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Q & A with St. Joseph’s Indian School

/Code RED Education

In addition to teaching business and computer science classes at St. Joseph’s Indian School, Gina McManus also serves as the school’s technology coordinator and was instrumental in developing their computer coding initiative. She shares her thoughts after nearly one year with Code RED in her classroom.

Download PDF version of this articleQ: Before your adoption of Code RED, what applications were being used to supplement a computer science and coding curriculum?
A: Before Code RED, my students were using the lessons available through Code.org. Though I liked Code.org, the applications made it difficult to reset or go back to specific lessons. For my new students and students who needed a refresher, this was a problem.

Q: Why was a computer science and coding solution needed for your classroom/school?
A: I felt like we needed to expose our kids to computer programing. It has been such an important topic lately and I think it provides our students with valuable skills and knowledge – especially in this day and age.

Q: What was your initial reaction to Code RED after being introduced to the solution?
A: I really liked how the curriculum was laid out and the ease of the product roll out. Everything I received was tailored to my needs and the needs of my classroom.

Q: What sets Code RED apart from other coding and computer science solutions?
A: I have some understanding of computers from my degree, but that was years and years ago. Computer language has changed quite a bit since then. So, I’ve had to take part in learning alongside my students. Thankfully, the Code RED team has provided lots of support and backup. If I have a question – they are always available to help. Additionally, I found it helpful that the information and lesson plans are laid out day-by-day, step-by-step.

Q: How have your students reacted to the Code RED curriculum? Are there any specific activities or subject areas that they have gravitated toward?
A: We have had a big learning curve in our school, and most have embraced this new curriculum and enjoy the fact that we are all learning this together – myself included.
My younger, 3rd -5th grade kids really liked Lightbot.  It was simple, short, and they could see the results.  My older ones, 6th-8th graders are starting to get into Scratch.  They like the creative outlet it provides them.

Q: Have your students applied the knowledge/skills learned through Code RED toward outside interests or through tech-related competitions?
A: Not at this point.  We are really starting at ground zero in our school, but my hope is that we can reach that point.  My first goal will be an after-school type club.

Q: How have teachers and administrators reacted toward Code RED and your work with the curriculum?
A: Most have been impressed with what our kids have accomplished thus far. Currently, we have been working to program specific motion controls such as a rocket shooting forward. Seeing the students accomplish these tasks has definitely pulled support from teachers and administrators.

Q: In your opinion, what important 21st century skills do you think your students are learning through the Code RED curriculum?
A: The number one thing I hope they are getting is that they can do this!  Our kids come from an area where being a computer programmer is not even thought about. So for me, that is the first hurdle we have to jump.  In this process they are learning about perseverance, higher and critical thinking, and what they are capable of doing in the future.

Q: Opportunities are expanding for students to gain exposure to computer science and critical thinking. With that in mind, how do you think your students will benefit from the long-term use of the Code RED curriculum?
A: I hope they find out that they can do things they have never imagined doing and will see that they can go on to college and become vital citizens in the future.

Q: What would you say to other teachers looking to bring Code RED into their classroom?
A: I would say that Code RED is a good choice – especially for teachers who many not have a deep understanding of CS or coding. I think you can work this into many subject areas. For example, if you’re a science teacher, you can have your students animate mitosis. The possibilities are endless.

About St. Joseph’s Indian School

St. Joseph’s Indian School is a Native American Nonprofit Organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of Lakota Sioux children and families. The school educates and provides housing for more than 200 Lakota Sioux children each year.

About Code RED Education

Code Red Education has developed an industry leading curriculum that teaches elementary through high school students computer science and computer coding.