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Critical Thinking Through Coding pilot program inspires student learning

Ten Central New York school districts participated in the CNYRIC’s Critical Thinking Through Coding (CTTC) pilot program during the 2015-2016 school year. For one-month increments, districts received access to a variety of robotic devices, CTTC curriculum, and onsite instructional technology support. The program was used in kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms, but can be adapted for all grade levels.  As a result of the pilot program’s success, CTTC is now available as a CNYRIC service. Districts can customize the service to meet their needs and budgets.

About CTTC
Critical Thinking Through Coding was developed by the CNYRIC's Model Schools Program, led by Instructional Technologists Jason Clark and Nick Lefort. With the recent popularity and success of Hour of Code, the pair identified a need to provide students with enhanced, hands-on critical thinking opportunities focused on computer programing skills. “Students are being asked to think critically, but not always taught how to do so,” said Clark. “Learning how to code with robotics is a great way to introduce students to a new way of thinking. Using robots gives students real world challenges that they won't get from a computer program.”

Following the completion of the pilot CTTC program, educators have seen student improvement in other subject areas. “Learning to solve coding challenges encourages students to persevere through other difficult courses such as mathematics,” said Clark. “Exposing students to computer programming encourages them to think differently and problem solve with the ability to fail and try again.”

CNYRIC expands robotics and coding curriculum offerings
The CNYRIC is pleased to announce it has expanded its CTTC programming. Districts now have the option of purchasing curriculum focused on one robotic platform, Sphero. Sphero is a programmable robotic sphere that can be coded using a variety of devices including  iPads, Chromebooks, and smartphones. “The sphero is cost-effective and durable making it a great investment for school districts looking to expose students to computer programing,” said Clark.

Critical Thinking Through Coding (Sphero - S.T.E.M) features seven collaborative S.T.E.M. activities that are designed to challenge students over a longer period of time compared to the initial 40-60 minute lesson activities found in the original CTTC workbook. Each of the seven activities present students with a design challenge requiring the group to develop a solution, test, troubleshoot, retest, and reflect on their design.  Each activity focuses on problem solving skills for students of all ages. Click here to learn more about the challenges.

Both CTTC curriculum workbooks are designed to empower students to be self-directed learners, enabling the teacher and students to improve their problem solving skills together.  In many of the pilot districts, the teachers and students were introduced to the robots for the first time together.

To learn more about Critical Thinking Through Coding opportunities, please contact Clark at or visit the CTTC webpage.


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