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Cultivating Computational Thinking Practices and Mathematical Habits of Mind in Lattice Land

Abstract

There is a great deal of overlap between the set of practices collected under the term "computational thinking" and the mathematical habits of mind that are the focus of much mathematics instruction. Despite this overlap, the links between these two desirable educational outcomes are rarely made explicit, either in classrooms or in the literature. This paper presents Lattice Land, a computational learning environment and accompanying curriculum designed to support the development of mathematical habits of mind and promote computational thinking practices in high-school mathematics classrooms. Lattice Land is a mathematical microworld where learners explore geometrical concepts by manipulating polygons drawn with discrete points on a plane. Using data from an implementation in a low-income, urban public high school, we show how the design of Lattice Land provides an opportunity for learners to use computational thinking practices and develop mathematical habits of mind, including tinkering, experimentation, pattern recognition, and formalizing hypothesis in conventional mathematical notation. We present Lattice Land as a restructuration of geometry, showing how this new and novel representational approach facilitates learners in developing computational thinking and mathematical habits of mind. The paper concludes with a discussion of the interplay between computational thinking and mathematical habits of mind, and how the thoughtful design of computational learning environments can support meaningful learning at the intersection of these disciplines.

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