Computer Science Curriculum for Hawaiian Summer Camp.
Computer science fosters creativity and teaches students critical thinking skills to become proactive learners, so it is never too early to be introduced to the world of CS. (Blikstein & Mogdhadam, 2019). Through play based and experiential projects, students will develop problem solving, collaboration, persistence, and computational thinking skills. Ultimately, we cultivate a new generation of computer scientists who will become producers, and not merely consumers of digital goods in our increasingly technology driven world.
The children we are aiming to target is comprised primarily of kindergartners in South Korea and the United States. Some are ESL/ EFL speakers and may possess limited speaking or listening capabilities in their second tongue.
According to Jean Piaget, children go through stages of cognitive development resulting from biological maturation and environmental experience. He believed that knowledge is not simply transferred from teacher to student but actively constructed by the mind of the learner. Leaners are particularly likely to learn when they are actively engaged in making some type of external artifact, which they can reflect upon and share with others. Learning through the design process: designing, personalizing, and reflecting- are essential to the design of constructivist learning environments. (Brennan, 2015)
I incorporated this learner centered learning experiences in addition to scaffolding learning material and adding numerous social interactions as the core pedagogical foundations of the design of the curriculum.
The camp is located on Ala Moana area in Honolulu on Oahu Island. Fostering awareness, appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of Hawai‘i’s environment by educating children with an interactive and immersive approach was also a central theme of this learning experience. Through multiple site visitations and ultimately a final project that takes them to the beaches of Hanauma Bay, students will learn to appreciate and co-exisit with the nature of Hawaii.
The curriculum consists of 12 lesson plans and corresponding slides and/or worksheets (when necessary) organized in a neat folders for teachers to readily access. Teachers are provided with materials and resources as well as an overview of what they would teach, for how long, and how. Teachers should have creative agency to adjust activities and lessons to accommodate both the classroom culture and students’ technological experience and developmental levels. (Leake, & Lewis, 2017)
Students learn coding through two primary tools: Scratch Jr. and Kibo.
Scratch Jr. is a developmentally appropriate programming language for children ages five through seven. Using the Scratch Jr. iPad application, students can create their own interactive collages, animated stories, and games. Students are first exposed to the learning blocks in Scratch Jr. to ultimately understand building elements of computer science.
In the second week, students learn to code Kibo, a screen-free robotic toy. Students can create, design, and decorate this hands-on programmable robot helping them build constructive play, problem solving, and critical thinking capabilities.
Readings from the class allowed me to design a purposeful curriculum from the start. Best practices in education call for learning to be student centered and highly situated within their own contexts. With Hawaii as their backdrop, elements of nature are highlighted throughout the curriculum. Moana, turtles, and wildlife became a main feature of the coding experience.
Learning should also be project driven, allowing students the agency to be drivers of their own learning. In the second week, students become robot engineers as they decorate their KIBO turtles based on storybooks read together in class and are asked to program the turtles to waddle safely across the beach once they sense the moon light. (Bers, 2017).
There are plenty of instances scaffolding- students learn about loops in four different ways through unplugged dance games, Code.org exercises, Scratch Jr. challenges, and Kibo programming blocks. Reinforcement helps students intuit the concepts and helps them understand that these concepts can transcend cross-disciplines. Finally, learning always ends with design journal reflects at this camp.
Bers, M. U. (2017). Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom (pp. 135-184). New York, NY: Routledge.
Blikstein, P., & Moghadam, S. (2019). Computing Education: Literature Review and Voices from the Field. In S. Fincher & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 56-78). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brennan, K. (2015). Beyond Technocentrism: Supporting Constructionism in the Classroom. Constructivist Foundations, 10(3), 289-296.
Leake, M., & Lewis, C. M. (2017). Recommendations for Designing CS Resource Sharing Sites for All Teachers. SIGCSE 2017.