Tag Archives: Computational Thinking

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

Learning about Computational Thinking, often referred to as coding (which is really the “written” part of process), is a new literacy that is overlooked for myriad reasons: “It’s too hard”, “I don’t understand it so, it will be impossible to teach”, “It doesn’t fit into any curricular area”, “There is no math in it at all”, “It’s just not appropriate for little ones”. I’ve pretty much heard the gamut of reasons why this process, not dissimilar to Design Thinking or Inquiry processes taking placing in Making/Tinkering and STEAM environments, is not viable in classrooms today. The reality is that computation thinking is a YAIEP or Yet Another Inquiry Entry Point. This should be a comforting thing for most. Inquiry and more recently Design Thinking are processes have been used extensively in the STEAM and Maker Movements that has swept educational institutions. These programs feature pedagogy that empower students to take more responsibility for their learning pathway; directing their learning through questions and personal perspectives; try to find and solve unique problems that have meaning and importance them; collaborating together to makes sense of data collected; communicating with authentic audiences and experts to share and obtain information; demonstrate their understandings in unique ways. This is Computational Thinking at it’s best as well. But there are added benefits as well and the article highlights these beautifully….  (Keith Strachan)


Word Splash of Coding Words

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

When it comes to preparing your children for the future, there are few better ways to do so than to help them learn to code! Coding helps kids develop academic skills, build qualities like perseverance and organization, and gain valuable 21st century skills that can even translate into a career. From the Tynker blog, here are the top 10 reasons kids should learn to code:

Coding Improves Academic Performance

  1. Math: Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative!
  2. Writing: Kids who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills. Many kids even use Tynker as a medium for storytelling!
  3. Creativity: Kids learn through experimentation and strengthen their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.
  4. Confidence: Parents enthusiastically report that they’ve noticed their kids’ confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding!

Coding Builds Soft Skills

  1. Focus and Organization: As they write more complicated code, kids naturally develop better focus and organization.
  2. Resilience: With coding comes debugging – and there’s no better way to build perseverance and resilience than working through challenges!
  3. Communication: Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Think about it: learning code means learning a new language!

Coding Paves a Path to the Future

  1. Empowerment: Kids are empowered to make a difference when they code – we’ve seen Tynkerers use the platform to spread messages of tolerance and kindness!
  2. Life Skills: Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.
  3. Career Preparation: There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!

Tynker makes it fun and easy for kids to learn how to code! Kids use Tynker’s visual blocks to begin learning programming basics, then graduate to written programming languages like Python, Javascript, and Swift. Our guided courses, puzzles, and more ensure that every child will find something that ignites their passion for learning. Explore our plans and get your child started coding today!

via www.tynker.com http://ift.tt/2i2cGVZ

Computational Thinking Revisited

Computational Thinking
Computational Thinking

I have been thinking more about what the important steps embedded in the process of programming… There are really two cycles within the process: one that follows a design or inquiry-like sequence & one that addresses computational thinking. I have tweaked this model over and over and have done so again below to show where I think the computational thinking fits in.

Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking
Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking

It’s fascinating to watch students tackle this head on. I was at Wellington School the other day working on a coding and I was amazed on a number of fronts:

Wellington Students
Wellington Students Coding; Posted with permission
  • Students were unfazed by the coding challenges put in front of them: the challenges were hard but the students were highly motivated to solve them
  • Students struggled initially with establishing social sharing of the tools: needed to provide some strategies here
  • They successfully collaborated in their teams
  • They creatively collaborated across teams
  • The focussed completely on the coding problem & trying to solve it
  • It didn’t matter that Math, Science & ELA outcomes, strategies & content were being dealt with in order to solve the coding problem at hand: students shifted between these areas with ease. The blended nature of the content was authentic and natural to the students
  • Students were creative in their solutions to the coding problems that were being solved
4 Cs: Above & Beyond
Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking , Creativity

What stands out is that with little help the students were practicing the 4Cs meaningfully across content areas. This reaffirms that coding can be curricular glue, but more than that, it allows for students to engage in two authentic and worthy processes: inquiry/design & computational thinking.

Heat VS Temperature

I have been working on a HEAT VS TEMPERATURE simulation for a Grant Park coding challenge. The prototype appears below. I have limited the speed to 50 and the number of cloned objects to 50 as well. My temperature measurements at the moment are pure fiction and I would love some advice on formulas to make those more accurate.

At any rate, the idea would be to have students generate the code to create the simulation in order to explore what happens to heat and temperature when you increase or decrease the speed and/or number of particles in a substance.

Please feel free to email any feedback:  Contact Me

Should Kids Learn to Code? | Gaby Hinsliff

Learning to Code
Learning to Code

Recently, my Director gave me an interesting article to read entitled Should Kids Learn to Code? by Gaby Hinsliff. It was a fairly involved read and I thought I do my own version of a Storify of it!!! So here goes…

“Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

…learning to code is simply learning to tell machines what to do…

“We want people who are comfortable with that sense that there’s no right answer.”

Teaching word processing packages and PowerPoint was all very well, they argued, but to become programmers, children needed to get under the bonnet and understand how computers work.

We’re teaching too many kids in schools how to use applications, not to build them.

Non-specialists can teach basic office IT skills, but teaching computational thinking requires more in-depth knowledge.

Although the tech industry is overwhelmingly male-dominated, this group, typically for a Code Club class, comprises roughly 40% girls. Yet girls tend to drift away from computing in their early teens – boys outnumber girls at A-level computer science by nine to one.

Perhaps that is the single most honest argument for teaching everyone to code: to give everyone an equal shot.

So, what in a nutshell, is the author’s & my opinion on the question? Yes. Emphatically yes! Students should learn to code. More importantly though, special attention will need to paid to engage and keep girls involved through the teen years.

Coding a new Literacy Superpower

10 Reasons to Code
10 Reasons to Code

Coding in December has become the thing to do now that Hour of Code has begun sweeping the nation, and this is a very good thing!

But is it being explicitly taught or better yet infused in other curricular areas in most schools? That’s a question worth examining in some detail. My experience tells me that it is not. And I wonder why this is so. As I reflect on this, I wonder if it is because the value & flexibility of coding is undervalued! Also that coding is seen as somehow a mystical, magical beast that will be incredibly difficult to learn and even harder to bring to students in a meaningful way.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Coding is seen as something that is cool and engaging by almost all students. And while “cool” is nice, what really matters are the lasting benefits of building a coding skill set:

  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Persistence
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

These skills should look familiar… Shauna Cornwell in her latest monthly Eyes on Innovation November 2015 refers to Michael Fullan’s 4 Cs and 6 Cs…

 

4 Cs: Above & Beyond
Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking , Creativity

 

Other educators, particularly in the older grades look to this model from Michael Fullan (@MichaelFullan1) – The 6 c’s of Deeper Learning when having conversations with students around 21st century learning.

Let’s look at this another way… The 3 of the 5 reasons outlined below are potent ones that fit into cluster 0, critical thinking, inquiry, design process structures used throughout the Division and Province. With very little tweaking a programming, coding process can be added into these processes easily as I will show later in the article.

Why Code in Education Infographic

It would seem that reasons for coding in education are easily enough defended from a pedagogical point of view. The reasons listed above are well supported in theory and practice! So there is no reasons not to try coding. Except how does one start the process? It seems daunting. This is the logical next step to explore…

How does a teacher start the process of coding?

Online Coding Offerings: the tip of the icebergCoding has a lot to offer in terms of getting kids thinking, problem solving and collaborating. It can be infused in math, science, ELA and any other subject with relative ease. There are an increasing number of ways to get this done. Edutopia has an excellent article entitle 15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer). And these are just the tip of the coding iceberg.

Hour Of Code and Code.org are the hot-beds of all things coding in terms of getting started and getting students hyped up about coding.

This is where I would start my journey in learning about coding and helping younger students learning about coding.

Options Galore

However, the Hour of Code is just a starting point. When you and your students are ready for more, there are tremendous resources all over the Internet to explore. Keep in mind some of these are for profit organizations and have a cost attached.

There are a growing number of iPad, Tablet & Web-based (see already listed above) apps that promote coding as well. These apps often have their own support sites or online conduits or information sharing services.

Here are some more Advanced tools for those that want to delve deeper still…

A colleague of mine stumbled upon this link to a listing of grade level applications for coding. While I am not convinced that all the apps are truly locked into the grade levels suggested, they are generally targeted at the right age levels. For the sake of having the listing I am including the linked resource. Grade Level Coding Apps and Resources

Coding Processes

Example of Building Coding Process into Existing Design Process
I thought It might also be useful to talk briefly about a process to use for coding. There are many constructivist based processes like the design or inquiry processes that would serve as a starting place for a coding process. I would suggest adding only a few wrinkles to flesh out, otherwise solid, processes that have proven their worth in then educational realm. Below is an example of how a design process can be modified in three simple ways to make it more suitable for a coding process. This can be accomplished with whatever thinking or design process you happen to be comfortable with.

Girls and Coding

One final consideration before leaving you to begin your coding venture is that of gender balance…. The gender gap in the computer science industry is astonishing. Women today represent only 18% of all computer science graduates. In 1984, women were 37%. Encourage girls and young women to get started with coding using these inspiring programs.