I just returned from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), where I made my first official presentation for the CT4EDU project. I wanted to share a bit about the paper and presentation for any interested folks who were not there.
We’re just finishing up our pilot year of the CT4EDU project. The project is an NSF funded research-practice partnership (RPP). Michigan State University (PI Aman Yadav and co-PIs Christina Schwarz, Niral Shah, and Emily Bouck) is working with the American Institutes for Research and the Oakland Intermediate School District to partner with elementary classroom teachers to integrate computational thinking into their math and science instruction. Over the spring and summer of 2018, we introduced our partner teachers to four computational thinking ideas: Abstraction, Decomposition, Patterns, and Debugging. Then we worked with our partner teachers to screen their existing mathematics and science lessons for opportunities to enhance or add opportunities for students to engage in these ideas. In the fall, the teachers implemented their planned lessons and we collected classroom video. (Note that in this first round of implementation, all of the lessons were in unplugged contexts.)
One of the first things we noticed was that there were some clear differences among teachers’ implementations of CT. In this work-in-progress paper, we share three patterns of implementation that we identified:
Pattern A: Using CT to Guide Teacher Planning
Some teachers were explicit within their plans about where they saw the CT ideas in their lessons, but did not make the CT ideas explicit to students during implementation.
Pattern B: Using CT to Structure Lessons
Among the teachers who did make CT explicit to students, some focused a lesson strongly on one particular CT idea. We described this pattern as structuring the lesson around a CT idea.
Pattern C: Using CT as Problem-Solving Strategies
Other teachers who made CT explicit in implementation seemed to reference the CT ideas more opportunistically. Rather than structuring opportunities to engage with one CT idea, they pointed out connections to one or more CT ideas as they worked through problems.
We’re looking forward to exploring how these different patterns of implementation relate to student thinking about CT as we go into our last year of the project — particularly as we begin considering ways to bridge students’ work in unplugged contexts to plugged activities.
You can find the conference paper here.
There is a version of the slides here.
(Sadly, the slides are missing the classroom video, which is clearly the best part of the presentation!)
Many thanks to everyone who came to my presentation.