Increasingly, we are integrating technology into our curriculum, but we are also advancing technology as a subject. Computer literacy (digital instruction) is enriched with training in coding. In Montessori, the children practice Micro Worlds in which they command a little turtle to follow their instructions, actually programming it. Later on they learn strategies such as sequencing, loops, conditional statements, spatial concepts, with unplugged activities (like finding loops in a song’s structure) and plugged ones (apps and computer games). Students follow a test-and-learn approach: understand the problem, make a plan, test the plan, and learn.
Making mistakes is part of the journey to the right answer.
In middle school, an online tool teaches coding by blocks. Students use important elements of computational thinking: decomposing the problem and finding patterns to finally create a correct algorithm. They become acquainted with coding terminology (such as variables, conditionals, loops, debugging, functions, parameters) and programming tools, developing logic exercises that allow them to understand that they can find a better approach to solving everyday problems.
By now, they have become responsible digital citizens.
It culminates in high school with a coding elective course based on a tool created by Stanford University TA’s (teaching assistants). Students discover a future in programming and can start looking into a computer science career. By the year 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computer programming jobs available in the United States, but less than 400,000 computer science students to fill these jobs.
We also encourage coding through co-curricular activities such as the Hour of Code not only with students, but also with their families. We implemented Girl’s Day of Code to encourage more participation by the young girls. In a successful Minecraft Camp during break, students, families and friends joyfully applied coding principles through the game.
Computer science is now part of our core curriculum.