Coding Now Being Taught at New Paltz Elementary Schools
New Paltz Central School District students at Duzine Elementary School and Lenape Elementary School are deepening their understanding of computer science thanks to a new coding program being taught in Grades K-5.
Using an online curriculum developed by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, the young students are able to explore the exciting world of computing at no cost to the District. The courses blend self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all.
Michelle Martoni, the District’s assistant superintendent for educational programs, explained that the courses, which are taught every other week, align with District learning standards and help reinforce concepts and skills taught in other subject areas including math, science, and English language arts.
“This program is providing an opportunity for students to strengthen important skills such as critical thinking and problem solving,” Martoni said. “These are skills that are typically more challenging to develop at a young age.”
“It’s also teaching students to be more independent and helping them build a foundation that will better prepare them for future learning,” added New Paltz Central School District technology director Tracey Shaffer, who has been instrumental in getting the coding program off the ground.
To help kick things off, Grade 2 students at Duzine and Grade 4 students at Lenape took part in Hour of Code, a global campaign designed to help demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. During the activity on December 10 and 11, students from Joseph Haas’ computer science classes at New Paltz High School visited the computer labs to work with the younger learners on various coding activities.
“It was great to see the interaction between the older students and the younger students,” Duzine Principal Debra Hogencamp said of the event. “The excitement was felt throughout the whole school.”
Coding is considered a pilot program right now, but based on the reaction of the students and teachers, Martoni is hopeful that it will continue next year and possibly expand to the Middle School.
“We’re all very impressed with the program so far and the best part is, there is no additional cost. We’re simply taking advantage of existing resources,” she said.