Livingston County teacher hopes that after school coding program will open doors for students

11/24/2016 10:30 AM

SMITHLAND – A Livingston County elementary school teacher is hoping that an after-school computer coding program will allow students, at an early age, to learn the basics of computer programming in an effort to bolster rewarding careers for students.

Cindy Kennedy is a special education teacher at South Livingston Elementary, who got the idea a year ago to begin an after-school coding program one day a week for students in grades 3 thru 5, since there was little time to teach the subject during the regular school day.

The first thing Kennedy had to do was come up with a curriculum which worked best for students in that age range.

“It looked like the best fit for us was to go to Google CS First because the kids could actually work at their own pace even though there are very detailed lesson plans, that, thankfully, you don’t have to know anything about coding to implement,” Kennedy said.

“The sessions allow students to watch instructional videos before working, at their own pace, on their own coding projects.

“Once we get them a user name and a log in, and they can access the videos which do the teaching on the Google CS First site, they’ll see something that’s really neat and I’ll say, OK, I don’t mind you playing that as long as you click on that little button that says see inside,” Kennedy said.

Because the district is 90 percent free and reduced lunch, Kennedy was able to secure 30 free headphones, workbooks and lesson plans from Google.

Ultimately, her goal is have the kids learn coding and get their parents interested in it as well so that they can improve their job situation, and eventually attract some high tech companies to the economically depressed county.

Kennedy believes that Livingston County is in a perfect location to attract high tech businesses if they can provide an educated workforce because of the recreational opportunities with the rivers and lakes in the region.

Kennedy spoke about her work at this summer’s College and Career Ready Summit, hosted by Murray State University’s College of Education and Human Services in a session titled, “Teaching Kids to Code, Even If You Can’t Code.”

After the session, she said that a number of teachers came up to her and said that they were going to work at starting their own coding program.


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