Computational thinking takes hold – even in the youngest of students – Henry Penfold, UK

Kodu, Minecraft and Skype-a-thons: just three of the many ways that Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Henry Penfold uses technology with his primary school students. Penfold is an enthusiastic proponent of these technologies in his classroom, and he’s not shy about sharing why.

“Their growth mindset and their attitude towards it is fantastic,” he says. “With Kodu particularly, they go, ‘right, I’m going to solve this,’ because it’s quite manageable. With the blocks, they can drag and really see it visually.”

Penfold is passionate about getting students involved in computer science, and he has seen some big changes after just a few short years of bringing ICT into his classroom.

“Computing is so important in society,” he says. “Children have their tablets at home, so they are constantly revolved around computers. Digital literacy is so important for giving them the tools for later on when they’re learning, and later on in life. It’s amazing how much they use that technology. I see, particularly, the practical side.”

And with the computer science now mandated as part of the UK curriculum, Penfold has also noticed a difference in how his students speak on a daily basis. “I hear, ‘Right, I’ve just done some de-bugging…I’m going to tinker this to make it better.’ It’s almost become its own language,” he notes.

As veterans of the recent Skype-a-thon – which was a huge hit in his classroom – trying new technologies is now de rigor in Penfold’s classroom.

“My children absolutely love being able to talk with other people,” he says.  And while their Skype was also in the UK, that didn’t matter. “Just the differences between what Southampton was like and what Wales was like…it’s like a field trip for children that don’t get out as much.”

Next up? “We are hopefully going to Skype someone from Pixar,” says Penfold. “[Skype] makes that thousand miles seem like no distance at all.”

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Henry Penfold!

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