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Computational Thinking and Beyond!

This week a team from the CODERS group from Missouri State University visited schools in Dallas and Skyline, Missouri. Students from 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th grade had the opportunity to think, learn and create projects that pertain to Computational Thinking skills. Each class had between twenty to twenty-five students. Students were eager to welcome the speakers, Ms. Wolf, Ms. Thiesen, Ms. Howe, and Ms. Thompson had been mentioning prior to the visit. It was motivating to experience such genuine hospitality which certainly facilitated a smooth teaching and learning process.

The class began with a prior knowledge activation activity. Students had to fill the first two columns of a KWL chart and debrief with the team of CODERS. Questions on what they wanted to learn varied depending on their grade levels. For instance, they were interested on how the hardware looked inside and on how the first computers looked like. Our group briefly answered a few of them before class moved on. The class proceeded to work in groups. Students were instructed to write a set of five commands, on sequential and logical order for someone to accomplish a task or a goal. Students were given different objects such as playdough, cups, plates, toy cars, and papers to use for this activity. Students wrote directions and then advanced to build following the directions they had written. Satellites, cup towers, playdough computers, handwriting highways for the toy cars were some of the final products. An introduction to Scratch followed. Students proceeded to build their own virtual world according to their wants. They chose their own codes for their sprite to perform the assigned tasks as they had practiced in writing before.

Class ended with a written reflection in the last column of their KWL chart (LEARN). Some of the answers included “how to give orders”, “how to play with Scratch”, “How to make my sprite move and talk” and others included cultural knowledge such as “How far India and Mexico are”. Students were excited and closed the lesson with a quick “floss” dance. The CODERS are ready to come back to these classes for more teaching, learning, and fun.

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