Stratford School’s 8th Graders to Mentor Preschoolers In Virtual Classroom Storytelling/Coding Project

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Nearly 6,000 students at Stratford School’s 22 different campuses in northern and southern California will participate in a variety of creative learning activities during the 2016 Code.org Hour of Code. Stratford's 2016 effort features a first-ever virtual storytelling/coding project in which 8th grade computer science students from northern California help preschool students from southern California create and animate an original story that they can watch on their iPads.

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Our students are building greater confidence when dealing with complexity, are better able to deal with open ended problems and can communicate and work more effectively with their peers to achieve a common goal.

At Stratford School’s Melrose campus, preschool students in Mr. Silverman’s class are discovering that teamwork, creativity and classroom fun are important components of early childhood learning. Meanwhile, at Stratford’s San Jose Middle School, 8th graders in Mrs. Dastur’s computer science class are preparing to help the preschoolers create an original story they can watch on their iPads.

These two classes will come together December 9 from 1:30 to 2:30 PT in a virtual classroom collaboration, to write and animate a story using the computer coding skills they’re learning as part of Stratford’s unique and balanced STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

This combination of creativity and tech education is all part of Stratford School’s 2016 participation in Code.org’s global Hour of Code event December 5-11. This is just one of many activities across Stratford’s 22 campuses where nearly 6,000 students are participating in a variety of creative and fun learning activities designed to build student confidence, persistence, collaboration and creative problem solving skills. Stratford School was among the first private schools to champion Code.org’s Hour of Code initiative launched four years ago.

“At Stratford, we believe it’s important that our students go beyond just being consumers of technology to becoming creators of the technology tools they use every day,” said Monisha Gupta, Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Stratford School. “As part of our balanced curriculum infused with fine arts and foreign language, we’re teaching our students programming skills starting at age three with tools like Bee-Bots and Dash and Dot robots, and eventually moving them to advanced coding languages. Early on, they’re actually learning how computer code is created. Whether or not they pursue careers in technology, engineering or coding, they learn to logically organize and analyze real life problems to create better solutions,” Gupta adds, “Our students are building greater confidence when dealing with complexity, are better able to deal with open ended problems and can communicate and work more effectively with their peers to achieve a common goal.”

Research shows that learning to code is an essential skill for all students in the 21st century. "Stratford teaches their youngest students how to use technology, so they can begin to understand the possibilities of computers and tablets, going beyond drag-and-drop and swipe-and-scroll,” said Carrie Lynne Draper, Executive Director and STEM Expert at Readiness Learning Associates, which provides consulting services, professional development and educator training around science, technology, engineering and math for schools across the nation. “At Stratford, Hour of Code is more than teaching students how to code. It is a time for all students to experience the tremendous power of technology. Beginning in preschool, its approach enhances children's cognitive and social abilities. Students have multiple opportunities to share their discoveries while acquiring knowledge and may occasionally mentor a particularly curious preschooler. Not every child is going to grow up to be a computer scientist. However, for a student desiring the opportunity to someday create technologies not yet imagined, this is the school that will feed their imagination," concludes Draper.

Educators at Stratford School, across the country, and around the globe, agree that digital literacy is paramount. Like learning a language, teaching the foundation of coding in early childhood education fosters the computational and algorithmic thinking skills children will need for jobs in the 21st century. At Stratford School, this begins in preschool.

ABOUT STRATFORD SCHOOL: Established in 1999, Stratford School is a leading independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. Stratford offers an accelerated curriculum from preschool through eighth grade with an emphasis in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) that incorporates music, physical education, foreign language, and social skills development. Stratford’s goal is to prepare and mentor students for admission to competitive high schools and colleges. All students are provided the necessary tools to excel, and are encouraged to participate actively in leadership, community service, and extracurricular activities. Visit http://www.stratfordschools.com for more information.

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Kathleen Hennessy

Stacy Einck
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