Programming since the first year of school

Is the school of today a synonym for frontal, lecturing teaching which pupils do not enjoy very much, except that gained knowledge by itself can represent great pleasure for them?

I'm trying to be a teacher using playing activities, amusing teaching material, modern technology, who will tickle the creative spirit of students and create a motivating atmosphere in the classroom by praise.

By using ICT in teaching students have the opportunity to get basic computer knowledge and then gradually broaden and use it in regular subjects. My students are among the first ones in Serbia who have learnt the first letters, using tablets and interactive primers. This is a system for language learning, combining a playing application and devices sensitive to touch in order that students get to know the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet and remember them more easily.

I often use multimedia-presentations and educational software, Moodle, one of the most popular and most often used systems for electronic learning and Plickers and Kahoot as well, simple but powerful tools helping in the creation of the so-called environment for learning in which students can enjoy more interactivity.

For several years backwards we've been participating in the global campaign “An hour of programming“ within the World and European Weeks of Programming where students learn the first, important lessons which will lead them into the secrets of programming. They have used tutorials “Angry Birds” and “The Birds” and the like, which have been posted on the website www.code. org and through play they have solved the routes and have written codes.

The activities announcing the week of programming have continued in the school where I’ve held an Experimental Class “The programming of Lego Robots”.

Students could see on simple examples how a robot functioned, its parts, how it was programmed and how the change of certain parametres of the programs influenced its operation. At the end of the class videos were shown where more complex operations of a Lego robot were presented with the explanation about the use of that program in practice.

After that, the mastering of the Scratch Programming Language followed, which was adapted to the age of children between 5 and 11 and by which they easily mastered programming steps. Students learnt a logical and algorithmic way of thinking of programmers. They had the opportunity to animate various cartoon characters to dance, jump, run, disappear as ghosts and all other dynamic things as well. They made animated films and they breathed movement into the picture and heroes and they made a short story.

All activities we we’ve realized in the school and in the Centre for Professional Development in Kikinda have been represented in detail on the website of the school
The aim of such classes is that students realize that programming isn’t horrible, that everyone can write at least more simple programs, that they gain basic knowledge from programming in a nice way and that those who choose to do this more seriously have a good basis for expanding their knowledge. This way of learning is interesting to students and the emphasis is placed on a creative problem-related model approach to teaching by the use of computers, by which they get productive knowledge, skills, habits and contributes to the development of logical abilities.  

All of this confirms Tolstoy’s thought that “knowledge becomes knowledge only when it has been gained by the effort of one’s own thought, and not by memory”. Teaching should wake up curiosity in students, inspire inquisitiveness and create people in a relaxed atmosphere, who will be changing the world by their energy and knowledge. It sometimes seems to me that I exaggerate by my optimism and ambitious thinking. If I were at the beginning of my career, I’d look for justification in inexperience and, since I’ve spent half of my working life, this means that I love my job, that I love children and that it’s possible to make school a favourite place for teaching future generations.      

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