Daxon: Code for the Future comes to Fanning School

by in News

Brea students head back to classes on Aug. 27, and this school year is beginning with exciting new learning adventures at William M. Fanning Elementary School, 650 N. Apricot Ave., which is now a Computer Science Immersion Magnet School.

What does that mean?

Basically that the entire student body, from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade will be learning via a new computer coding program, Code to the Future.

And as a magnet school, students from both within and outside the Brea Olinda Unified School District may attend Fanning, providing there is room, Fanning principal Theresa Stevens said.

Code to the Future will introduce Fanning’s nearly 500 students to exciting technology and coding-based lessons will be incorporated into their daily instruction and core subjects.

“The coding platform Scratch, a programming language from MIT, provides students opportunities to bring stories to life by coding them into interactive experiences.” Stevens said. She added that students could start with simple sequencing stories and move into more complex “choose your own adventure” stories.

Students will also use block and text-based coding exercises, and will be inspired, for example, to write about their avatars’ adventures. Avatars? Sounds like creative fun.

Scratch will teach the students about programming and understanding math applications and help boost their critical thinking skills. Through the program, said Stevens, students are exposed to linear thinking and problem-solving skills that are necessary for all coding languages.

Students will also use Scratch Jr., Lego Bricks and Lego WeDo to learn coding. They will learn Lego robotics and will develop and write about the robotic characters they create.

Over the summer and continuing into the school year, Fanning’s teaching staff will be professionally trained in teaching Code to the Future. In addition, they will have a coach from the program to help teachers in planning and in the classroom. “We are fortunate,” said Stevens, “to have a teacher on special assignment to support our students and teachers through this implementation.”

Creating projects with Legos, learning coding and programming makes one wonder just how much is Code to the Future like playing computer games. Stevens said it is much more than that. She explained that through Scratch even first- and second-graders learn how to use blocks of commands for making presentations, games or anything they can imagine.

She added that in the third cycle, instead of students building one block at a time, as done when playing a computer game, students will learn how to write code linked to specific commands for their agent to build for them and to move across different platforms.

It allows, said Stevens, students to move from just being game consumers into being game creators.

Also through Scratch students will become familiar with how to simplify complex language into easy to use blocks. It will help prepare them, said Stevens, to transfer their skills into other computer languages, such as Java, if and when they choose to continue through the district’s computer science pathways at Brea Junior High School and at Brea Olinda High School.

Our methods of education are evolving, and it is all to prepare our students for a future of ever-changing technological advances.

Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at daxoncomm@earthlink.net.