Sunday, July 26, 2020

2020 #VWEDU: Think like a coder. Think like a planner. Think like digital teaching assistant (DTA). Computational thinking is really concrete planning.

Think like a coder.  Think like a planner.  
Think like  digital teaching assistant (DTA). 
Computational thinking is really concrete planning.

Coding is really concrete planning.  It has two advantages:  It is a marketable skill and it can be taught mostly by computer.   Here is a video designed to introduce the ideas of programming to children. It also illustrates how the DTA can be used in teaching beginners. 

The role of the DTA

  • In this episode, the DTA plays the role of the mentor (think Yoda) . 
  • Because this episode is a play, the DTA actions can be planned in advance.
  • In this episode, the student merely sees a problem being solved.
  • Children learn by imitation, so this can be a learning experience.
  • But further learning requires active use of what has been learned.
  • For active learning the DTA would present problems and coach the student to figure out solutions.
  • Coding mistakes can be caught by the computer, so practice costs nothing.
  • And the computer can give immediate feedback.  

The narrative as instructional strategy

  • The narrative starts by presenting the problem in human terms.  
  • Traditional instruction starts with an assignment to learn about iterative loops.  
  • The narrative presents a problem and shows how an iterative loop solves it.
  • The narrative presents learning as problem-solving. 


Expand the role of the learner

  • Active learning requires that the learner do something.
  • Here that would mean that the learner participate in problem-solving.
  • In the narrative, the DTA asks the learner for help.
  • "What procedure do I use here?"
  • With a situation like Episode 1, the correct answer would be an iteration loop.
  • The DTA might offer a list of procedures for the student to select from.
  • The DTA can immediately evaluate the response.
  • What if it is wrong?  My preference is that the DTA gives a hint. 
  • The DTA has an ordered list from barely helpful to really obvious.
  • The student's score depends on how many hints were needed.
  • Thus the student benefits from knowing the answer immediately.
  • The DTA tracks each student's hint needs for each challenge.
  • Students who need hints, get another challenge that requires a similar answer.
  • Thus the objective is the bring all students to mastery.

Breadwinner thinking



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