School Name: Conrad Elementary School
School District: SD#52 Prince Rupert
Inquiry Team Members:ParamJit Khaira (paramJit.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Raymond Wong (email@example.com)
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM, Transitions, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The implementation of Computational Thinking (CT) across the curriculum to develop and extend students’ problem-solving skills.
Scanning: The scanning process began with a student and progressively to the rest of the class. The next step involved explanations of why the questions were asked to the students. Adaptations to the wording of the questions were made which helped the students answered the questions. The responses were verbatim and assisted in our approach for the inquiry.
The importance of the diverse experiences of our students played a key role for the team. The students’ diverse experiences included and are not limited to their learning styles, social-emotional development, interest, social responsibility, and intrinsic motivators.
Regarding the OECD principles in the scanning process, three main questions for each of the principles were used:
(1) What are we doing well to promote learning?
(2) How do we know if we are promoting learning?
(3) What do we think about next?
Regarding the First Peoples Principles of Learning in the scanning process (FPPL), three principles were greatly used:
(1) Learning involves patience and time.
(2) Learning is holistic, reflexive, experiential and relational.
(3) Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
Focus: Part of our teaching philosophy is having a growth mindset which is where CT comes in. There is an interest in diving deep into CT as an instructional strategy for developing problem-solving skills and to better understand the extend of CT in the BC curriculum while keeping in mind that each student progresses differently.
Hunch: Caring and excellent support staff (e.g. Learning Services, Educational Assistants, and Speech Language Therapy) helped positively contributed to the experiences of our students.
New Professional Learning: Attended CT workshops within and outside of our district. Explored books, academic journal articles, literature, and videos relating to CT for our grade level and beyond. Collaborated with colleagues and gained new insights from professionals, instructors were the most helpful for our inquiry.
The student-centered learning design model called RASE (Resources/Activity/Support/Evaluation) was one of the many supports used. Keep in mind that not everything in the RASE model were used. Key underlying pedagogies from the RASE model were extrapolated and used for supports while combining other pedagogical designs that worked for the inquiry. The Reflective Teacher Model was a very helpful design that emphasize the development of teachers as a reflective practitioner for our teaching learning journey. The five Reflective Teacher Model components are: (1) Knowledge of Self, (2) Knowledge of Students, (3) Knowledge of Pedagogy, (4) Knowledge of Curriculum, and (5) Knowledge of Schools.
Taking Action: Students in the grade 2 class began learning CT as a problem-solving process at a rudimentary level for the four elements: (1) Abstraction, (2) Decomposition, (3) Pattern Recognition (PR), and (4) Algorithm. The class started learning the first CT element- Decomposition. For example, the teacher molded a caterpillar out of plasticine from the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. A picture of the molded caterpillar was then projected onto the digital whiteboard (SMART board) for the class to see. Accompanying the picture was a physical model of the molded caterpillar in plasticine. A class discussion followed of how we would take deconstruct and construct the caterpillar. The students were given a chance to mold their own caterpillar, followed by molding the other stages of the butterfly to complete the life cycle. Decomposition also got integrated into the classroom routine such as going over the daily schedule and volunteering weekly helpers. This was one of the many examples.
One example for the second CT element, PR, occurred when teaching a science lesson about force. The lesson was taught about how to build parachutes and another science lesson involved constructing cardboard cars with working wheels. When it came time for students to build a project for the Egg Drop Challenge, students used the skills obtained from prior lessons (e.g., building parachutes and constructing cardboard cars) to build a parachute attached to cardboard box with an egg cushioned inside. Another example of PR occurred when the class did station rotation, and this can be applied across the curriculum to improve PR skills. As students got better with PR, they looked for patterns to save time and some looked for patterns learned from certain lessons. Abstraction and Algorithm followed and each of the four elements gradually progressed to more complex assignments and projects while having extensions. Throughout the year, plugged activities were incorporated. The plugged activities allowed students to learn how to problem solve in another modality such as using robotics (e.g., Ozobots and Spheros) and using various iPad applications (e.g., ScratchJr, Box Island, and LightBot) to build and expand problem solving skills. To ensure learning was rich, CT was used in place-based education, experiential learning, project-based learning, and outdoor education. The students in the grade 2 class also became mentors for the other grade 2 to 3 students when classes collaborated in plugged and unplugged activities.
Checking: All students were able to engage in CT as a problem-solving process by learning the four CT elements. Students were seen combining the elements in combinations of 2,3, and/or 4 while other students chose to focus on one element at a time to problem solve. All students began learning at the core foundations for each of the four CT elements. Students progressed at varying levels and differentiate instructions met their learning needs for the most part to the best of their capabilities. Students were able to experienced new ways of learning problem solving skills because of how we implemented varying learning modalities. Students provided much richer answers to what they would like to tell others about how they are doing with their learning. Students began to see the relationship of CT between life inside and outside of the school.
Reflections/Advice: We would like to dive deeper into CT and further explore how CT can develop and extend students’ problem-solving skills across the curriculum. CT is among one of the many instructional designs out there that can be combined, extrapolated and integrated with other pedagogical strategies to develop and extend students’ problem-solving skills. CT can be used for place-based education, project-based learning, and outdoor education. Social-emotional learning can be combined with CT and further explored. Looking at the BC curriculum for Physical Education, the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) approach can also be combined with CT and explored too.