In CS Discoveries it seems that Unit 4 and Unit 5 are not as exciting to students as the previous units. What do you do to spice them up or get students engaged in them? I understand it is important information so I am not asking to skip it but the students don’t seem to have the enthusiasm in them as they did in Units 1 through 3. I do think Unit 6 will bring that enthusiasm back.
I actually think Unit 4 is one of the more exciting units in the curriculum. Students are learning to create apps - a technology they use probably multiple times a day. And by the end of the unit, students create apps “for good”. Research shows this is powerful motivator for girls. And unit 5 is so foundational in today’s literacy - understanding information and data. For unit 5, I do feel that truly connecting the “why” to the curriculum is essential. So, bring in multiple examples that they know and understand. Here are some basic tips I can think of to engage the students and I hope others submit ideas as well:
- Begin with a strong hook. I’ve had kids share their favorite app and we’ve looked at the app stores for the most popular apps and had discussions about why they might be most popular. You could have kids interview friends and family and report back findings and talk about why parents use different apps than students.
- Bring in experts and guest speakers- even virtually.
- Find app contests - there are soooo many. We competed in the Congressional App Challenge in the fall.
- Encourage students to interview their community - middle schoolers love talking to their friends. Lots of ways to do this virtually with surveys, texting, social media, etc.
- Again - start with a strong hook to connect that “why are we learning this” piece. I have students bring in a local news article they are interested in and we “unpack” the article and look for the local data.
- My kids LOVE the image pixel widget. We do gallery walks to see the different images that can be created.
- Binary bracelets - boys and girls LOVE the project. We usually do this around lesson 5.
- Binary games - there are many but we use this one.
I am sure others have many ideas as well!
My students enjoy it as well! I try and replicate as much real-world experience as I can. We do a lot with collaborative design challenges and use this class as a feeder into higher-level classes at our high school. I also focus on giving feedback and evaluating each others work. The forums here are great places to find inspiration.