Monday, August 10, 2020

Bi-Cultural’s Director of Technology (standing) helps parents Monica Becker and Marilyn Terr build their own websites using coding commands.(Credit: Dora Salm)

At Bi-Cultural Day School, computer coding is an integral part of the digital literacy curriculum throughout the entire year. This year for Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code, which took place during the week of December 5-10, Director of Technology Sarah Hochman wanted to try something different—teaching coding to the parents.


“I planned a course for the parents because I really wanted to make sure that parents got a glimpse into the exciting world of coding for Computer Science Education Week. Our students learn coding in various formats all year long and parents often ask me questions about what their children are learning in coding. This year I thought the adults might want to get a taste of what their kids are learning and how to do some basic coding,” explained Hochman. “As it turns out, I was right—they wanted to learn even more than I ever imagined.”

A group of parents met in the school computer lab during the week to learn the basics of coding and programming with the task of making their own website using basic HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets) commands. Exclamations of “I can’t believe it worked,” “This is truly amazing” and “I feel so empowered,” continually popped up throughout the lesson as parents quickly picked up the concepts of coding, and created their own homegrown websites.

Hochman, who teaches more than 40 computer and digital literacy-related classes throughout the week to all students from pre-k to eighth grade, indicated that teaching adults is somewhat different from teaching young learners in that, “parents are willing to try things and make mistakes, and students are sometimes more cautious and want to get everything right the first time. Part of coding is debugging, which is a hard concept for students to learn. On the other hand, students have grown up with computers and are not afraid to click; parents need to be shown where to click,” Hochman said.

Enhancing the coding curriculum, during the week of Computer Science Education Week, Hochman integrated lessons on digital citizenship, successful online searching strategies and Internet safety and etiquette into her computer classes for her students.

For the parents, the introduction to coding proved to be eye-opening. “It was so exciting getting a chance to learn what the kids are learning in their classes,” said parent Marilyn Terr. “The whole session was so astonishing and empowering to me, and I learned so much in such a short timeframe—I programmed my own website in two languages and am so excited to learn more.”

Hochman believed that her first foray into teaching coding to parents was a success and hopes to offer more classes for adults. “A sure sign that the class really hit home was, by the end of the class, all the parents took out their calendars and started planning our next session.”

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