Accessible & Adaptable Computer Science Instruction

As Computer Science becomes part of K-8 instruction, teachers will need to adapt lessons to make them accessible to students with a broad range of physical, learning and neurological abilities. In the current module of our class, “Digital Learning Environments,” I wanted to examine how the ISTE Standard for Coaches 3, indicator d, “Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning” (ISTE, 2011) could be applied to teaching Computer Science.

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Physical Computing

Figure 1: Garden creatures created by 4th and 5th graders come to life using BBC micro:bits connected to ultrasonic sensors and motors.

Physical computing – programming small microcomputers and combining them with electrical and non-electrical materials – engages students in ways that coding alone doesn’t. Intangible onscreen code suddenly makes something happen in the real world: a wheel turns, a light goes on, a point is scored and displayed above the soccer game you’ve built. In the process, students collaborate, solve real world problems and see for themselves how the devices we use in our daily lives really work.

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Making in Elementary: Finding the Balance

As part of the Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 1 class in the
SPU Digital Education Leadership program, I wanted to investigate best practices for designing meaningful elementary makerspace projects that balance student engagement, empowerment, and self-efficacy while avoiding the frustration that can be caused by open-ended projects and challenging technology.

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