Learning Programming with the Headmaster

Last May, I met with our headmaster, Gary Krahn, about establishing a more formal coding program for our fourth graders. The exciting news from the meeting was that Dr. Krahn wanted to teach our fourth graders on a regular basis. We discussed some possibilities – whether to use Scratch or go with JavaScript. Dr. Krahn wanted to play with both before deciding what to do. A few weeks later, we met again. The decision was to teach JavaScript using Processing 2. Dr. Krahn would teach twice a week for the entire year!

Well, not all plans work perfectly – for whatever reason, our tech department couldn’t get Processing 2 to download correctly. With one day left before Dr. Krahn was to teach, there was a frantic search for some other application to use. Khan Academy was the choice. The students were quickly set up, we added a link on my web page,  and Dr. Krahn was ready to begin.

Dr. Krahn with the 4th graders

Dr. Krahn with the 4th graders

As Dr. Krahn introduced the lesson, the students listened intently (except for the tired boy in the corner!) and asked lots of questions. Dr. Krahn started with some basics:

  • Background color – Example:  background(181, 85, 85);
  • How to place objects on the screen (x,y axis)

And then the students explored. The first session of 40 minutes went by very quickly, much to the chagrin of the students!



In the next class, fill, strokeweight, and rectangle were introduced. Using an idea from Dr. Ginger Alford, our Director of Computer Science, Dr. Krahn discussed Mondrian paintings and how to create one using coding. This time, we had high school students come in so there were plenty of helpers to go around!

The students are extremely excited about learning coding AND having Dr. Krahn as their instructor. Many have continued working at home – anytime a child is inspired to learn on their own time is thrilling! I can’t wait to see how far they go this year!

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