A New Model for Coding in Schools

Erica is the communications manager at Digital Promise. You can reach her on Twitter at @EricaLawton.

[For the past three years I’ve worked with the South Fayette School District on a consulting basis. I help to coordinate a Summer Institute for Educators that focuses on computational thinking skills. I’ve also served as an outreach coordinator to work with an urban and rural school demonstrate how the South Fayette model scales to other institutions with different student populations. ]

“It happened one fateful rainy day” sounds more like the start of a romantic comedy than that of an ed-tech transformation. But in South Fayette Township School District, Pa., that’s how an after-school program for technology and arts eventually became a national model for incorporating computational thinking into a K-12 curriculum.

Computational thinking is typically associated with coding and computer programming, but it’s also more than that, involving “solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior,” according to Carnegie Mellon University.

These are important skills in a technology-driven world, whether you want to become a programmer or not. Many schools around the country offer after-school programs or electives for students interested in computational thinking. In South Fayette, a suburban and rural district of 2,700 students near Pittsburgh, it’s woven into the district culture, as well as the core curriculum at every grade level.

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