School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) has been an innovative leader in advancing learning opportunities in applied design, skills and technology for students from K-12 in the district and increased student engagement and enthusiasm is just one of the many positive outcomes as a result.
At the public board meeting held on April 25, Stephen Whiffin, SD43’s Associate Director of Instruction for Learning and Information Technology, along with Dave Sands, SD43’s Principal of Technology Implementation, and Ron Morwick, Grade 4/5 Teacher at Blakeburn Elementary and District Technology Support Teacher, presented on the ongoing work being done to support technology education programs throughout the entire district.
The presentation included first-hand testimony from three Grade 5 students from Blakeburn Elementary – Mason Stanley, Jack Chapell and Kaplan Chekaluk – who spoke of the opportunities that have been provided to them and the passion they’ve developed since working with projects that have allowed them to utilize their skills in computational thinking, more commonly referred to as “coding.”
The three students spoke about why they felt coding was important for themselves and their peers to learn, why they preferred the Microbit platform compared to all others, and why they want to be able to code.
SD43 has been at the forefront of introducing technology education to the school district, including implementing a coding curriculum with Sphero at the middle school level well before the Ministry of Education made it a requirement of the new curriculum announcement in 2016.
SD43’s coding curriculum has been in the middle school system since 2015-2016. The new B.C. curriculum is expected to be fully phased in and implemented across all school districts in the province over the next 18 months.
Among SD43’s initiatives include assembling a Learning & Information Technology support team consisting of four technology support teachers, a coding support teacher, four coding district lead teachers, as well as ensuring each school has a lead teacher who are mentored by the district leads. Grants received from the Ministry will be utilized towards supporting teacher development.
SD43 has also implemented numerous initiatives in the classroom exposing students from K-12 to all sorts of new technologies including the likes of Office 365, Minecraft, Sphero, Microbit and iPads in large part thanks to continued support from community partners including Finger Food Studios, Lighthouse Labs and Microsoft.
From L to R: Blakeburn Elementary grade 5 students Mason Stanley, Jack Chapell and Kaplan Chekaluk pose with SD43 Board Chair Kerri Palmer Isaak following their involvement in the presentation at the April 25 board meeting.