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A Day in the Classroom with the MSU CODERS

On Friday, September 24, 2021, a team of CODERS packed 10 kits with science and coding material to bring to Freedom Elementary in Saint Robert's, Missouri. Ms. Yolanda Salas, a Missouri State University alumni from the College of Education, opened her classroom to the CODERS MSU Project to collaborate during the school year 2021-2022. Students were ready for the MSU team to visit, observe, co-teach, and learn what Ms. Salas has been implementing in her class after the Professional Development workshop the university offered this past 2021 summer. The CODERS workshop focused on pedagogical strategies to teach and learn with a hands-on integrative approach. "One of the activities I enjoyed the most while taking the workshop was free writing every day", stated Ms. Salas. When the school year began, she had journals for her fourth graders. They have been free writing every day as part of their daily routine now. She has incremented a minute every week and hopes her students are able to continue to write ten minutes as a metacognitive activity to improve their overall learning goals.

The Missouri State University CODERS team co-taught with Ms. Salas a lesson on coding and writing. Students were introduced to the basic foundations of the coding concept. They wrote directions, orders, and conditional precepts with "If" and "Then" in order to understand elementary principles of informatics. Students had fun designing "orders" for the MSU team to perform, some including dancing, jumping jacks, or doing the Macarena dance. Students then were introduced to the beginning of Scratch programming. Ms. Salas had previously created the setup fourth graders needed to access the software in their Chromebook. As students navigated the program, they became engaged in creating their characters, choosing their scenarios or backgrounds, and dragging and dropping directions and conditionals to bring their illustrations to life.

Students took what they recognise as "brain-break" consisting of group guided dancing. They were delighted to have the MSU professors be a part of this activity. This lesson ended with a 3-2-1 exit card with formative assessment prompts. Popular answers were that fourth graders enjoyed the visit overall, many others indicated they “…loved learning to code and make their own games in the computer…”, others mentioned they also “…had fun dancing together…”, and the majority asked when the crew was coming back. "My classes might not all go perfect all the time, but students know we care and that motivates them". She is also appreciative of the opportunity her class has to access creative content that will increase their overall learning skills.

The MSU CODERS team will continue to visit schools in Missouri to observe, co-teach and learn more on STEAM integrative approaches from students and teachers in the area.

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