Code lovers like us had an early Christmas present in 2017, with news from the NSW Education Standards Authority in December that coding will be part of our primary school children's curriculum from 2019.
Teachers have 2018 to learn, plan and get familiar with the new concepts in the curriculum. Coding professional development will be the new black! Coding falls under the digital technologies learning area, which is part of a new Science and Technologies Syllabus for all students in years K to 6. Alongside learning about the living world, the material world, the physical world and earth and space, students will now learn about digital technologies.
Digital technologies, computational thinking and coding concepts in one subject
This has been a while in the making, with a national curriculum for digital technologies available to teach for several years. On the positive, NSW school teachers can tap into the practical experience gained by teachers interstate. While the NSW curriculum isn't word for word the same as the national curriculum, the key concepts, as you'd expect, are the same.
So what are these concepts? Children from as young as five will start to explore their world through a framework of logical steps and instructions. For example, to boil an egg, you need to take certain steps (water in pot, boil water, egg in water (although others beg to differ on when you put the egg in the water), wait some time, hey presto, cooked egg.) Putting these steps together is referred to as developing an algorithm, and is an important part of a larger concept called computational thinking.
When we hear educators and industry praise the importance of teaching coding, they're often speaking of this larger idea of computational thinking. Coding really is the last step - taking a well- developed set of instructions and providing them to a computer in a way the computer can comprehend. The NSW curriculum covers the whole process of computational thinking, from coming up with a solution to a problem, breaking it down into step by step instructions, and finally building that solution (with coding skills).
Other important concepts you can expect to hear more about include branching and iteration for the older students. In simple terms branching means building decision making into an algorithm (do you want the egg hard boiled or soft?). Iteration, as the name suggests, simply means repeating something (if you've moved on from boiling eggs to making cookies, it could look like something like: repeat 12 times: roll a spoonful of mixture into a ball and place on the baking tray.)
We'll be here in 2018 to point you towards great places to learn more about the new Science and Technologies Syllabus, to unpack the concepts in it, and share tips, resources and lesson ideas. We'll be highlighting great coding professional development opportunities. Let's go!
Find out about Code Rangers upcoming face to face workshops on our teacher page.