What is it about coding and robotics that supports struggling math students to succeed ?
The United States has dismal math scores and students are failing math at alarming rates affecting their ability to take higher level math and science classes. Algebra 1 has been called the gatekeeper to these higher level Math and science classes. This creates an equity issue if students are missing out on the opportunity to take these higher level courses. There is a need to present Math 1 in more innovative manner that engages students in creating while learning math which demonstrates learning. Coding creates that opportunity, students are creating lines of code to solve their math 1 content equations. These students are learning a valuable skill coding while applying their math 1 content standards.
Sociocultural Prespective: Students play video games and use technology all day long, so it is familiar to them. Society surrounds us with technology it is a social norm for many to be on their phones for hours at a time. During this study I realized that even though students are interacting with technology regularly it doesn't mean they have a deep understanding of how that technology is created, used to full the potential, or the opportunities it could hold for their future. Many of my students had little knowledge about what coding is and how it is connected to all the technology they use daily. There was also a lack of understanding about how coding knowledge could help prepare them for the current and future job market. I also found that we still have many students who have no internet or computers at home. Cellphones have really provided important access to technology and the world for our young people. These realities make coding something of value, the use of the technology is motivating. For some students they are aware of the value in the workforce of know some basic coding these students are learning a new language Ch C++.
Another important part of this study is that all of the students taking Math 1 in my class have failed 2-4 semesters of Math 1. These students feel defeated before they walk in my classroom; so why would I want to welcome them with the same old math book and methods ? The students deserve a new approach which is what the coding and robotics provides for them while also learning C++ and other valuable soft skills.
Technical Perspective: Coding is very step by step, logical and it builds on prior knowledge. To experience success students must problem solve to debug their codes which teaches them perseverance. The process of teaching coding is so much like our reading of Clark very step by step with repetition and a clear application. As I read Clark and Dervin I have often thought of how learning coding fits these models which could explain some of my students' success. The instructional design model the Pebble in the Pond ( see below) is how we approach coding in class. Students are presented with a problem or coding challenge then the must analyze it, create a strategy , designing or writing the line of code, and finally producing of running the code to see if you received the desired results. Again since learning coding follows these models so closely maybe that is why I am experiencing success with teaching coding to my struggling math learners.
Educational and Informational: If the code was written successfully it will run giving students immediate feedback which is an important component to student success. Students are learning Math 1 concepts while learning coding skills as well as the language C++ . Coding literacy is a new language and everyone is on the same level learning together which creates a level playing field for my students which could also be contributing to their success. All year the students were learning the same concepts they failed to understand in previous classes: what was different was they were highly engaged, actively solving real life problems, and experiencing success in math.
The SITE model set of questions really made me think more about individuals needs is a structured and organized way. I have always made modifications and really tried to understand students needs but actually taking the time to ask them all and giving them a voice in this process is awesome and fellow teachers we all need a system for doing this and I recommend the SITE model for helping you.
The following questions are my End User Focus:
1. Who are the learners?
2. What values do the learners hold?
3. What will motivate the learner?
4. Which tools, systems, and techniques will assist learners to realize goals or values that are important to them ?
5. How do these tools, systems, and techniques form paths to goal achievement?
6. How will learners recognize opportunities offered by tools and techniques and how will learners perceive these tools and techniques might be linked to their goals and values?
7. What skills do learners need to access information and knowledge about how to achieve their goals to uphold their values?
8. What assistance would improve this access?
We looked at many models of lesson design in this program as well which really helped to give me a new perspective on lesson planning . Here is the link to the presentation that my group created. Pebble in the Pond.
Design Prototype Think Sheet
This link will take you to my Think Sheet where you can see my brainstorming .
Prototype Of Capstone
The is a prototype of my Capstone Project. This study had two main components which were Coding and Robotics and Growth Mindset approach to teaching. My main focus was on teaching math with Coding and Robotics but I find it critically important to incorporate the use of Growth Mindset pedagogy while teaching any topic. The Growth Mindset work is especially important for students who have experienced repeated failure and lack confidence in their abilities.
Please Click the image it will take you to a larger image of my design.
Capstone Brainstorm Video
This video illustrates my brainstorming before embarking on the Capstone creation.