Week of Code: Year Five

Last December marked Burke’s fifth year observing an entire Week of Code. Under the leadership of the Library and Makery Team, Burke’s decided to take Hour of Code, the brainchild of Hadi Partovi, to the next level and has been going strong since 2014.

Hour of Code is an international initiative sponsored by Code.org, a nonprofit organization devoted to opening up computer science to a broader range of users, including women and underrepresented people, through expanding its presence in schools around the world. It’s estimated that nearly 700-million students around the world participated in this year’s Hour of Code.

Many other schools will play along for an hour as they attempt an online tutorial — Minecraft, Star Wars, and the Grinch were among favorites this year. At Burke’s, however, activities took place in a number of locations, including the Makery and in the students’ very own classrooms, over the course of a week. This year’s Week of Code activities included: kindergarteners programming Cubettos — Montessori-inspired robots to move through a course with not a computer in sight; fourth graders coding Kano Pixels — small arrays of LEDs that danced and changed colors in response to students' code; and fifth graders coding Humminbird boards — a board with sensors, lights, and more, that they'll eventually integrate into their Fifth Grade Egyptian History Museum project.

Coding is now integrated into our curriculum and is not just an activity set aside for the first week of December. Mike Matthews, Burke’s Director of Curriculum and Program Innovation, believes that teaching coding and computer science is directly aligned with our mission to Educate, Encourage, and Empower girls. “We’re not teaching code because we expect every student to become a programmer. Rather, we’re teaching code because we believe that in doing so we’re teaching transferable skills like logic and problem-solving that will empower our girls in whatever career path they end up pursuing.”

For those of you who are new to Burke’s or who would like a refresher on how and why we teach coding, please click here.

When discussing coding at Burke’s it’s important to emphasize that the students are not sitting in front of screens for lengthy amounts of time. Some are not in front of screens at all. Mike Matthews explains, “The Hour of Code at Burke's gives our students opportunities to learn, practice, and hone their coding skills through both ‘plugged’ and ‘unplugged’ coding. ‘Plugged’ coding refers to coding that takes place on a tablet or computer, while ‘unplugged' coding involves computer-free games and activities that teach coding-related skills like algorithm development, pattern recognition, logic, and other critical thinking skills. This approach has helped us leverage coding as a tool to support learning in a range of subjects, from Math to World Languages to Art and beyond!. Also, by pairing ‘plugged’ and ‘unplugged’ coding activities, Burke's gives students real-world skills and experiences that they will be able to apply across a range of careers, not just those in coding and computer science.”

The Burke’s approach to coding caught the eye of Code.org’s founder, Hadi Partovi, and in 2016 he visited the school during our Week of Code. Partovi had a film crew in tow and Burke’s appeared in the video “People Power.” Click here to learn more about Partovi’s visit and here to watch the video.

Coding is just another way you can witness Burke’s commitment to educating the whole child and young girls in particular. With age-appropriate games and activities the students are reaching into their problem-solving toolboxes and honing their all too important critical thinking skills. Burke’s continues to expand its coding opportunities for students both during the school day and after and even offers programs after school and during the summer.

For more pictures from this year's Week of Code, click here.
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Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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