December 31, 2020

Programming Literacy: What It Is and How Hatch Coding Teaches It

You’re likely familiar with the three R’s in education; ‘reading, writing, and arithmetic’ but have you heard of the fourth R?

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You’re likely familiar with the three R’s in education; ‘reading, writing, and arithmetic’ but have you heard of the fourth R?

Author and Educator, Cathy N. Davidson argues that; “a student today needs a fourth R: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and ‘rithms, as in algorithms, or basic computational skills. By getting the youngest kids started on algorithmic or computational thinking, we give them the same tool of agency to being able to make (not just receive) digital content that the 3 R’s gave to Industrial Age learners.”

Programming Literacy: The Fourth 'R'

Code and computers are central to our daily lives, and programming has undoubtedly become a powerful mode of written communication. Programming literacy is the ability to read, write and modify computer code in order to create or modify software and media channels. So although not everyone will be a programmer, everyone will work with programmers; making programming literacy a must-have skill for almost every profession.

Hatch Coding: Real-World Coding Education

We teach coding like teaching a language. Much like there are many ways to convey a message, there are many ways to approach coding. At Hatch Coding, there are no right or wrong answers, only learning how to master the approach.

We teach full-language programming from the start, allowing kids to learn real-world programming skills from their very first coding project. Many other coding programs teach using a variation of fill-in-the-blank coding. This approach only yields right or wrong answers, the opposite of learning how to communicate using a language. We teach programming literacy in two programming languages: JavaScript and Python.

Hold A Ball: Hatch Coding Beginner Project

Hatch Studio: JavaScript

With our Hatch Studio JS students are presented with a ‘word problem’ and there are specific requirements that are presented for them to learn to solve the problem. These projects are short with usually one to three components (similar to the idea of a paragraph in language arts) and they learn one component at a time (like writing sentences) before they learn to write a ‘full essay’ (many lines of code).

Each of our 600+ projects helps students progress through the 40 learning levels through three coding levels: Type-What-You-See, Pseudocode and English Description.

Type-What-You-See (TWYS): This is the easiest level that students learn at. It’s similar to tracing activities when learning letters, numbers and copying notes. It allows students to observe patterns and draw conclusions when they work through the project challenges. Our project challenges allow students to extend their learning through practicing the components leaned in each project.

For example, in our beginner project, Hold A Ball, students TWYS to colour the ball, black and one of the challenges asks students to change the colour of their ball through researching the RGB colour codes provided in the Hatch Coding’s reference manual RGB colour wheel.

Pseudocode: This is the second hardest level of coding and requires understanding of computational logic and computational thinking. It is written as blocks of code (like a paragraph in an essay) and students need to understand the basic syntax and vocabulary within JavaScript to both create and plan for their project. This level of coding is used in the real-world of the programming industry.

English Description: This is the hardest level of coding and writing and shows a deep understanding of computer programming. For students to reach this level of coding, they must have an understanding of numerous programming skills and have learned many of the competencies within JavaScript.

To see how students are presented with a project (‘word problem’) and what their Hatch Coding dashboard looks like; Try our beginner project: Hold A Ball.

Hatch Studio: Python

With over 400 projects and multiple showcase projects, Hatch Studio Python is designed to have students use mathematics and mathematical reasoning to develop programming literacy geared towards data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. We recommend that students new to learning how to read and write code first start with JavaScript and then move to learning Python once they have a grasp of basic programming concepts.

We teach Python through minor and showcase projects.

Minor Projects: These are shorter projects that draw on higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. Students can practice these skills in smaller chunks with these projects, making them more manageable to successfully complete.

Showcase Projects: Our showcase projects have three levels of difficulty: Easy, Moderate and Hard. These are longer projects where more planning and problem solving skills are required and as students gain proficiency in their skills, they’ll unlock harder showcase projects and gradually progress through our program.

Cathy N. Davidson Quote on Computational Literacy


The Fourth ‘R’: The Future for a Level Playing Field

If all kids have access to learn the fourth ‘R’ - pRogramming - then it can create a more level playing field for opportunities to pursue a profession in programming, regardless of a student’s socio and economic background.

And if there is access for all to learn this skill, then as Cathy N. Davidson points out; “It allows for more diverse participation in the creation (not just the consumption) of the digital culture, as well as the economic, educational, and business products of the 21st century.”

Hatch Coding’s vision is to help create a future where everyone has access to coding education and our mission is to empower students with skills to shape the future through coding education, building core competencies required to program in the real-world.


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