June: Integrating CS and Computational Thinking in the Pre K-8 Grades

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Computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) is growing in popularity across K-12 schools. Teachers in the elementary grades, in particular, are looking at ways to integrate CS/CT into the core subjects. This month, we will explore the opportunities and challenges of bringing these concepts to primary grades education. This theme will explore four intersecting topics: 1) the case for CS/CT in K-8 as a means of building a foundation of knowledge and broadening participation in CS education; 2) how students are being equitably engaged and what are they learning; 3) how teachers are being prepared and supported; and 4) the role of state and national policies in promoting CS/CT education in the elementary and middle school grades. Read the Resources, View the Videos, Watch the Webinar Recording, and Join the Discussion! NEW: Synthesis Brief

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Expert Panel

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June Expert Panel: Integrating CS and Computational Thinking in the Pre K-8 Grades

JUN 10, 2020 at 03:00PM (Eastern Time)

In this webinar, we will explore the opportunities and challenges of bringing CS and CT to primary grades education. This theme will explore four intersecting topics: 1) the case for CS/CT in K-8 as a means of building a foundation of knowledge and broadening participation in CS education; 2) how students are being equitably engaged and what are they learning; 3) how teachers are being prepared and supported; and 4) the role of state and national policies in promoting CS/CT education in the elementary and middle school grades.

View Recording

Discussion

The Discussion related to Integrating CS and Computational Thinking in the Pre K-8 Grades is now live! Introduce yourself and let us know your interest in exploring this theme. This discussion will continue through June.
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Maya Israel

    Maya Israel

    Associate professor
    June 8, 2020 | 12:02 p.m.

    Hi. My name is Maya Israel. I'm the PI for the LTEC-2 project along with Diana Franklin and Andy Isaacs from UChicago and Jim Pellegrino from Univ of Illinois, Chicago. Our project focuses on integrating computational thinking into elementary fractions instruction. We have a STEM+C project that is entering its final year. 

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  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Researcher
    June 11, 2020 | 02:41 p.m.

    Thanks Maya! Can you tell us about the professional development that this has necessitated? Would love to hear from others as well as to the strategies and also the challenges of integrating CS into other subjects in the elementary years. 

     
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  • Icon for: Maya Israel

    Maya Israel

    Associate professor
    June 12, 2020 | 08:24 a.m.

    Professional development is key to CT integration. I'll be honest that in this project, the main focus was on development of the integrated materials and testing those out in classes and less on the professional development. We did a lot on our end to help the teachers implement the instructional materials. In this project, we had general PD focused introduction to CS/CT, the lessons themselves and the strategies used within them. We also created powerpoint presentations to accompany every lesson and short videos explaining both computational concepts and lesson activities. These, on their own, helped, but we still had a lot of variability in implementation.In follow up projects, we are going to focus much more on teacher implementation supports and professional development.

     
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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Director
    June 12, 2020 | 09:44 a.m.

    Maya, I"m curious what kinds of PD you see as being most needed?  

     

     

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  • Icon for: Alan Peterfreund

    Alan Peterfreund

    Executive Director
    June 11, 2020 | 07:50 p.m.

    Welcome to our discussion board.  On our webinar, we focused on how initiating a focus on CS and CT has the potential of overcoming the severe lack of diversity in who becomes a computer science.  A core principle of being in K-8 and integrating CS and CT is that potentially all students participate.  But that only works as a model of change if all schools are offering those opportunities.   What is going on in your state or district to build capacity at those schools and district serving communities where economic disadvantages are more widespread?

     

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  • Icon for: Betsy Stefany

    Betsy Stefany

    Coordinator STEM Literacy Community of Practice
    June 12, 2020 | 01:22 p.m.

    Hi, Alan, 

     Glad to have this discussion and agree that the k-8 is the place to ensure that everyone  participates also that finding a way to ensure that the school understands the changes in tech integration and also that their community agrees.  Our project initially was a MSP so directed at teacher engagement however we partnered with UNH Cooperative Ext as their manuals aided our elementary step into STEM.  NH had a grant that introduced EIE materials which had a narrative tie which the teachers welcomed, however found the PD expected more than they could catch up and manage.   Cooperative Extension added an event that involved kits for "leaders and youth", most recently their kits have focused on coding.   These bridged our needs, reaching rural traditional programs with existing afterschool and IT district plans to advance teachers.  These kits assume no pre-knowledge and aided all of us to "find our pathway" through what we knew, the interest of kids.  Has anyone else used this as a first step?   

     
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  • Icon for: Melissa Rasberry

    Melissa Rasberry

    June 18, 2020 | 04:42 p.m.

    This is an interesting concept, Betsy! If I understand correctly, the teachers were learning as they go, along with their students. Is that correct? How was that received by the teachers?

     
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  • Icon for: Betsy Stefany

    Betsy Stefany

    Coordinator STEM Literacy Community of Practice
    June 18, 2020 | 07:51 p.m.

    Yes, that is correct.   The teachers were able to develop their choice of tools as long as they were directly connected to the MSP areas where the MOSART tests showed the need for teacher improvement and were STEM in application..not just name.  They had to demo output of merging text, data and visuals. 

    At the time we began the Math and Science Partnership project technology integration meant learning to integrate online content (2009).  The teachers learned how the students worked with the digital "tools" of computer labs.  During the timeframe of the five years of the MSP, IPads were introduced then blue tooth digital tools through the teachers' individualized interests.

    We continue to build, adding the teachers' continual projects using the data loggers collecting classroom data to address actual classroom issues (glare).  We continue as a Community of Practice adding in one district's testing of AI software and another district's offering of coding using Cooperative Ext. kits.  The NASA/AREN project was also a suggestion from a teacher.  We will add a further content through Gearbox Labs further enabling teachers to wrap in their timing and learn as they go. 

     
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    Melissa Rasberry
  • Icon for: Melissa Rasberry

    Melissa Rasberry

    June 24, 2020 | 04:14 p.m.

    Thanks for this additional context! This sounds like a great way to continue to engage teachers and meet their needs as classroom instruction evolves.

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  • Icon for: Marley Jarvis

    Marley Jarvis

    Outreach and Education Specialist
    June 15, 2020 | 07:13 p.m.

    Hi everyone! I'm Marley Jarvis, an Outreach and Education Specialist at the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) in Seattle. Here at I-LABS, we do research on a wide range of topics, but one key area of interest for us is looking at what might counteract negative stereotypes in a way that boost underrepresented children's interest and motivation in STEM. We spend a lot of time investigating how children's identities and the social messages they receive impact or boost their learning. And there's certainly a lot of messages out there about who can and "can't" do computer science, so this is a topic of particular importance I think.

     
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  • Icon for: Melissa Rasberry

    Melissa Rasberry

    June 24, 2020 | 04:22 p.m.

    Interesting research, Marley! I know that I've heard of some teachers of CS do a simple exercise in which they ask students to draw what a computer scientist looks like. Analyzing the drawings show that most kids illustrate old white men. This leads into a discussion about everyone can be a computer scientist. Simple but effective!

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  • Icon for: Kimberly Descoteaux

    Kimberly Descoteaux

    Project Staff
    June 24, 2020 | 09:30 a.m.

     For those who couldn't make the Twitter chat, you can check out the discussion that took place in this pdf

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Related Resources

Author(s): csedresearch.org team
Publication: csedresearch.org

This NSF-funded website provides CS education references and instruments in a searchable database.

Author(s): Led by the Association for Computing Machinery, Code.org, Computer Science Teachers Association, Cyber Innovation Center, and National Math and Science Initiative in partnership with states and districts
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This website provides the K-12 Computer Science Framework, CS education standards and resources.

Author(s): CS for All Teachers
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A virtual community for CS teachers, grades preK - 12.

Author(s): CSTA
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Author(s): ECEP
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Author(s): June Webinar Panelists and Participants
Publication: June Webinar Chat

This is a list of CS Resources compiled from the June Theme of the Month Webinar Chat.