Adapting to a post-pandemic world has caused major disruptions in education, including learning gaps in literacy, reading comprehension, and other areas. Many schools are also experiencing increased behavioral issues due to underdeveloped social, computational thinking, and problem solving skills. While I don’t have a magical solution to all the issues burdening educators today, I do know what I would try if I was back in my 4th grade English Language Arts (ELA) classroom.
It wouldn’t be more reading passages.
As I look back on student learning gaps in reading and writing, I wish I would have thrown at least one less reading passage or writing prompt at my 10 year olds. Yes, I taught the passages in creative ways and tried to pick interesting topics, but in the end, it was more of the same.
Leaving the classroom has given me a different perspective. I am able to slow down and reflect on all the things I wish I would have done as an elementary ELA teacher, and the things I am so glad I tried.
If I were to go back into my 4th grade ELA classroom, I would focus more on teaching ELA through STEAM and coding.
Would it have improved their test scores? Probably. Would it have better prepared them for success (both academically and professionally). Absolutely, yes.
Teaching ELA through STEAM and coding lessons would have taught my elementary students to approach learning in different ways, and I think it would have given them a different point of view for analyzing text and writing prompts.
Research is now showing that explicitly teaching computational thinking through coding benefits core content areas. However, classroom time is precious, and using instructional time to try something different can be scary.
Sometimes I wish I would have taken more chances with the “what ifs”.
What if I reviewed a few reading skills during science and incorporated computational thinking?
What if incorporating STEAM and coding allowed my students to work through problems in new ways and those computational thinking skills transferred to my everyday classroom?
I might have found my students were happier, stronger problem solvers, and better readers and writers too. All I know is that 1 more reading passage didn’t make a difference. A new approach, like teaching ELA with STEAM and coding, just might.
Shaunda Douglas is a former educator with over 15 years of experience in all levels of education. In her free time, she reads, plays with her dogs, watches baseball, and loves a good nap.