A Catholic, college-preparatory school, grades 7-12
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Bringing Innovation and Technology to the Classroom

January 23, 2017

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Benilde-St. Margaret’s is constantly looking for ways to enhance and transform the teaching and learning experience. A big part of this transformation has and will continue to be the use of new technology.

This year, an innovative, tech-focused elective was made available to freshman students. The class, Introduction to Coding, has given students the opportunity to learn about and work with computer coding languages and development platforms. Beyond the basic computer science skills and terminology, students focused on two coding languages, Python and HTML, and AGILE Development, a workflow methodology used by many technology businesses.The class enabled both teachers and students to reach beyond the limits of the classroom.

Before writing the curriculum for the class, teacher and class creator Mr. Bill Cheney attended training sessions at Pearson to gain more knowledge of the trending topics in computer science. “I went to the sessions to make sure that I could adapt this work style into the classroom.” He also discovered that while most computer science grads are competent in coding, they lack the teamwork and organization to be successful in a group environment. 

With the first ever semester of the class complete, Mr. Cheney believes the first go at the class was a success. “BSM has always given students classes with real world application, and Introduction to Coding has done a great job of that. BSM helps students develop the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century, and I feel this class is an integral part of that,” shared Cheney.

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“Learning something new almost every day made this class fun. Plus, Mr. Cheney is a great teacher! Not a lot of people have the opportunity to learn what we learned, so it’s a really unique opportunity BSM offers,” said Sarah Houlihan (‘20).

Students not only valued the skills they learned, but they enjoyed the added freedom that came with this class. For final projects, students used one of the coding languages and the other skills they had learned throughout the semester to create something of their choosing. The final projects varied from computer games similar to Pac-Man, a ski simulator, customized websites, a 30 second animation and more.

"Everyone was able to choose what they wanted their final project to be based on what they’ve learned or what their interests are,” student Frankie Lynch explained (‘20).

Students who took the class this past semester enjoyed it so much, they are now pushing for similar classes to be made available. “I have absolutely loved it, and I hope more classes like this will be added to the curriculum,” said Cooper Hanson (‘20). “I even talked to my counselor to see if they could offer a level two version of the course!”

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Red Knight freshman, Mark Platt added, “there should be a class like this in every school and more classes like this here. It’s really important and useful to know, plus it’s cool! We know how to program something and we put a lot of hard work into each project, it's rewarding to see the final project actually work.”

The class has been rewarding for both the students and Mr. Cheney. “The best part of teaching this class has been seeing the 'lightbulb' turn on as students solve problems. These students are so driven to learn this subject. It's so fun for me to see them learn something new and be proud to show it off to their classmates and peers.”

The technology department focuses on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to education technology. BSM believes the integration of technology is valuable across all disciplines and improves the academic excellence of the student experience. The faculty and staff are committed to preparing students to make a difference in an increasingly interconnected world.

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2501 Highway 100 South, St. Louis Park, MN 55416     952-927-4176