In this episode of the Pearson English Podcast, the panel talks to writer and editor Rhiannon Ball about the coding mindset and how to convey it. Let’s examine their views on this innovative mindset and how we can introduce it into the classroom.
Listen to The Coding Mindset podcast.
What is the coding mindset?
In the past ten years, the ELT industry has placed more emphasis on soft skills. The focus was on the development of personal leadership skills, creativity, problem-solving and teamwork skills as well as communication and collaboration skills. All of these are essential skills for the future of work – and especially useful when students need to work better together and solve unexpected problems.
A coding mindset in particular encourages students to develop these important soft skills – and to practice them like a programmer. Teachers can use classroom activities and assignments based on this mindset to help students develop strategies for analyzing, understanding, and solving problems.
Rhiannon explains that this is an integral part of computational thinking, and how computer programmers think when coding.
However, she emphasizes that the mindset of programming is a mindset. It has no direct relation to computer science. Rather, it follows the skills and mentality that programmers and programmers use in their work. She believes that following this mindset will help learners become more resilient and accomplished when faced with challenges in their learning or daily life.
4 advantages of The Coding Mindset
Rhiannon points out a number of advantages in developing this mindset.
1. Acquire creativity skills
A great benefit of this way of thinking is that it helps students understand that not everything they try works out the way they expect it to. In fact, it’s normal to fail multiple times when trying to solve problems.
In finding new strategies for overcoming challenges, students also develop their creativity.
Creativity was once synonymous with art like drawing or painting. However, this now means developing new ideas and is a skill that is particularly in demand by employers.
2. Learn to deal with difficult times
We live in a world where we are constantly changing – and we need to be able to find ways to manage it. She says that programming mindset teaches learners how to build resilience.
By communicating openly with others, evaluating ideas, and discussing a range of options, students can overcome uncertainties and face challenges.
This not only helps the students with stumbling blocks in learning, but also in everyday life.
3. Create risk takers
Rhiannon recognizes that learning English is not easy and that students can make mistakes.
However, a programming mentality encourages students to take risks when approaching difficulties. It also helps language learners spot their mistakes and experiment with different options to find solutions.
Ultimately, the willingness of learners to take risks increases, which they must take to achieve a higher level of performance.
4. Develop the ability to overcome obstacles
When approaching a task with a coding mindset, students learn to focus on the important information. They filter out all irrelevant details and find ways to bypass barriers.
For example, when learners have to write a text about their last vacation in class, they could hit a wall if they don’t know how to use Condition 3 to explain something. Instead of giving up, students with a programming mentality would use the grammar they know to solve the problem. For example, they can go on to the past simple or past continuous and explain their story in other ways.
This encourages learners to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses in order to overcome obstacles and move on.
Practical activities for use in class
Rhiannon shares a number of activities that teachers can use in the classroom to develop the mindset of programming for their students. These include:
If you are teaching in a classroom with a whiteboard, you can draw a series of colored circles on the blackboard. The colors should follow a pattern that the students work out in small groups and then continue on the board.
This simple exercise can be adapted for all levels and ages. You may even want to use index cards with vocabulary, letters, or combinations of numbers.
A great way to develop troubleshooting and problem-solving skills is to ask students to guide each other around the classroom. Put the learners in pairs and ask one of them to give directions and follow the others.
You can practice imperative and instructional language as you break problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Creating treasure hunts works especially well with young learners. If you have access to an outside space, you can hide lesson items or flashcards in the room and give students clues on where to find them.
You can also do this in the classroom or school if you don’t have access to the outdoors. This will help them think systematically and follow instructions.
Pixelation of images
If you have access to an interactive whiteboard, you can also develop problem-solving skills by selecting some images from the internet and blurring them with a pixelation tool.
Select vocabulary that you worked on in class so that students are already familiar with the topic. Display the pictures on the whiteboard and ask students to work in groups to guess what the pictures are.
Rhiannon Ball recently contributed to the Experiences Coding Mindset project. You can find them on LinkedIn and listen to the podcast to learn more.