John Oliver is one of four schools in Canada who currently has a partnership with the Microsoft TEALS program. This is a program where Computer Scientists from the community come into to the classroom to help teach coding to students. We currently have a team of four volunteers who work in the Computer Science industry at various companies such as, Microsoft, SAP, and Electronic Arts. The volunteers work with Ms Ink, our Information Technology teacher, to teach an introduction to Python unit over the course of 2.5 months. Students start by learning about different data types, how to use variables, and casting to create a simple Mad Libs program. By the end, students are able to use functions, while loops, lists, booleans, and conditionals to create a fully functioning text-based adventure game program.
Next school year, we plan on continuing to teach our introduction to Python unit to our new students. As well, we will be teaching an intermediate Python unit to all the students who learned the introductory Python unit this year. The following year, we hope to teach Java and/or C++ to our senior students.
Learning from people who are currently in the Computer Science field has been an incredible experience for students. They are able to see how coding has real life application right before their eyes, as the volunteers connect the content to what they do at work on a daily basis. It also gives students a chance to see their classroom teacher work with and learn from the volunteers as well, showing that ANYONE can be a life-long learner.
Here are some testimonials from our JO Mini School students about working with the TEALS volunteers:
“My learning experience was great with the TEALS volunteers. Learning from a coder who does this as their career was awesome.”
“I liked that they [the TEALS volunteers] let us work and then ask questions because this allowed us to try our best to do as much as we can and then get help and actually learn it properly”
“They [the TEALS volunteers] were very nice and patient with us, even if we did ask repeated questions or nothing at all. The Cross Canada game was also fun and I really liked the challenge.”
“The fun but instructive approach they [the TEALS volunteers] used to teach us was very effective as they were not forcing us to memorize the material, rather they helped us understand it.”
“They [the TEALS volunteers] were good at explaining how to use the code and wanted us to succeed. They were nice people and were always willing to help when someone was confused.”
Madan, one of our TEALS volunteers from SAP, teaching the class about lists.
Patrick (writing on the board), one of our TEALS volunteers from Electronic Arts.