Computational Thinking: Part 2 – Additional Resources from the CSTA

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki.By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

In a blog titled “Computational Thinking: Free Professional Development Resources” posted last month, we discussed the concept of computational thinking, its definition and the benefits of teaching computational thinking to students. In essence, Computational Thinking (CT) means solving problems and designing systems by drawing on concepts developed in the field of computer  science. Importantly, CT can be used to solve problems in any subject area.

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have created a Computational Thinking Task Force and have produced materials to support computational thinking in K-12 education.

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You can find their operational definition of CT hereYou can download their document “Computational Thinking Teacher Resources” here. These illustrate CT methods in conjunction with material for other subject areas.  And their Leadership Toolkit for CT is located here.

 CT-TeacherResources-2ed-Cover

Free professional development training

And from Curriki, the Open Educational Resources Library and Community, we offer a self-paced professional development course for K-12 teachers interested in learning how to infuse Computational Thinking into their classes. The course was developed with support from AT&T.

• The CT professional development course is free and available on the Curriki website: www.curriki.org/oer/Computational-Thinking-Resources.

• The course has been created primarily for teachers at the middle school and high school levels, all K-12 educators will benefit from taking the course.

• Any teacher can take the course, including homeschool teachers.

• The self-paced online course provides teachers with a comprehension of CT and with the tools they need to get started right away.

• The course provides flexible professional development opportunities for educators who can work at their own pace and time frame.

• Teachers will examine the components of CT and explore how to introduce CT skills to their students.

• The concepts of CT may be applied to current curricula, project-based learning (PBL) projects, and STEM classes.

• CT can be used to solve problems in any area or field.

• Problem solving through CT is such a critically important skill it is directly or indirectly addressed by several sets of educational standards including:

o Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards

o Next Generation Science Standards

  AT&T generously funded the development of this course.

We encourage you to take benefit of this free professional development course in Computational Thinking from Curriki

Extension Projects for the Middle School Math

LaniBy Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia

The months before summer break often fall into the similar pattern of finishing up the year’s curriculum, preparing for standardized testing, and trying to keep students engaged through to the last day of school. These may appear as three separate feats, but it can be effective to develop activities that address all three at once. Here are several lessons and projects that involve collaborative learning and critical thinking. They can help with reviewing past material, applying curriculum to real-world problems, and maintaining student interest.

Capitalize on What Students Are Focused On

Why not start with what students may already be thinking about? Summer vacation. Planning a family road trip http://www.curriki.org/oer/Planning-a-Family-Road-Trip–Ratios-and-Proportions-in-Real-Life/ can be an effective scenario to practice applications of ratios and proportions. A weekend vacation project http://www.curriki.org/oer/Weekend-Vacation-Project/ can teach students about the finance concerns of a small trip and teach about staying within a budget.

Provide Activities Tied to the Real WorldHas the economy had an impact on your classroom?

Sometimes students will understand the applications and purpose of math concepts when they are connected to real world experiences. The Museum Exhibit Project http://www.curriki.org/oer/Museum-Exhibit-Project–A-3-Dimensional-Outcome-to-Research-Activitites-41917/ gives students the opportunity for alternative research in curating inclusions for a museum exhibit. They’ll further use Google Sketchup to create a 3 dimensional representation of the exhibit based off of their understanding of geometry. Architectural Planning with Pythagoras http://www.curriki.org/oer/Architectural-Planning-with-Pythagoras-63614 will have students utilize their knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem to help design a shelter for survival on a deserted island. In Real World Percentages: How Much Will It Take? http://www.curriki.org/oer/Percentages-Project/, students will get to examine the reality of having an income in the future and how it will influence the purchase of a car, the cost of a home, furnishing a home, etc. In Farmer’s Market http://www.curriki.org/oer/Unit-1-Project-Farmer’s-Market, students will relate business costs to algebraic expressions.

fractionsTurn Abstract Concepts into Creative Endeavors

The Cereal Project Lesson Plan http://www.curriki.org/oer/Cereal-Box-Project-Lesson-Plan-48182/ allows students to use their creativity to custom “design” their own cereal while applying fractions, ratios, and percentages. The Four Fours Project http://www.curriki.org/oer/Four-Fours-Project-Lesson-Plan-48168/ teaches students the order of operations through art design. Divide and Conquer—Warm Up, Searching for the token http://www.curriki.org/oer/Google-Divide-and-Conquer—Warm-Up-Searching-for-the-token engages students in a ‘divide-and-conquer’ strategy to solve the mystery of “stolen crystals” using decomposition to break the problem into smaller problems and algorithmic design to plan a solution strategy.

Don’t Forget About the Olympics This Summer

Proportional Reasoning: Lesson on Your Mark http://www.curriki.org/oer/Proportional-Reasoning-Lesson-On-Your-Mark/ will get students thinking about whether Olympic distant runners should run distances based on their personal heights. Unit 4 Project: Olympics http://www.curriki.org/oer/Unit-4-Project-Olympics/ gets students to apply algebraic expressions, inequalities, and systems of equations to sports.

However you need to close out the school year, remember it is possible to ensure you still provide valuable, interesting, and worthwhile instruction for all.

 

A Great Idea: Computer Science Workshops-in-a-Box

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Did you know that Oracle Academy is a terrific source of computer science educational resources for students and educators?  Oracle provides a variety of resources to students around the world (in 106 countries) that can be used in the classroom and in not-for-profit academic course and degree-related research.

An easy way to start is by checking out Oracle Academy Workshop in a Box, which is designed to facilitate the delivery of introductory computer science workshops by parents, volunteers, computer club sponsors and educators who may not specialize in teaching computer science.

It’s everything you need in one place:

Workshopinabox

You can begin with Getting Started with Java Using Alice, which is designed for students with little or no programming experience and teaches basic Java programming concepts through developing 3-D Animations in Alice 3.1 and Creating Java Programs with Greenfoot which engages students who understand basic programming concepts to create 2-D games using Java.

You can find thousands of other free STEM resources on Curriki.  Start planning what you’ll do with the upcoming summer months by browsing the Curriki site today. Here are a few resources to give you an idea of what’s available:

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A Healthier and Happier Student: Making Fitness a Priority in Education

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki Photo of Janet Pinto

Spring brings cherry blossoms and warmer weather, and the motivation to get ready for summer by engaging in a healthier lifestyle. These are valuable goals for ourselves, but we should also extend them to our children. Promoting a healthy lifestyle, by teaching our children about nutrition and fitness, is a vital part of a comprehensive education. Helping kids understand how to take care of their bodies sets them up for a future of both health and happiness. What could be more important than that?

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program focuses on getting kids to engage in regular physical activity and to make healthier choices with food. Research on child diabetes and obesity rates shows just how important instilling these healthy habits is for our future generations.

 

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, almost one in every three children in our nation is overweight or obese…If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives.

LetsMove.gov Fact Sheet

 

Encouraging our children to participate in sports is one way to help combat the growing obesity problem. However, as educators we can also promote physical activity within our own classrooms. Not only is this type of education valuable from a health perspective, it is also fun, engaging, and a unique way to bring something new to students’ educational environment.

If you’re looking for new ways to integrate health and fitness into your classroom’s curriculum, we have a great selection of resources for every age range.

Elementary & Middle School

High School

  • Social Studies Energizers All Ages – Ideas to help teachers incorporate exercise into all of the more traditional academic subject areas.
  • Human Body 101 Middle and High School – A course that can be taught as part of a basic Biology class. Educating teenagers about the impact of diet, fitness, and positive choices on their lives.
  • Health & Family Living – A critical-thinking course which helps students understand that good health impacts not only their physical well-being but also their emotional state.

Here’s to a healthy, fit, and happy 2016! We’d love to hear about how you integrate health and fitness into your classrooms in the coming year.

Oracle Academy Expands in India

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Oracle CEO Safra Catz

Reblogged in part from https://www.oracle.com/in/corporate/pressrelease/oracle-expands-commitment-in-india-20160212.html, which discusses Oracle’s expanded commitment in India, including Oracle Academy Expansion; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDagd9cMCD4

Oracle CEO Safra Catz met with Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi (12 February 2016) and announced three major investments that support the country’s global digital leadership. Catz unveiled a massive, state-of-the-art campus centered in Bengaluru, 9 incubation centers throughout India, and an initiative to train more than half a million students each year to develop computer science skills.

“Oracle has been in India for over 25 years and during that time we’ve grown our investments tremendously,” said Catz. “In fact, India now represents our second largest employee base outside of the United States, with nearly 40,000 current employees and an additional 2,000 current job openings. We are investing over $400 million USD in Bengaluru, opening 9 incubation centers, and training half a million students each year during this expansion phase to support India’s tremendous growth. We ‘Make in India’ for the rest of the world.”

“I’m particularly excited about the incubation centers which will house substantial software and technology capabilities, tools, and training to help launch new technology startups built utilizing Java and the Oracle platform,” said Catz.

“Increasing diversity and creating opportunities for women in technology starts with investing in STEM and computer science education for girls,” said Catz. “Student learning and training has been a focus at Oracle for more than 20 years, and we are expanding our curriculum to include girls-only programs.”

Nine Incubation Centers

To contribute to India’s “Start-up India” and “Make in India” initiatives, Oracle is opening nine incubation centers throughout the country. These centers will support entrepreneurship and development of innovative start-ups by providing software, tools, and training to new software and technology companies utilizing Java and the Oracle platform. These centers will be located in Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida, Pune, Trivandrum and Vijayawada.

Oracle Academy Expansion

In support of the prime minister’s “Digital India” and “Skill India” programs, Oracle Academy plans to engage with local schools and universities to train more than half a million students throughout India in computer science each year.

Oracle Academy currently partners with more than 1,700 educational institutions in India, to advance computer science education and drive knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. Through these collaborations, more than 3,000 India-based teachers were trained in Java and database last year alone. With today’s announcement, Oracle Academy aims to expand its partnerships to another 1,000 institutions in India, with a goal of reaching 500,000 students annually.

Worldwide, Oracle Academy trains more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries. In the past fiscal year, the program delivered nearly US $3.3 billion in resources globally to help prepare students for life and work in today’s modern technology-driven economy.

March 31 Webinar: How OERs Can Enrich Your Existing Curriculum

3-31 webinar

If you’re a K-12 teacher or educator, this webinar is for you.

By attending, you will learn how to use Open Educational Resources as effective components of your K-12 curriculum. Open Education Resources (OER) are free resources such as documents and media that are easy for teachers to share, use and reuse.

Join Janet Pinto, Curriki Chief Academic Officer, who will provide examples of the types of OER that are readily available including individual lesson plans, full courses, student facing materials, videos, interactives, and assessments/worksheets. During this live, interactive webinar presentation, you will have the chance to ask specific questions pertaining to your interests.

Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto

DATE: Thursday March 31, 2016

TIME: 1:00pmPDT/4:00pmEDT

REGISTER NOW: http://home.edweb.net/webinar/free-learning-resources-how-oer-can-help-you-and-your-students/

 

Computational Thinking: Free Professional Development Resources

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Curriki has developed, with support from AT&T, a free professional development course in Computational Thinking.

In a 2006 article, entitled Computational Thinking, Jeanette Wing argued that “computational thinking …represents a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use.. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability.”

While learning to code is popular right now, the thinking skills behind developing code are also critically essential for careers that don’t involve writing code. Computational Thinking is a set of skills and a process that can lead to a much better understanding of computing.

Computational Thinking defined

Computational Thinking (CT) involves some familiar concepts, such as problem decomposition, data representation, and modeling. CT can, but does not necessarily involve computers. When applied to computer science and coding, CT enables you to work out exactly what to tell the computer to get it to do what you want it to.

computational-thinking-white-bgIt means thinking logically, algorithmically and with the ability to apply mathematical concepts. And it means understanding concepts of scale and abstraction.

Benefits of Computational Thinking

If students are to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of how technology actually works, we should teach principles and theory, and how technology can be used to solve problems. CT means solving problems and designing systems in a way that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science.

CT is learning to think in ways which allow us to solve problems more effectively, and when appropriate, to use computers to help us do so. CT is important because it:

• Provides a framework to develop critical thinking across different fields

• Incorporates both creativity and efficiency into problem solving

• Allows students to interact with content-specific models and simulations (e.g., ecosystems, epidemics, molecular dynamics) to support learning and research

• Leads to IT fluency as opposed to IT literacy—moving students beyond being users of tools and information to becoming creators of tools and information (21st century skills)

• Develops job skills that lead to greater income

• Helps non-computer science people learn how to take advantage of the power of, and understand the limitations of, computers

• Applies to all subject areas—and allows students to advance

• Doesn’t require changing curricula or new technologies

A skill set in problem solving using Computational Thinking opens doors for anyone in any area. Curriki is making computer science education possible for all students regardless of zip code and empowering them will skills that will be critical to the jobs of today and tomorrow.

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Free professional development training

Curriki is providing free professional development training in Computational Thinking for middle and high school teachers, with support from AT&T.

“We want to help all students develops the skills to succeed in school and the careers of the future. Ensuring educators have the resources and tools they need to teach those skills is a critical step in making this happen,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of Social Innovation at AT&T.

Curriki, the Open Educational Resources Library and Community, is offering a self-paced professional development course for K-12 teachers interested in learning how to infuse Computational Thinking (CT) into their classes.

• The CT professional development course is free and available on the Curriki website: www.curriki.org/oer/Computational-Thinking-Resources

• Created primarily for teachers at the middle school and high school levels, all K-12 educators will benefit from taking the course.

• Any teacher can take the course, including homeschool teachers.

• The self-paced online course provides teachers with a comprehension of CT and with the tools they need to get started right away.

• This self-paced course provides flexible professional development opportunities for educators who can work at their own pace and time frame.

• Teachers will examine the components of CT and explore how to introduce CT skills to their students.

• The concepts of CT may be applied to current curriculum, project-based learning (PBL) projects, and STEM classes.

• CT can be used to solve problems in any area or field.

• Problem solving through CT is such a critically important skill it is directly or indirectly addressed by several sets of educational standards including:

o Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards

o Next Generation Science Standards

•  AT&T generously funded the development of this course.

We encourage you to take benefit of this free professional development course in Computational Thinking from Curriki.

Second Semester Middle School Language Arts Instructional Ideas and Activities

By Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia Lani

If you are a middle school language arts teacher, you are probably rounding up ideas to keep students engaged as temperatures warm up. However, usually the latter half of the school year has a strong focus on writing. We’ve rounded up some of the best resources to help you get started on your planning and keep students focused!

April is National Poetry Month

poetry

Poetry writing seems to be one of the least intimidating methods to introduce students to using language to express ideas. The National Endowment for the Humanities offers a wide variety of resources for supplementing your poetry instruction. Discover poetry from around the world and history including Persia, India, and Japan. In The Power of Poetry, take a closer look at renowned poets including, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes. Emily Dickinson: An American Poet for All Seasons provides research and information celebrating the beloved American author. In addition, ReadWriteThink offers a variety of lesson plans in April is National Poetry Month! focused on poetry instruction for K-12.

Are you looking to derive a solid approach to teaching poetry? Check out Language and Literacy: The Poetry Connection conceptual framework for building language through poetry. It also includes a middle school lesson on comparing poetry and prose.

Looking for lessons and activities tied to specific works of poetry? Curriki member Angela Greenwell offers a collection of middle school activities based on popular poetry including that of Dickinson, Longfellow, and Keats.

 

Additional poetry lesson plans and ideas for your classroom:

The Limerick Factory from Annenberg Learner limerick

National Poetry Month: Forms of Poetry

What is Poetry? UbD unit from Trinity University

Lesson Plan: Poetry Writing Collection – Make haiku, limerick, and pattern poems

Poetry Scavenger Hunt

 

It is Research Paper Season!

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Is a research paper in the near future for your students? A Curriki member offers the Kim Aher: Research Paper Lesson Plan,  which helps get students acquainted with the research process after reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Do you have students ready to change the world with their research? What’s Your Problem?” Research Project uses the understanding by design framework to help students conduct research on a social or environmental issue.

Perhaps you need tools to thoroughly cover the basics of the research process with your students? Here are some of our favorites:

If general writing technique guidelines and strategies are needed in your classroom, try The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide and The Writing Process Made Easier, a lesson plan covering elements of writing and includes visual guides.

In addition, engage students in understanding the author’s purpose in this lesson plan. Teach narrative writing through this assignment on Eleanor Roosevelt. Take narrative writing a step further using the Personal Narrative Writing Assignment to help students learn about sequenced writing. Expository writing can be made fun again in this understanding by design unit from Trinity University Cause and Effect: Using Expository Writing to Problem Solve. You can even cover all your bases with these expository writing worksheets and graphic organizers.

Remember that the open-ended nature of writing leads to many possibilities for your classroom. What’s your favorite poetry or writing assignment for middle school students?

Math Humor on Pi Day (March 14)

pi day 2016

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Bring some fun into the classroom on Monday, March 14, in celebration of Pi Day! Here’s a joke for your elementary students: Did you know that 3.14% of Sailors are PI rates? (Ba-dam, Bing!).

Seriously, we’ve put together a short collection of Pi resources (grades K-12) for you to use, share, or modify to suit your needs. You can find the collection here, or begin by checking out a few highlighted resources below.

  • Track Races activity – (Grades 6-10) Use Properties of rational and irrational numbers to track races (graphic organizer/worksheet).
  • Circumference and Diameter (Grades 3-10, by MathMastery) – Understanding the equation for finding circumference helps you solve measurement problems in everyday life.
  • Intermediate Level Measurement Math Kit – (Grades 3-8) Gives students the opportunity to measure various objects and use their data to determine area, volume, radius, diameter, and density.

P.S. If you need more laughs, check out the Pi Day resources on Pinterest.

pi day pinterest

 

 

7 Tips that will make You a Guru in Open Educational Resources

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki.By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A more flexible and adaptable and even personalized approach to teaching is now available, by incorporating Open Educational Resources (OER) in the classroom. Curriki is a leader in providing K-12 OER to anyone, anywhere, at no cost.

Here are 7 tips for using OER. Use any 3 of these and you will already be a Guru of OER!

1. Use OER to supplement textbooks in those areas that are weak or have limited coverage. Benefit: stronger syllabus

2. Use OER as a source for, and/or to enhance, homework assignments. Benefit: better assignments

3. Use OER for a classroom project or for some portion of a project. Benefit: improved projects

4. Modify OER to your requirements and reshare with the global education community. Benefit: content adapted to your need and you help others

5. Assign OER content to help students who are struggling with a topic, or conversely those who want to explore a topic in further detail. Benefit: personalized learning

6. Use OER as a full course (if you are not mandated otherwise), or as a supplementary unit in a course. Benefit: free standards-aligned full courses

7. Search on Curriki for the best resources to meet your requirements. Benefit: choice of tens of thousands of resources means a high likelihood of finding an applicable resource

Open Educational Resources

Curriki has tens of thousands of OER classified and searchable by subject area, type of resource, format, standards-alignment, ratings and recommendations and more. Employ some of these free resources in your classroom this month!