Elements of Computer Science in 3rd – 5th Grade
What should we see in a computer science enrichment or club?
A 3rd – 5th-grade computer science related opportunity should:
- Build a team and collaborative skills while problem-solving,
- Connect that computer programming (coding) is an iterative process,
- Recognize the societal impacts of computing,
- Code and/or produce solutions using physical computing devices,
- Explain how networks and systems work,
- Solve problems by creating a model/representation (objects are created) and during the activity properties are assigned to it (abstraction),
- Extend previous learning and reuse ideas to solve problems (recycle code),
- Chunk complex tasks into more manageable subtasks (decomposition). Solutions are developed by combining smaller subtasks,
- Identify and articulate solutions through a series of steps (algorithmic thinking). Instructions are correctly sequenced. Iteration is learned through sequence repetition multiple times,
- Identify when directions are not matching actions required (debugging). Edit and fix flaws,
- be engaging by incorporating more active learning strategies,
- provide opportunities for students to communicate verbally and in writing using computer science terminology,
- develop computational thinking skills, and
- recognize student accomplishments.
What resources are needed for a computer science enrichment or club?
The following resources may be included with a computer science related activity:
- space to allow students to collaborate with others,
- moveable tables to allow students to be seated in small working groups,
- faculty member to facilitate activities and supervise students,
- community members to serve as volunteers to increase student support,
- hardwired PCs, laptops, or Chromebook that provide consistent access to the Internet, and
- student whiteboards (laminate cardstock) for collaboration and flexibility to solve problems.
How can we make this environment welcoming for our diverse learners?
- Provide positive examples of computer scientists with diverse backgrounds.
- Create lessons that are gender neutral.
- Develop learning opportunities that take into consideration various points of view through classroom/group discussions.
- Give individualized, critical feedback (“growth mindset”) with a targeted suggestion on how a project could be improved.
- Remove visual cues and examples that may lead to stereotype threat.
- Employ meaningful and relevant content (student voice and choice).
- Address misconception about the field of computer science that may propagate gender, racial, and other social stereotypes.
- Group students by level of experience in computing.
- Foster social networks for studying and for support, and practice working in teams.
What benefits do students gain from participating in computer science experiences?
- Increase confidence when using computers.
- Instill courage to try new things.
- Grow perseverance when tackling difficult problems.
- Provide a sense of belonging to technology for underrepresented students.
- Demonstrate the impact that CS has on careers and communities.