In the world of computer science the term “wireframing” is a common phrase widely used by programmers. Wireframing is a way to design a website at the structural level and is used to lay out content and functionality on a page which takes into account user needs and user journeys. Wireframes are used early in the development process to establish the basic structure of a page before visual design and content is added. A website wireframe, also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website.

So, what does that have to do with the learners at Long-View?

Before Long-View learners in our two bands currently focusing on CSS, HTML, and JavaScript embark on a coding challenge, they do a lot of designing and planning. Computer Science teacher Nichole Bennett believes that this initial process is crucial as it enables the learners to get creative and think about what they would like their website to do instead of being limited by their coding skills.

“Well before we even start coding, learners first put together a list of inspirational websites, a wireframe, and three user stories. User stories are short narratives about someone who might visit your webpage. They are usually in the format: ‘As a < type of user >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >.’ For example: as a learner and a fan of Tardigrades, I want to visit this website to get some information about them for my thesis on them,"  says Ms. Bennett. Wireframes are basic sketches or designs that skip colors, fonts, sizing, and graphics and instead focus on functionality, space, content, and interplay.

“This approach enables the kids to lead with their creativity as they design their website, and then, along the way, learn the appropriate code needed to execute their plan,” says Nichole. “Coding their vision (for example, how to position a box element in exactly the way they imagined in their wireframe) results in kids being motivated to learn something new when they are tackling a project and have a reason to learn it rather than just have me tell them that learning is important.”

It is this pedagogical approach, and the underlying beliefs, that sets the teachers at Long-View apart. Thinking skills are not regarded just as competencies that we, as educators, instill in the heads of our students and that they, in turn, will use as needed. Thinking is something that people do when engaged in pursuing complex goals and purposeful activity. The pedagogy in the classroom supports growth in thinking skills and thinking. We believe that kids are capable of dealing with complexity, and we know that it’s important for them to learn that their ideas should guide their skills acquisition, especially within the domain of coding.

Coding for… the Long-View.