What are your goals for your classroom? How will CS or code.org resources help you meet those goals?
My goal to help my students see how understanding the logic needed in coding is directly applicable to the logic needed to solve problems in Algebra. This will introduce them to the bigger picture in math education, which is to hone the mind’s natural reasoning abilities in order to apply them to rigorous problem solving in any topic. I like that CS in Algebra gives students an engaging way to approach and solve problems.
I also want to share with my math department the bootstrap/code.org idea of approaching the order of operations as a literacy skill; not just math literacy, but language literacy. I believe the circles of evaluation and evaluation blocks help build that literacy for students in a way that mnemonic devices like PEMDAS don’t.
What are you most excited about when it comes to implementing some of these resources?
The circles of evaluation and the design recipe will be so new, yet so relevant to my students.
What challenges do you foresee in trying to meet your goals?
I am teaching Algebra 1 to 9th graders, so these are not the students who were identified as ready for acceleration in math in middle school. To many they are viewed as being “behind” in math already. Because of this, it seems that the district, the school, the department, etc. are always finding ways to “fix” Algebra 1 instruction. Right now I have 3 other initiatives (including a new Williams approved textbook that is more or less scripted) to implement in Algebra 1 besides CS in Algebra. So something has to give. However, I think the concepts, resources, support, and tools in CS Algebra are so valuable that I will make it as much of a priority as I am allowed. I like another forum teacher’s suggestion about implementing it for the 3 weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. I think giving it some concentrated time is critical, instead of trying to “sprinkle” it in like it’s magic fairy dust or something. Also, it will help engage the students at a time when that is particularly difficult (after a whole week off and just before the 3 week Christmas break.)
What questions do you have that this community might help you answer?
I’m not sure yet but I’ll post again when I think of something.
I have already created the CS Algebra class in code.org and enrolled all the students. I had them start playing the ninja game to get a feel for what we’ll be creating. Of course they all think the game is “lame” and they don’t see the big deal in creating it themselves. So it will be interesting when they see how much is involved in coding just a small portion of the game.