03 Nov Learning a Third Language: Computer Coding at Schechter Manhattan

Learning a Third Language: Computer Coding at Schechter Manhattan

Two third and fourth grade girls are huddled together over a laptop computer.  They are talking animatedly, trying to figure out how to put the block language together in a way that will successfully move their animated bird through a digital maze.  They are totally engaged, focused on solving their shared problem, and I can see that they are thinking deeply.

This year, the Lieberman Family STEAM Center has expanded to bring computer coding lessons to all the students at Schechter Manhattan.  Even as students continue to practice design thinking in STEAM challenges to solve real-world problems, they are also building understanding of the fundamentals of computer science so that they can eventually bring that ever more important 21st-century skill set to their problem-solving efforts.

Students in grades K through 2 are learning about sequencing and how to place commands in the correct order to complete a task. Beginning with “unplugged activities” (coding without a computer or iPad), students in Gan and 1st grade are sequencing symbols to navigate a character from the beginning to the end of a maze. Students in second grade are writing programs so that their friends can replicate the picture or pattern. Through this work, students are considering the question, “Does order matter?” and discovering that there are sometimes multiple paths to the same solution.

Students in upper elementary grades 3, 4, and 5 are learning about loops and how they are used to repeat a series of commands a certain number of times. Using computer-based activities on studio.code.org, students are using loops to efficiently move characters through mazes and puzzles and to draw shapes and patterns on the computer.  In the upcoming weeks, students in Grade 3/4  will be working on a collaborative coding project with a partner school in Bogota, Colombia through Level Up Village. Students will be using the language Scratch to design a video game that represents aspects of both schools’ cultures.

Middle School students are discovering many structures of code, including nested loops, while loops, and conditionals through different activities on studio.code.org. They are applying these structures in many ways, including through designing intricate drawings of snowflakes, solving mazes and puzzles, and creating rules and scoring systems for card games.  They will be applying their coding skills to write code for Arduino boards, that can be used to control robots they design.

The computer coding lessons are designed for students to build understanding of conceptual foundations of code so that as they become more advanced they will be able to learn and use a variety of coding languages.  And that is our aspiration, for Schechter Manhattan graduates to be conversant in three languages- English, Hebrew, and a computer programming language as well.

Shabbat Shalom

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair

Each week we will feature the written work of our students. We hope that you will stop back next week and see what they are writing and thinking about.


In Writing, our Gan students used a special object to inspire their writing.

“I lVM bRlt”
(I love my bracelet)
– Arielle

“mY Mom Go Me a PUP”
(My mom got me a puppy)
– Danielle

“I got it from Kaluforny”
(I got it from California)
– Sarah

“I war u hlmt”
(I wear a helmet)
– Simon



Kitah Bet worked on how to write “To Do” instructions so that someone who has never done the task before could follow the directions and do it. We integrated material we are learning in coding, by developing our ability to give specific, thorough, step-by-step instructions, which were tested by classmates for “gaps” and missing instructions.

Click here to work by Aviya, Adam, Ethan T., Arielle & Hanna



For the culmination of our study of flash fiction (extremely brief fiction stories), the fifth-grade students have crafted their own flash fiction stories of 150 words or less.

Oh Doodle
I have a dog. His name is Doodle.We do everything together we snuggle together and on his birthday we have a lot of fun together. Every day we both get up at 7:00 am sharp. One day I woke up a little late. I walked downstairs to eat breakfast with doodle but Doodle wasn’t there. Just then I heard a voice coming from the other room. “You take care of the dog, and I will take care of the owner”. eat breakfast with doodle but Doodle wasn’t there. Just then
– Ella

Dealing with Death
“Noooooooooo!!!!” Grace shouted. “It’s dead!! Whyyyyyyy!!!!! It was so soon!” Grace cried and screamed and shouted but nothing would help. It was dead and there was nothing Grace could do about it. She was just going to have to live with it being dead. “I just had to be easier on it” Grace sobbed. “Grace sweetie, what’s wrong?” Grace’s mom asked. “My phone died.”
– Arielle

The Leap
I leap above all the houses, waving happily to my neighbors and friends. I have a pair of neon bouncy shoes on my feet and I can almost touch the white, fluffy clouds. I feel powerful and I never want this to end. Then suddenly I start shaking violently. What is happening to me? Will I be okay?

“Wake up Julie! You’re going to be late for school! I’ve been yelling at you for five minutes!”
I sigh and slowly open my eyes. I find myself lying in bed and I see my mom shaking me and yelling.
“Okaaay. I get it.” I mutter.
– Talia

Never fast enough
I sprinted down the hallway, turning all the lights off as speed down the hallway so it’s harder for him to see me through the darkness. My heart is racing rapidly. He keeps chasing me through the darkness and I try to run as fast as I can, but fast isn’t fast enough and he catches up easily. He grabs me and forces me to look at him. His face was red, scrunched up and he was wearing a furious expression on. “Madeline” my dad screeches. “Why won’t you go to bed?!”
– Hannah


7th grade students participated in a digestive system experiment where they had to create recipes for pill coatings that would slow down the rate at which pills break down. Students covered pills (skittles) in the coating recipes they created and observed what happened to the pills when placed in a cup of stomach acid (lemon lime soda). Students followed the steps of the scientific method and wrote up a lab report for the experiment.

Click here to view Sammy & Samuel’s lab report

Click here to view Sammy & Samuel’s Recipe & Fraction Worksheet