The Power in Programming

Stacy Bullard is a STEM teacher at Forest Acres Elementary in Easley, South Carolina.

All third graders at Forest Acres Elementary are completing Project Lead The Way’s computer science-focused PLTW Launch module Programming Patterns. Students are working collaboratively to create and write algorithms to solve problems. They’re using the Hopscotch app on their iPads for programming. They are also using flowcharts, loops, functions, and variables while breaking bigger problems down into smaller ones in the coding process.

Throughout this computer science-focused module, students are fully engaged in their learning, which keeps them interested and motivated and also builds their confidence. They are eager to come to STEM class each week and cannot wait to find out what they will be learning!

The third grade students enjoy the Programming Patterns module because it allows them to be creative. They create their own tablet game while working in collaborative pairs. They follow the design process, which includes criteria and constraints, all while developing their solution.

Most third graders are familiar with playing computer games, but programming is new to them. Students are thrilled to create interactive games, test the games, and then be able to play their own creations and their classmates’ creations. As the facilitator, I am amazed at how quickly third graders grasp computer programming skills and how eager they are to learn more. I strongly encourage them to step outside of the box with their thinking and to be creative.

In addition to all the other lessons students are taking in, they’ve also been learning about computer programming and software engineering as careers. Through this exploration process, they are able to learn about opportunities that are available to them later in life.

I have received incredible parent support for PLTW. Parents are amazed at the computer science skills their children are learning. Students go home excited to show their parents what they’ve learned and share more about coding. Inquisitive parents have visited the STEM classroom to see their child engaged in the computer science module. Many parents state that their elementary-age children are learning from PLTW the skills and vocabulary they learned much later in life. The parents have encouraged both their children and me.

I love teaching PLTW because the modules are both challenging and relevant. The modules’ activity-, project-, problem-based (ABP) instructional approach keeps students interested and engaged in learning. The third graders at Forest Acres Elementary have definitely been engaged and creative thinkers in the Programming Patterns module!

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.