Thursday, 15 February 2018

Seeing Behind the Code

I have been thinking a lot about how to make to connections to coding in mathematics in a meaningful way for my learners that builds Vocabulary and supports collaborations. 

As a result of this question that has been sitting on my mind I did what I have become so good at doing... I researched. Often when I go out looking for inspiration from literature I struggled to find something that really makes me think and gives me ideas, but today I was in luck. 

I can across some research conducted in Dutch primary school that focused on an event called "the Big Mathematics Day." In 2016 this day had a theme of "Let's have a look behind code". 

It talked about how they used CS plugged activities to help learners develop computational thinking, through understanding patterns, algorithms and use and compression of data. They found that this day inspired learners and gave them an opportunity to inquire collaboratively to develop their understanding of the concepts behind coding. 

One activity they describe was using code to create images by showing which pixels are turn on and off. Then building to create more detailed images. 

Can you see the squares I have missed?
Understanding patterns and identifying errors are a big part of coding and these are also skills central to mathematical thinking. 

My takeaways from this article:
  • This article has some great activities that are designed to get kids thinking mathematically while creating and following process. 
  • The collaborative nature of coding, we often think of computer program as something that someone does, but this article looking at the way "the Big Mathematics Day" was run and the social skills required would may anyone rethink that. The task required learners to support each other by checking their programs and discussing in meaningful ways the big ideas behind the code. 
  • "Realistic Mathematic Education" this was a pedagogy discussed in the article that talked about the importance of human activity, student being the centre of mathematical thinking inquiring and  testing concepts that are meaningful to them. 
This article re-enforced my thinking around my Inquiry. I believe that starting with these hands on tasks and developing and understanding of concepts in a way that links mathematical thinking and development of social skills is an important starting place for my inquiry.  

Thanks Mieke Abels, Vincent Jonker, Ronald Keijzer & Monica Wijers for this wonderful article. You can read it here

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