Creating an Inclusive Environment for Computational Thinking

Educator cultivates a learning environment that provides students opportunities to build knowledge and express themselves through computational thinking.
Made by Digital Promise Computational Thinking
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator encourages all students to engage with computational thinking by creating learning opportunities and supporting learners’ identities.

Method Components

Creating learning opportunities

Learning involves participating in a community of practice—that is, a group of individuals who engage in a common set of activities and share a common set of interests. Following this definition, creating learning opportunities for computational thinking means ensuring students have access to activities, tools, communities, and spaces where computational thinking is in use. Students typically begin learning through low-stakes participation in a community of practice. For example, students may initially take on simplified activities and use tools that are designed to be accessible to beginners. As students become more experienced and participate more centrally in the community of practice, they take on roles such as mentors, leaders, planners, and experts.

Computational thinking is still unevenly distributed in schools and communities. Therefore, providing computational thinking learning opportunities to students may mean seeking out or cultivating activities, tools, communities, and spaces where computational thinking is used and supporting students’ participation in them.

Supporting learners' identities

As computers and software have reshaped our society and become more visible in popular media, computational thinking has become associated with certain stereotypes. For example, computing is sometimes seen as being for males, for white people, for native English speakers, for antisocial people, or only for extremely intelligent geeks or nerds. Whether or not these stereotypes reflect the truth, their existence presents real barriers to learning: a student who feels they do not belong in a space is less likely to participate in its activities. Teachers of computational thinking have an obligation to broaden participation by actively working to understand how students view computation and taking steps to counteract exclusionary stereotypes.

Suggested Implementation

  1. Read over the submission requirements before starting to ensure that you will be able to collect the evidence you need to curate a strong portfolio.
  2. Start by working on Part 1 of the assessment. Take advantage of the resources around you at your school and beyond.
  3. When considering how to create computational thinking learning opportunities, meet with your school’s librarian or librarians in the community. Meet with teachers who advise relevant clubs. Invite a group of students to join you for lunch and interview them about where and how they use computers or smartphones.
  4. When considering how to support students’ identities as learners of computational thinking, talk with your students. Ask them about the futures they imagine for themselves and how they make distinctions between different social groups at school. It can be helpful in interviews to ask students to draw a social map of the school, explain who hangs out where, and describe the different groups. It can be particularly helpful to interview students in different contexts, as students are often very different people in class, during free time with friends, in out-of-school organizations, and with their families.
  5. Use what you learn completing Part 1 to plan what you might do to create learning opportunities and support students’ identities as learners of computational thinking. It can be helpful to brainstorm with colleagues. Consider the resources you have access to: classroom time, classroom space and other spaces within the school such as libraries and computer labs, people you know, the authority to approach local businesses. Consider also resources students may be able to share, such as family stories, expertise in activities that rarely get attention in school, parents, and family members.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Creating learning opportunities

  • Gee, J. P. (2005). Semiotic Social Spaces and Affinity Spaces: From The Age of Mythology to Today’s Schools. Barton, D. & Tusting, K., eds. In Beyond Communities of Practice: Language, Power, and Social Context, Chicago.
    http://bit.ly/2f3Vn9Z
  • Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
    http://www.umsl.edu/~wilmarthp/modla-links-2011/Situated-Cognition.pdf
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press. Summary:
    http://derrel.net/readings/SituatedLearning.htm
  • Ma, J. Y., & Munter, C. (2014). The Spatial Production of Learning Opportunities in Skateboard Parks. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 21(3), 238-258.

Supporting learners' identities

  • Barron, B., Wise, S., & Martin, C. K. (2013). Creating Within and Across Life Spaces: The Role of a Computer Clubhouse in a Child’s Learning Ecology. In LOST Opportunities (pp. 99-118). Springer Netherlands.
  • Buechley, L., Eisenberg, M., Catchen, J., & Crockett, A. (2008, April). The LilyPad Arduino: Using Computational Textiles to Investigate Engagement, Aesthetics, and Diversity in Computer Science Education. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 423-432). ACM.
    http://highlowtech.org/publications/buechley_CHI_08.pdf
  • Garcia, A., & Morrell, E. (2013). City youth and the pedagogy of participatory media. Learning, Media and Technology, 38(2), 123-127.
    http://bit.ly/2xjihAG
  • Maloney, J. H., Peppler, K., Kafai, Y., Resnick, M., & Rusk, N. (2008). Programming by Choice: Urban Youth Learning Programming with Scratch (Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 367-371). ACM.
  • Margolis, J., & Fisher, A. (2003). Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. MIT press.
  • Margolis, J., Estrella, R., Goode, J., Holme, J. J., & Nao, K. (2010). Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing. MIT Press.

Resources

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential, you must earn a “passing” evaluation for Parts 1 and 3, and a “Yes” for each component of Part 2. In the assessment of this micro-credential, an educator will submit a portfolio of artifacts documenting how they help students learn computational thinking by creating learning opportunities and supporting students’ identities as learners. The portfolio should also provide evidence of how these efforts have affected students.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(400-word limit total)

Please answer the following questions about your teaching context. In Part 2, you will be asked to connect your responses to these descriptions of your students and their learning environments.

  • Who are your students? What are their skills, interests, aspirations, concerns, and needs? Which of these assets might support their identities as learners of computational thinking? What stereotypes might be barriers to students’ participation in computational thinking?
  • Describe the learning environments your students have access to, inside and outside of school and online. What activities, tools, communities, and spaces might offer computational thinking learning opportunities? What inequities exist in students’ access to these learning opportunities?

Part 2. Work Examples / Artifacts

To earn this micro-credential, please submit the following:

1) Portfolio

Submit a portfolio that documents your efforts to support students in learning computational thinking within your classroom and beyond the classroom. The portfolio should contain evidence of creating computational thinking learning opportunities as well as supporting students’ identities as learners of computational thinking. For example, the portfolio may include an annotated lesson or unit plan, evidence of a new community partnership or mentorship program, annotated pictures of physical changes to the classroom environment, student reflections, documentation of a personalized learner pathways that were cocreated by student and teacher, etc.

2) Analysis of portfolio

(800-word limit total)

As you answer the following questions, refer to specific evidence from the portfolio and indicate how these efforts impacted students.

  • Creating learning opportunities
    • Explain the work you did to increase students’ access to computational thinking learning opportunities, grounding your explanation in the student learning environments you described in Part 1.
    • How did students use these learning opportunities to increase their participation in computational thinking? Using evidence from the portfolio, explain the effect on student learning.
  • Supporting learners’ identities
    • Explain the work you did to support students’ identities as learners of computational thinking, grounding your explanation in the student identities you described in Part 1.
    • How did this support affect students? Using evidence from the portfolio, explain the effect on student learning.

Part 3. Educator Reflection

(400-word limit)

What inequities still exist in students’ opportunities to participate in computational thinking? Are these related to access to learning opportunities, related to learners’ identities, or are they caused by something else? Describe the steps that could be taken to address these issues, and any future plans you have to be part of this work.


Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Requirements

Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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