Huong Nguyen is a teacher at Our Lady of the Way Primary School in Kingsbury, Victoria. She teaches grades four, five and six in a shared learning space with 51 students. Her role is primarily digital technologies where she assists her colleagues to plan for the effective use of tech to prepare students for the demands of an ever-changing world.
“Since becoming a teacher, I’ve learnt so much about my creative potential that I didn’t know existed. I get to feed my inner creativity. I’ve also learnt that I am proficient with the use of technology and I love to use technology in the classroom to enhance the learning, get more students engaged, improve collaboration, and most importantly make learning fun!,” Huong said.
“I want to encourage a love of technology in the students and help them develop their key skills to prepare them for a technologically-minded workforce. When I teach, I teach beyond the textbooks. I teach my kids how to deal with their emotions and how to problem solve. I teach them how to be independent and organised in life.”
Huong took part in a recent SheHacks where she enrolled herself as a Hustler, reasoning that she didn’t have the skills to be a Hacker or a Hipster.
“Hustling isn’t my thing but I thought this is an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and have a go at something to challenge my mind.”
She experienced an intense two days where her team eventually came up with the idea of creating an app ‘CONNECT-TO-BUILD’ that would allow property owners to access the equity in their property investments.
At SheHacks, Huong learnt how to think strategically about how to set up untouched areas of the economy, as well as the power of working in teams to make things happen.
“Anyone with a great idea and even greater plans can make it big. If you have an idea, explore it. No matter how grand or successful you are, everyone started from humble beginnings.”
When Huong heard about #MissMakesCode, she decided to make it happen at her school.
“We’d been focussing on developing our STEM Program this year and develop our coding skills as we begin to introduce this into our curriculum. As part of this, we were happy to have Helen from Girl Geek Academy come out to our school to run the #MissMakesCode workshop for our Prep to grade two girls because I was so impressed with the in-person training that I attended back in June.
Next, Huong attended the #MissMakesCode workshop for teachers because she wanted to teach coding to her students but wasn’t sure how to or where to begin.
“Girl Geek Academy offered a professional development workshop that addresses the Digital Technologies Curriculum outcomes for P – 2. The session I attended was very informative, interactive, hands-on, productive and highly enjoyable. It was great to have time for some playful learning as teachers don’t normally get time to explore before they teach it,” Huong said.
“After the session, I wanted to bring what I learnt back to my school and train up my colleagues to give them the confidence to implement this curriculum in their own classrooms. I’ve run some workshops at staff meetings to run them through the online training course which takes you through everything you need to bring #MissMakesCode into your classroom. The online training provides practical examples and resources, making it very easy for teachers to roll the program out in their own classrooms.”
Huong has already started teaching her students and said they are loving the classes.
“It is so great to hear the conversation going on between the students as they are working through the courses. They are using words like ‘code block’, ‘order’, ‘sequence’ and ‘debugging’. Some students are moving through the levelled courses quicker than others but they are happy to assist each other. Others want to work alone and keep persisting and working through the problems at their own pace,” Huong said.
Huong has set aside an hour of code each week; something the students look forward to.
“The Angry Birds course perfectly fits in with our maths topic: Location and Transformation. It’s definitely a bonus when we can integrate coding into other areas of our curriculum.
Huong believes all children are naturally interested in technology, and teachers need to take advantage of this passion.
“We are now in a technologically-driven society so we need to teach students the foundations of how to approach a problem and solve it within a computing context. Coding is one part of this approach to teach the underlying skills: decomposing, generalising, algorithmic thinking, evaluation and abstraction.”
“We need to get more children into coding because it is the future. Women should not feel discouraged from pursuing a career in tech, they are perfectly capable. I think the best work is done when teams are diverse. We would get better results if teams are made up of different genders, different personality types and different racial backgrounds,” Huong said.
“Having a world where we’re as proud of our scientists and engineers as we are our sports people will encourage more of our best young females to take up careers in science and technology.”