Schools need more coding-savvy teachers

DOE needs more teachers savvy in coding
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Momilani Elementary's Shane Asselstine helps kids learn how to speak computer.

In other words, he teaches them coding.

"Keep in mind that coding also teaches kids logic, sequential thinking, problem solving, taking large tasks and breaking them to smaller tasks and solving those," he said.

The state Department of Education has a shortage of coding-savvy teachers like Asseltine -- a shortage it's trying to address.

That's why Asselstine also teaches teachers. This year, he has held 16 coding workshops and taught about 300 teachers.

"The teachers are coming, the teachers that are taking that initiative to go up there and say, 'I really want to know what this is about,'" he said.

Russel Cheng of DevLeague, a web developer company that also teaches coding to teachers, said students are coming into schools wanting to learn coding and schools just aren't prepared to meet their needs.

"The best way to describe coding is telling a machine what to do," he said. "When we speak to the private schools and also at the public schools, at the high school level there are some coding classes. At the middle school level, little to none."

Asselstine's teacher workshops are free. This year he wants to reach 500 teachers, who will take what they learn back to their classrooms.

"I learned to code a character to move across the screen and do something," 9-year-old Shaheera Kamin said.

"The coolest thing is that we get to work with different digital programs," Momilani fourth-grader Allyson Tamayose said.

The DOE is creating a course for teachers that includes Asselstine's workshop, classroom sessions, and lesson planning that incorporates coding. The department is also putting together an online computer science course for students.

"Every program language out there uses these core concepts." Asselstine said.

President Barack Obama wants all students exposed to computer science before they graduate so they're career ready. Hawaii needs more teachers who can help make it happen.

For more information on Asselstine's workshops, click here.

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