Okay, it's mostly brag. When I was asked to take over the computer class, I wanted to make sure it was a class - with real projects of value. I didn't want students to sit in the lab and play games that were sort of education based. I wanted them to develop real technological skills that could move them ahead. You see, most of students start out behind. They say that by the age of four children in poverty have been exposed to four million fewer words than those not born in poverty. Four million less. Children born into poverty come to their first years of school with fewer background skills than their peers: the alphabet, opposites, counting , letter sounds, and other preschool skills haven't been learned.
So I thought, "Let them be ahead on this one thing: let their tech skills be impressive." Our second graders can log onto their chrome books - keep in mind their username involves their first and last names and all that comes with a web address. They can do it. Our third graders can create slide decks - inserting pictures, and sharing with each other. They can screen shot and take pictures on their laptops. My 4th,5th and 6th graders have learned Java Script, HTML and CSS - not the kid version of these programming languages but the real thing.
"If I took this in high school, this is what they'd teach me?" One of my fourth graders asked.
"Yes." I told him. "It's HTML. There's no kid version. You either can write the lines of code or you can't."
"Huh." He said. "It's not real hard. You just got have the right tag to tell the computer what to do."
"Computers are our slaves." His buddy agreed. "We tell them what to do."
You should see their webpages, too. I mean they aren't fancy, but they are learning to add style - color, images, and links. I can't figure out why so many kids coding websites stick to fake coding - where kids just drag and drop in prewritten chunks of code to make a character move. My students do that to goof around, but when it comes time to work, they learn the language of the computer.
Of course, two months ago I didn't know HTML or CSS. I learned the beginning steps, and being me, I jumped all in - dragging my students with me. I've got some super stars who've taken to it like it was the first language of their hearts. "It make sense." A fourth grade girl explained. "Everything has a spot." It is just a matter of time until they pass me by and start teaching me. I look forward to it, too. I can't wait for what new things they'll teach me.
And it always, always makes me wish I knew more; if they can learn this much, this quickly when they are 9 from a novice like me - imagine what they could do with a true master! I suppose that's why I keep working on the weekends and evenings - to learn more - to stretch my hand out the farthest I can reach - so they can stretch eve farther.
"That's why we hustle hella hard, never celebrate a holiday. That'll be the day I could finally hit the lottery. I refuse to ever lose or throw my shot away or chalk it up to just another one that got away. I'm unapollagetic. I'm on my calisthenics. If I've given it all I've got I cannot regret it. My point of destination is different from where I was headed. 'Cause I'm gonna shot for the stars to get it." (The Roots - The Hamilton Mixtape)