Educational Services Center Southview Elementary

Students in Mrs. Sweeney’s 2nd grade class at Southview Elementary are learning about one of the most in demand jobs of this generation. According to a recent report, there were 7 million job openings that required some knowledge of coding.

“When you tap into technology, their interest level skyrockets,” Wendy Sweeney, 2nd grade teacher at Southview, said. “There are a lot of skills melding here.”

Students work in pairs and write code that will eventually become an animated story. They have been learning the basics of coding – what it is, how it works and why it’s needed – since December. Now they’re putting all those elements together to create their own story.

Sweeney continued, “They’ve done pretty much everything to this point except adding text bubbles. Now we want them to move characters, change scenes, move objects and add text. We want these characters to be talking to each other. Our goal is to have at least three scenes but some of them may come up with ten scenes, we just won’t know until they finish.”

“We have been talking about the process of coding, algorithms and patterns,” Jen Wallace, media tech integration coordinator, added. “But now that they’re working in teams, we’re getting into the intangibles of the process – debugging, troubleshooting and persevering.”   

Second grader Chance commented as he worked with Evan, “We get to make our guy ride a bike, stop and go and stop and go. Sometimes we make him shrink too.”

Another student, Daisy, said, “We get to code people and name them and make them do things but my favorite thing is the teamwork it takes to get it done.”

Sweeney and Wallace slowly move from group to group, check on progress, answer questions and brainstorm solutions.

“Sometimes, quite honestly, I don’t know the answer,” Sweeney said. “They’re like, why won’t this person keep moving. We’ll try a few things and if that doesn’t work, we’ll ask another student to come over to help us. We usually figure it out but it does take a lot of trial and error at times.”

The classroom is truly buzzing with activity.

“When it comes down to it, we are working with them on how to tell a story. We are using technology to do that, but it’s storytelling. They have to have a problem and a solution. Let’s say, one of their characters, Alice, broke her pencil and she has to go ask her friend, Michael, for a new pencil. These are simple stories but putting them together is a bit more of a complex process. We want them to walk away from this grasping the concept of how coding is used to create and tell a story,” Sweeney concluded.