I took a look at the website with all the quotes from famous people from the technology world and you are right. Some of them were as simple as, “To compete in a global market, our students need high quality STEM education including computer science skills such as coding.” –Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education). They didn’t provide statistics or ways students and teachers can get involved with programming. I did find some of the quotes to be inspiring nonetheless. “Learning to code is tremendously empowering. It lets you go from just being a consumer of technology to being a producer of it. When you make that transformation, you realize that rather than settling for what someone else tells you is possible, you have the power to create whole new technological possibilities.” –Mehran Sahami (Stanford, Chair of Education, Computer Science). Using these quotes might be a good way to inspire students and get some motivation to challenge themselves with learning this new language.
Great minds must think alike! Lisa also posted the link to Bootstrap and I feel in love with it too! I think you and I are looking for the same goals with computer programming – to enhance the students understanding of the mathematical topics they are learning in class. That way they are getting the problem solving practice as well as deepening their understanding of the topic by troubleshooting with the program. The only problem that I saw with Bootstrap, which I also shared with Lisa, is that the lessons that Bootstrap has build off of each other, so it is hard to just do one lesson in the middle of the curriculum unit. However, I do think that it provides really good ideas on how to create your own assignment or lesson based on the concept you are teaching.
Wow, Sue! You brought up some excellent points about some issues with computer programming. The first issue about special needs students is an important and prevalent one in many schools. I think that special accommodations can still be made for students when using technology. There are so many instructional resources like video tutorials on www.learnscratch.org or lessons on https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/dhawk/scratch/. The lesson on the second website I gave have screen shots and step-by-step instructions for those students who need more structure or are struggling learning from demonstrations. Meagan talked about creating cheat sheets for parents, but we could also make on for students too with what each button does and how to put the pieces together to make it work. That way those students can have that resource printed out in front of them to follow along with a lesson or when creating their own program. Resource teachers can also get trained on Scratch and be an additional resource in the classroom for these students. I think it is important to make those accommodations for special needs students since they will need this technology exposure to understand many of the different technology applications in society today. Do you have any experience working with special needs students? Do you have any other ideas on how we can accommodate for their needs when teaching computer programming?
In response to your second point, I think that computer programming has benefits that extend beyond just learning and understanding technology. I think the ability to break apart a large problem into pieces, troubleshoot, and problem solve are important no matter what career field you chose. Although students do not need a heavy overload of computer programming to achieve these goals, I do think the basic exposure is still important to learn about the technology and gain problem solving skills. What are your thoughts on this?
I also think your fourth point about learning a computer programming language that might be obsolete is a few years would also relate to what I just wrote on the benefits of learning computer programming. The ability to break apart problems and write code can be more easily transferred to a new computer programming software if your brain is already used to working in that format. Do you agree?
Your third point talks about students who are already programming and might be bored with a curriculum that is designed to fit the needs of different skill levels. I would challenge them to create a program that meets certain criteria that are math-based. That way they are being challenged with a new goal in mind and problem solving with math concepts they have learned. These students would also be great resources for other students in the class, as well as the teacher! Maybe you can invite the student to create a Scratch program and a lesson to teach the students their favorite skill. There is a lot of ways to challenge and use those advanced students in your class. Do you have any ideas on how to make it work?
I do think that incorporating computer programming is difficult considering how structured many of our school curriculums are. However, I think we can be creative about how we use it. Like instead of students creating a diorama, they can create a program instead. I think by taking those baby steps, we can give the students the exposure to programming without deferring too far from our curriculum. That is why I liked the Bootstrap link that you gave. I think using computer programming to enhance and assess mathematical understanding is meeting more of the Common Core standards than you may first think!