Carpenter Students Coding

Students & Coding Take Carpenter Librarian to Ireland
Posted on 10/22/2017
Students & Coding Take Carpenter Librarian to Ireland

Emeline Carpenter Elementary School Librarian Linsey Taylor ended up in Ireland in September because a program that let some of her students instruct soon-to-be teachers from Stephen F. Austin State University how to write computer code.

And that’s not the most remarkable part of the story.

That would be Taylor initiating a computer coding club in the first place (one of several clubs the librarian has going at Carpenter) when she didn’t know anything about it. Taylor learned about the program from a Twitter chat with Texas librarians – something that happens every Tuesday evening – and thought that might work good at her school.

That led to creation of a computer coding club – and students as young as third grade are in the early stages of writing the same code that makes our desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones do their thing.

And that’s just the jobs we know of, Taylor said; it doesn’t take into consideration any of the innovation that will occur by the time many of these students head off for college, six, seven or eight years from now.

Taylor first had the students use a website to get started. Now she’s added more sites as well as apps downloaded to tablets. In those apps and websites, students learn coding the time-honored way… through games.

“It’s very much a self-paced program,” Taylor said last week, while taking a break from a workshop she was attending at Nettie Marshall Elementary School.

It’s not just the high achievers attending coding club during their lunch break, Taylor said. There’s a cross section of children representing the entire campus and learning how to make things move… through code.

When Stephen F. Austin State University professor Dr. Lauren Burrow saw what Taylor was doing at Carpenter, she asked to bring some teachers-in-training for a closer look. Before it was over, the elementary school club members instructed the college students in coding.

Burrow read about Taylor’s club in the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel and thought it the perfect opportunity to show her SFA students her theory in practice, that tech has become a critical part of today’s classroom.

It was Taylor, Burrow said, who came up with the idea of the Carpenter students teaching what they had learned. “Would it be OK if my students taught them,” Taylor had asked.

The connection to the international conference came through the SFA professor’s work. Burrow routinely attends the conference as part of her responsibilities at the university and thought what had taken place would be of interest to other educators.

In Ireland, Taylor and Burrow took part in what’s called a “lightning talk,” a 6 minute, 40-second long instructional lecture that includes 20 slides, which can be up on the screen no more than 20 seconds. The two attended the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement in Galway, Ireland, where they presented “A Reversal of Service-Learning: When young Students Teach Student Teachers”

One of the things Burrow does with her college students is take them into the community for “service learning.” Normally, that means they provide a service to some part of the neighborhood or surrounding area.

This time was different. “The service was [Taylor’s] students giving of their time,” Burrow said.

The idea that public school students had something to offer college kids proved noteworthy after the educators’ talk in Ireland.

“That was one of the reasons we got such a reception at the conference,” Burrow said.

The time limit service to restrict the presentation to only the most essential points. “It really makes you focus on what’s important,” Taylor said.

Their presentation was part of four that took place in one session. Afterwards, the groups took questions, Taylor said.

“That gives you a chance to interact with the speakers,” Burrow said.

Following the meeting, Burrow and Taylor met with instructors eager to hear more.

Taylor also had the opportunity to attend sessions she thought might help her work back here in Nacogdoches.

That included one on understanding how home cultures of students likely differ from that of teachers and how to take that into consideration during instruction time.

“It was my favorite session,” Taylor said.

She learned of a program from a teacher in Australia that sent college students into aboriginal groups in the country, both to understand their culture but to also work with leaders to develop service projects.

Another session provided insight to students’ struggles with poverty and how teachers can overcome that, Taylor said. That included changing mindsets of parents who can’t see the benefit their children working toward a college education, in affect prolonging a cycle of poverty into further generations.

“The poverty hit home because of where [Emeline Carpenter] is at,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the session stressed the importance of showing parents the value of pushing their children to work towards college.

Taylor attended the conference with her husband, Jay, who’s pastor at Stallings Drive Church of Christ in Nacogdoches, and her 14-year-old daughter, Reagan.

 Carpenter Students Coding
Last year, Emeline Carpenter Elementary School students were the ones instructing soon-to-be teachers with Stephen F. Austin State University. The SFA students visited Carpenter’s computer coding club.