DENVILLE, NJ – Carolyn J. Marano, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, Division of Student Services, stopped by Lakeview and Riverview elementary schools on Dec. 7 to observe students on the last day of Hour of CodeTM.
Hour of CodeTM is a weeklong global campaign of Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools. Supported by more than 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide, Hour of CodeTM occurs annually during Computer Science Education Week, an initiative established in 2006 in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, born Dec. 9, 1906. Hour of CodeTM celebrates computer science by offering hundreds of one-hour coding activities in more than 48 languages. The hands-on activities afford students the opportunity to try computer science for one hour. Suitable for computer novices of all ages, the activities can run on desktops, tablets and smartphones. Denville Township Schools has participated in Hour of CodeTM for four years.
During her visit to Lakeview, Commissioner Marano observed a second-grade class in Stacia Rothrock’s computer lab. With guidance from fifth-grade peer leaders as needed, 30 students enthusiastically worked on the Dance Party activity, a fifth-grade-level assignment that teaches them how to create dance animations with code.
“Today, I’m just a fly on the wall. I’m here merely to observe,” said Marano. “I’m happy to say that I’m so impressed; but I knew I would be.”
Representatives from the New Jersey Department of Education, including Commissioner Lamont Repollet, have traveled throughout the state this week to see what the students have been doing. They have and will share their observations in a series of tweets.
“This week we’ve been able to offer 30-35 hours of coding to our students, which includes all grades, first through fifth,” shared Lakeview Vice Principal Evan Scala. “We even offered a night class where Lakeview students and parents coded together.”
Scala explained that Lakeview is trying to build a more computer-literate community. The school’s STEM and computer labs, and programs like Hour of CodeTM help Lakeview achieve that goal. “We’re also fortunate to have Mrs. Rothrock, a dedicated teacher who has classes that cycle through the computer lab.”
Rothrock began her career at Lakeview in 2007 as a fourth-grade general education teacher. A former professional graphic designer, she always incorporated technology into her lessons. So, when the computer lab teacher opportunity became available in 2014, it was a logical fit for her.
Rothrock touted the benefits of Hour of CodeTM. “The program offers free training and resources to educators; the activities are interdisciplinary – I’m still teaching reading, writing and math; and they use high-interest subjects like Minecraft and Disney in their activities.”
As for keeping the students excited and engaged, “That’s easy,” Rothrock shared. “I just tell them to code the game they want to play.”
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