Building Confidence & Engaging All Learning Styles

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Pike Township Middle School

The Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, a large urban school district in Indianapolis, Indiana, was in search of a way to further engage middle schoolers in STEM education, specifically around computer science. Without a dedicated computer science educator, they sought a solution that would allow their existing staff to lead students through the curriculum. Furthermore, they needed a curriculum that would engage students who had little-to-no experience with computer science. 

MSD Pike Township chose the Codelicious curriculum for a few reasons: customization of curriculum, emphasis on building foundational skills, and engagement of multiple learning styles. “A teacher is boring as heck,” Mr. Reyes, an ESL teacher who taught the Codelicious curriculum pointed out, “But your cell phone is fun as heck. If you can make your teaching seem like a cell phone, you are on to it.” The four pillars of engagement that the Codelicious curriculum is built upon, made it easy for Mr. Reyes to engage his students by linking his Computer Science lessons to things the students experience in everyday life.

A 2016 study from Stanford University found that students are better able to absorb core concepts through engaged learning because they are more active in the learning process. In fact, research shows that failure rates in engaged-learning classes were typically 50% lower than in traditional lectures—particularly among women and minorities.

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Codelicious uses project-based learning and four distinct pillars of engagement —Coding, Hardware, Unplugged, and Digital Citizenship—to provide educators with opportunities to reach students of all learning styles. This model of teaching emphasizes learning through engagement, interaction, and collaboration providing for a deeper understanding of core concepts. Mr. Reyes saw the value right away, “In an urban setting if you learn the language of coding, could you imagine the freedom that some of these kids would have?” 

Mr. Reyes’s success can be seen in the engagement of his students and in the student outcomes. On average, students scored 84% on the course post-assessment. It wasn’t just a success by the numbers -- Mr. Reyes saw it in the student’s behavior, too. “So many of the students are so into it it’s amazing.” He noted a big difference in two young women who often struggled in school, “[They] came in and they had no idea on anything. They had no prior knowledge, and now they are the ones who are answering the questions and helping me with what comes next.”

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Mr. Reyes looks forward to using the curriculum again, and engaging even more students, claiming, “I think this should be in every school.”