Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 3
Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: #Teaching, #STEM, Reading Choice + more

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @MattPetronzio + @MariaGuido + @Scholastic + @thomascmurray

JoyOFLearningLogoI've been sharing a variety of articles related to education on my primary Twitter feed, and on my @JoyfulLearners feed (the latter is a sub-set). Four that I wanted to discuss here address encouraging girls (and kids in general, especially minorities) to learn coding, giving kindergarteners more recess time instead of pedal desks, and using classroom read-aloud time to give kids "joyful" experiences. I welcome your feedback on any of these (or other Joy of Learning) topics. 

Really good article: 8 ways you can empower girls to learn coding by

Matt Petronzio: "The lack of women and girls in computer science is a well-documented problem. Now it's time for the average person to finally do something about it. In the 1980s, even when companies primarily marketed personal computers to boys, there was more gender parity in the professional field. About 37% of computer science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women in 1984; that number decreased to 18% in 2014. It's estimated only one in every four schools in the U.S. teaches coding, even though56% of teachers think it should be mandatory....Here are some initial steps you can take to meaningfully advocate for getting girls into computer science in your own community."

Me: This is a solid piece with actionable steps and links to various organizations (like @GirlsWhoCode) that are working on this issue. My daughter's preschool participated in Hour of Code last year, and I was a bit disappointed not to hear anything from her elementary school this year. She loves to work her way through the problems on Code.Org, and I love that she is learning how to think in ways that support coding. It's not that I'm set on her becoming a computer programmer, but I think that a) coding ability can be useful in a lot of contexts; and b) coding teaches you a logical way of thinking, which is useful no matter what you do. 

Breaking the Code: Unleashing the Talents of Girls + Students of Color @thomascmurray @EdSurge  #STEM @GirlsWhoCode

Tom Murray: "Will she (his five year old daughter) remain confident and continue to love her current passions of math, science and technology? Statistics suggest not... Our nation must find ways to engage the amazing talents of our female students and those traditionally underserved—our students of color, not just those in wealthy school districts... The core of the conversation around computer science isn’t about coding. It’s not even about preparing students to be software engineers or “tech workers.” It’s about expanding access and opportunity for all students, empowering them to pursue their passions and unleash their genius."

Me: This opinion piece very much mirrored my own thoughts and fears for my math-loving five-year-old daughter. It's fine with me if she doesn't end up an engineer or a programmer - but it's not fine with me for her to have those options quietly removed from her future path when she is in elementary school. I actually think that her school is likely to do fairly well in this regard, but this is a much larger national issue. 

This is true! Our Kids Don't Need ... Pedal Desks, They Need Recess says at

Marie Guido: "Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves...Like generations before them, kids just need to get out and play. Why are we over-complicating this? At a time when we so sorely need advocates and solutions for vanishing recess in schools, focusing on alternatives that keep kids in the classroom doesn’t seem like the best money or time spent."

Me: My friend Tanita Davis added, in response to my tweet: "Oh, SO TRUE. Sure, a new gadget is fun, but guess what: RECESS IS FREE & widely available!!" I could maybe see pedal desks for older kids, especially kids with ADHD who have trouble staying still during class. But for kindergartners? This is ridiculous. My daughter's favorite time of the kindergarten day is ... wait for it ... recess. As it should be. 

Why Joyful Classroom #ReadAloud Experiences Are Essential for Young Readers by Maria Walther @Scholastic 

Maria Walther: "In this post, I’ll share just a few of the many reasons why (classroom) read aloud is essential in the era of higher standards... (Conclusion:) If we want children to integrate meaning and ideas across texts, they have to have experiences hearing a lot of texts. They need a rich textual lineage—a wealth of reading experiences from which to draw. We are setting ourselves up for failure if we put forth all these grand ideas of voluminous independent complex text reading, but then don’t offer students voluminous, joyful read aloud experiences each and every day."

Me: Obviously this post caught my eye because of Walther's use of the word "joyful". But I do agree with her on the importance of teachers reading aloud in the classroom. I especially liked her point that "read alouds spark big questions and big thinking", and her suggestion that the first question to ask after reading a book aloud is: "What did you notice?". I hope that my daughter's teachers read aloud to her as she progresses through school. Time will tell... 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links.