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Topic: "MSPnet Academy: Computational Thinking from a Disciplinary Perspective"

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MSPnet Academy Discussion
January 16th - 30th, 2018

Presented by: Joyce Malyn-Smith and Irene Lee

This is a follow up discussion to the January 16th MSPnet Academy Webinar.
(Webinar recording will be available 1/17/2018.)

Webinar Description: What does computational thinking look like from a disciplinary perspective? What tasks are computational thinking-enabled students of science engaged in when thinking computationally? How does this connect with activities and expectations of computational scientists? This webinar shares a new framework for exploring computational thinking from a disciplinary perspective and some of the implementation strategies used by disciplinary teachers to engage students in CT.

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This topic has 7 posts, showing all.

Welcome to the Discussion on Computational Thinking from a Disciplinary Perspective

posted by: Joyce Malyn-Smith on 1/17/2018 11:04 am

Irene and I hope you enjoyed the introduction to computational thinking from a disciplinary perspective.We found exploring this topic deeply has been thought provoking and has pushed our thinking about both where CT fits within K-12 education and how it can be taught and integrated We look forward to your thoughts on this topic and expect that this discussion forum will add new perspectives that will enrich the ongoing debate.

Basic Computer Understanding

posted by: Betsy Stefany on 1/20/2018 11:03 am

Thanks for sharing your research and opening up to a longer discussion session.
Our MSP engaged teachers with digital integration at the start of the STEM focus and continues beyond the end of the funding as a Community of Practice integrating digital tools. From the get-go of the project the fear of computer communications and data analysis were challenges that seemed to be paired as the system that would disrupt current teaching and environmental processes.
The overarching question of finding a way to help the public understand computers is important to solve. I wrote into the webinar did not fit with the intro session so I'm adding a bit more background to that question and hope others can build some thinking up from the k-12 approach to coding as a natural stage of spatial development. The slide and discussion of crowd sourcing and organizing data hit a cord as that stage of a project skips over some areas that need to be flushed out a the lower grade levels.
During the MSP teachers added visual tools to document and explore student changes over time. Movement data as that is where the earliest coding activities are that attract and engage the students as they traditionally competed in the Mindstorm Lego League. By scrolling back to align sensors with digital tools in a learner's environment is bridging that gap. The teachers are pealing back from the team and challenge stage to individually offer movement coding which evolves from the students traditional spring project of storyboarding a science term into a short movie. These six grade students will have individual experiences that are core to uniting data with the processes at work within a computer system, uniting text, visuals and data. These students are moving from computers as entertainment tools towards their support of the domains in STEM.
Are others developing similar strategies at other grade levels?

Connection to CSTA Standard

posted by: Steven McGee on 1/19/2018 12:47 pm

I am working with the Chicago Public Schools on their implementation of computer science graduation requirement for all students. We are exploring the possibilities of how to make connections between what students are learning in computer science and computational thinking in the disciplines. Having a framework for CT like this would be helpful for developing a common language for CS teachers to talk with math and science teachers. Have you made connections between your framework and the CSTA standards, which is the language that computer science educators are using?

Response to Steve's question

posted by: Joyce Malyn-Smith on 1/20/2018 11:39 am

This framework is quite new. We are in the process of determining if there are other elements that are emerging from our ongoing review of the contributions from workshop participants. Once completed we will vet our findings with the broader community and actively make connections to other efforts. That being said, this effort was conducted within the context of existing standards and frameworks, as well as current research and practice in the field. It certainly will be interesting making formal connections once this work is completed.

post updated by the author 1/20/2018

Standards, Frameworks and changing educational focus

posted by: Betsy Stefany on 1/21/2018 10:56 am

I am interested in the challenge of researchers to adapt to the expectation of project-based student engagement and STEM integration. The merging of the standards, frameworks and also the laws to move from teacher support to student evidence through data has been a relatively recent change. In the ISTE Standards for Educators they outline the "Learning Evolution" and this shifting "spotlight" (2) During the webinar we heard that assessment is a challenge. Are the ISTE Standards ones that you include in your research or are the domains we are discussing within domains in the framework we viewed?

Standards, Frameworks etc.

posted by: Joyce Malyn-Smith on 1/22/2018 8:39 am

The focus of learning and assessment is a challenge. Our advisors and project staff began by reviewing the state of the field for CT which included national, international and state standards and frameworks. Actually several of our advisors and staff served on national and state panels that have generated the CT and CS standards/ frameworks. Those, including the ISTE standards, were the starting point for our analyses and discussions. However, as we worked on this topic we moved from defining CT to defining "integration" and our focus shifted from CT to what can be accomplished through the use of CT. We used the example of the color wheel. If we thought of CT as "yellow" and disciplinary content such as science as "blue" - our focus shifted to defining the resulting "green". How do we assess the "green". The more we discussed, the more we realized that the green is not yellow, not blue - but something distinct that blends the two. The elements we proposed were an effort to articulate what occurs when CT and disciplinary content are expressed in an integrated form. It did represent a shift in thinking - which continues to evolve. A key challenge remains - what do we assess? the yellow, blue, or green? or perhaps all three?

post updated by the author 1/22/2018

Spatial Color Wheel Thinking

posted by: Betsy Stefany on 1/23/2018 8:22 am

Thanks for explaining your approach to studying assessment. The color wheel concept is one I've researched from the other direction. I expect software to use color maps consistent with the iconic patterns of color coding that has been historically developed through publishing the data in forms and colors to indicate volume and space but using the minimal number of colors. The color wheel use is multidomain as colors are produced by chemical and physical processes. Position is spatial change and measured by the using the full color wheel white to black gradients.
The 6th-graders are working on movement coding of small robots. The same classes also have the experience of making movies to explain complex science terms like erosion. We expect that these students will have an aptitude to think about movement by their practice with the drawing of frames for the realism of creating how movement can be represented by color patterns on one plane but may need to use gradient of color to achieve the right spatial changes of the robot. The students assess knowing sports and robotic competition. The reaching the goal in time and space of rules is what is important as that is the final assessment/product expectation. However teachers are developing ways of expanding the traditional goal and we are watching how that will play out.
The integration of digital tools can measure and formatively assess progress. Color is involved in this process. Reading that researchers are thinking in that form is very helpful.