ALA Midwinter 2019

Yes, We’re Ready to Code! #alamw19 #ReadytoCode

slowest computer activity
It’s the Slowest Computer in the World!

I’ve gone through many obsessions in my life (knitting, gardening, Pokémon-ing), but currently, I’m all about coding. Coding for littles, middles, and bigs—all of it is fantastically interesting to me. Happily, this year’s Midwinter Conference has had a lot to offer. Today, I attended a really great program led by Claudia Haines of the Homer (AK) Public Library, Paula Langsam of the D.C. Public Library, Juan Rubio of the Seattle Public Library, and Marijke Visser, from the ALA Office of Public Policy who also serves as the Ready to Code Lead.

The first part of this session was devoted to a discussion about some important issues that we as librarians grapple with when introducing computational thinking into our programs. It was really cool to listen to these librarians and teachers and get some insight into how they think about the work that we do. Here are some of the questions that came up:
• What is the relationship between coding and computational thinking?
• Why does it make so much sense for libraries to be in this space?
• What do we contribute to the growth of our young people?
• How can we extend our reach to kids who might not otherwise have these opportunities?

After this discussion, we had a chance to get some hands-on experience and interact with some of the activities that the presenters brought with them. We played with Juan Rubio’s Slowest Computer in the World, learned about Claudia Haines’ station-based robot program for kids between the ages of 3 and 7, and had a chance to try out Paula Langsam’s Teach Me! Shoe Tying activity and pattern recognition card game. That card game was a serious challenge for me, but I felt like I was beginning to catch on! This is a wonderful unplugged activity, and I’m excited to try it with my afterschool kids.

If you haven’t checked out the Libraries Ready to Code website yet, I urge you to do so. They have all kinds of amazing information, including lesson plans and activities, tools for evaluation and assessment, and ways to connect with others who are also embarking on coding adventures. Once the dust settles after Midwinter, you can bet that I’m going to spend lots more time exploring these great resources. I hope you do, too!

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