ESL Students in Albemarle Use CoderDojo Academy

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Learning the ins and outs of computers isn't always fun and games, but it was Wednesday in Albemarle County.

CoderDojo Academy has students helping other students in English as a second language (ESL). The program was started in Ireland and brought over as a way for kids to be not only consumers of technology, but also creators of it. It teaches students about computer programming, applications, and design.

This year, 70 spots were reserved in the CoderDojo camp for children taking ESL.

"I like making new friends and I like showing them things that they don't know and they can show me things that I don't know,” said a fourth-grader named Brisa, who participated in the camp.

Sibylle Rotach-Hunt, a teacher and organizer of the program, said, “I think it all comes down to patterns. Children need to learn patterns. Language is patterns, computer coding is patterns, math is patterns - they all are related and children have different ways of learning, and they have different ways of looking at patterns to bring it all together.”

Elaine Cecelski-Ayala, ESL family engagement coordinator with Albemarle County Public Schools, says many families struggle with technology at home.

"Our population often doesn't have the hardware at home to work on - they may not have a home computer, the parents have a lot of interest but may not have the knowledge to support their children in the learning of technology,” Cecelski-Ayala said.

Because of what the children learn at the camp, they're able to help their parents learn more too.

The program runs for two weeks and it's free for all of the students participating.

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