You are here

Teaching Coding in K-12 Schools

Therese Keane, Andrew E. Fluck (eds.)
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Deborah Gochenaur
, on
The authors strive to support the idea of moving students from consumers of computers and computer programs to producers of programs and software for computers, typically via coding. The chapters investigate computer programming, coding, and computational thinking and how students can be moved into the realm of producers, ensuring that the idea of problem-solving and breaking problems down into parts is age-appropriate. Some chapter authors argue that the intellectual load for programming is too much and that the focus should be on computational thinking while others focus on gender and the fact that fewer women choose to pursue degrees in computer science. 
This volume is separated into three sections, dividing the material by grade band with the secondary or high school portion filling over half the volume. The early childhood section, Part I, focuses on computational thinking and problem-solving as these young students work to solve problems, discuss differences in solutions, and learn from each other. Each chapter emphasizes the need for well-developed questions and tasks that are age-appropriate, with several chapters describing work with educational robots in helping these young children learn to program, i.e. give directions, discussed in several chapters. 
Part II, Elementary/Primary School, focuses on incorporating the work into the existing curriculum. Chapters spotlight work being done in the classroom, outside the classroom as a club, and competitions. There is also a chapter that describes how these efforts are used with students with learning differences who are given the opportunity to show their learning growth in new ways. In some chapters the focus is on giving students tasks without the prior coding instruction; students are given a well-structured problem and then they determine what they want to happen and how they believe it should work; at that point they are given the necessary coding skills. I found these chapters to be most enlightening!
The final section chapters, Part III Secondary/High School, discusses software and web-based options, including VR programming. There is a focus on the complexity of the tasks which are often major challenges for non-computer science teachers. Others discuss professional development for teachers and the need to tie the activities to the curriculum. For students having difficulty with advanced levels of programming it is recommended that relevant programming tools and computational thinking frameworks be utilized. 
Bottom Line: This volume, of interest to educators and teacher educators, provides wonderful examples of how coding, programming and computational thinking can be taught as well as recommendations for tools to be used in the process. The focus is on building reflective teaching practices while scaffolding students’ understanding with age-appropriate lessons. More importantly, it can be used as a conversation starter on the development of computational thinking and the gender discrepancies in the computer science field, in general. It should be noted that all chapters in this volume went through a double-blind process to ensure the quality of the content. 
Dr. Deborah Gochenaur is an Associate Professor at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Mathematics from Penn State Harrisburg and a M.S. in Mathematics from Shippensburg University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education for American University. She is an active member of mathematics and mathematics education organizations, serving on state and national committees.