Patea Area School new entrants to Year 2 teacher Katrina Fraser has seen this first-hand at a workshop, held last month.

The South Taranaki educator flew to Christchurch to be part of the University of Canterbury/NZ Association of Computer, Digital and Information Technology Teacher (NZACDITT) workshop on leading the new digital curriculum in NZ, which was also sponsored by Google.

“This involved leaders from all over New Zealand getting together to learn how to implement the new curriculum effectively in their regions,” Fraser explains.

“A lot of our learning was very practical and involved playing with robots, learning binary and coding animations.”

All NZ children from new entrant age upwards will learn computational thinking as well as how to code and program, and this does not necessarily require the use of devices all the time, Fraser adds.

“Children can learn how to think like a computer using a variety of ‘unplugged’ activities that teach the basics of algorithms and programming.

“The understanding gained from these activities can then be applied to devices later.”

Fraser is now focused on delivering the workshop to staff at Patea Area School, so they feel prepared and confident to deliver the new curriculum to their students.

Staff will be learning in the same hands-on way Fraser and the other workshop attendees learned in Christchurch, and they will leave the session with ideas and activities they can implement in their classrooms, from as early as the next day if they wish. 

Currently, Fraser is implementing a unit of learning on marae with her class, delivered completely through coding.

“New entrants will learn about the concepts of tūrangawaewae and manaakitanga and create animations to demonstrate their understanding,” she says.

“They will also create a model of a marae and code the pōwhiri process, and this will be hands-on and integrated across the curriculum, involving literacy, numeracy, languages, technology and social sciences.”

It is hoped these students will come out of their inquiry with not only knowledge about marae and who they are within their own whānau and community, but also coding skills and a feeling of achievement at being creators of digital content.

“I’m hoping this programme will serve as a model for others about how the new digital curriculum can be implemented across subject areas within a classroom effectively, even with the very youngest of students at school.”

For those teachers who are a little less technologically savvy, the idea of teaching coding and programming can seem a bit overwhelming, Fraser says.

But the reality, however, is not as complicated as it sounds.  

“We’re teaching children to think like a computer and once teachers see for themselves how straightforward this can be I believe any fears will disappear.

It’s also important teachers know the new curriculum is not an ‘add-on’ - rather, it’s learning that can be easily integrated throughout all subject areas.” 

Many of those in the education sector feel they are on the edge of something very new and different, so it is an exciting time to be a teacher, Fraser says.  

“As a nation we’re moving forward to become digital creators and our profession is playing its part to make it happen.”