was fun, I like the step [activity].” – Preston C.

“I liked the sound one.” – Kyannah C. 

“It was so much fun. I liked that she taught us fun stuff.” – Brendan C. 

“I really liked it. It was fun!” Jayden L. 

“I really liked it because I like technology and I like coding.” Rozlyn M. 

Grade 3 and 4 Focus: Timeline and Resources for Scratch, Makey Makey and 2D Shapes Lesson Sequence

For this part of the project, the focus was on learning in grades 3 and 4.

The team met regularly to discuss lesson ideas, expectations and to collaborate and learn together to confidently facilitate lessons while addressing the coding expectations in the Mathematics curriculum. Part of the team learning and lesson facilitating is shared below. 

1 – Create teacher account, explore the Makey Makey and basic code

2 – Work with students to write code for basic shapes, while connecting to vertices, side lengths and angles. Here’s a lesson outline, complete with curriculum connections and sample assessment questions provided by Lisa Anne. 

Below, you can see images of the first spatial sense lesson in action!

3 – Work through Consolidation questions with students – This slide deck includes sample assessment questions to be explored with students. Students worked with pencil and paper to work through the questions in groups, as pictured below. The teachers were able to circulate and pose additional questions and challenges to students. It was a great way to check for student understanding of coding and spatial sense expectations.

4 – Facilitate a lesson related to the X-Y Coordinate Grid to code a shape using Scratch and Makey Makey, including incorporating this Lesson from the Makey Makey website.

Next Steps:

SNCDSB will continue our journey to support learning within the Mathematics curriculum as well as the more recently released Science and Technology curriculum, which also includes coding. We plan on exploring the many freely available lessons that can be found on the TVO Learn website including this one that experiments with coding and skip counting in grade 3, as well as this Grade 4 Food Chain activity

We’d love to connect and share with other boards about our coding journey!

About Superior North Catholic District School Board 

Superior North Catholic District School Board (SNCDSB) is one of the smallest and most northern school boards in Ontario, located north of Lake Superior. The kindergarten to grade 8 school board spans over 14,000 square kilometers and requires 5 hours to drive from border to border. There are eight physical schools with approximately 650 in-class students, and 35 students learning remotely. The board employs approximately 81 OECTA members including two leads who support all schools and system initiatives. Technology has been vital in supporting equity in education within this large geographical area, yet small student-body school board. St. Joseph Catholic School is one of the most remote schools in the district with many students identifying as Indigenous.

Bio for Sarah Clowes

Sarah Clowes is currently the Vice Principal at St Edward Catholic School with system responsibilities including Technology and Experiential Learning for Superior North Catholic District School Board. Sarah completed her Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University and Masters of Education Degree from Charles Sturt. She is a Level One and Level Two certified Google Educator and a dedicated lifelong learner. 

Sarah thrives when working with educators in the classroom to challenge students’ thinking through the effective use of technology. She has observed student learning and engagement through the implementation of 21st-century learning tools. 

Sarah is a dedicated wife and mother of two teenage daughters. She loves to run and be in the outdoors, especially taking her dog Rosie for walks. Hiking, fishing, downhill skiing and travelling are some of her favourite hobbies. 

Bio for Nicole Fauvelle

Nicole Fauvelle has been working in various positions within the Superior North Catholic District School Board since 2010. Nicole also took a year away to teach in the Middle East. During the 2021-2022 school year, she had the privilege of working at Saint Joseph School in the School Support position and is now teaching Full Day Kindergarten. Nicole obtained her Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University and has ambitions to one day receive her Masters. 

Last year, Nicole implemented a Computer Science Club at her school for the students to enjoy. Various grade levels have been exploring coding, robotics, and other 21st-Century learning tools available. 

In her free time, Nicole enjoys singing, crafting and travelling. 

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