Introduction to Computational Thinking pīkau (Years 7-10)
Tim and Johnson discuss how you can recognise opportunities to weave computational thinking into your learning program and grow these learning opportunities. This short presentation highlights what's available in Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko's pīkau around computational thinking that relates to teaching year 7 to 10 students, and how what you learn supports you in your teaching.
Introduction to Computational Thinking pīkau
Sound of burning fire in the background
Text on screen: Kia Takatu a-Matihiko Digital Readiness - Introduction to Computational Thinking Pīkau Years 7-10
(On screen is the opening slide and two facilitators who will be presenting - Johnson Keast and Tim Bell)
Johnson: Kia ora, welcome to this short video on the introduction to the CT Pīkau years 7-10. Johnson Keast is my name, I’m from Otautahi here in Christchurch. I work for CORE Education, and I’m working on this series with Tim Bell.
Tim: Kia ora Tatou, my name is Tim Bell and I’m at the University of Canterbury here in Ōtautahi, in Christchurch. What we’re going to do here is give you a very brief overview of some of these Pīkau that are available in the Kia Takatū program. Pīkau just means backpack. It’s a collection of stuff to help you get started on your journey in Digital Technologies.
So just as an overview, the way that the curriculum is set up is that there are these progress outcomes and we are particularly focused on the ones for Computational Thinking. Within Computational Thinking there’s actually eight progress outcomes altogether that are specified, but today we are especially going to focus on progress outcomes 3 to 5 (highlighted on the screen), which are the ones that apply to the junior high school / intermediate school boundary. You’ll see this chart here, you don’t need to read it, but there’s a lot more detail available on the website. There’s quite a lot of material in there. It looks like a lot, but it can all be unpacked and it’s all kind of fun to work through with kids.
Now the pīkau that we have on the Kia Takatū project, there’s a couple of dozen of them and they cover all sorts of different topics. The ones that I have up here are about eight background ones that explain why we are doing Digital Technologies and how Computational Thinking fits in, in particular. Today the ones that I want to focus on are the ones relevant to years 7-10. There are seven of them in particular. The first of them that we are going to talk about is number eight that’s available online. That’s about making the computer do the work, it looks at the idea of loops and computer programs. We have some examples of what kids have done, also look at the concept of variables and how they work in programs.
Then Pīkau 9 - we’ve titled that Getting programs right, and particularly thinking about the end-user and making the program run fast. Again, when you dig into the pīkau there are videos, examples, and exercises you can do with students that help them to understand what it’s like for the person who is going to be using the software. Also debugging is something that is really important. We look at some questions you can ask your students to help them with debugging. And then evaluating algorithms, how on earth does that work and how would you do that with students? It turns out there’s some really interesting things that come up and a few surprises in there, but it’s all things again that use pretty straight-forward ideas that students can get their head around. Then interfaces - how do you make sure that the person using it finds the system really easy to use? We want our students to be critical users of interfaces as well as developers of ones that people find easy to use.
Pīkau 10 is about communicating when programming because programming is as much about literacy as it is about the technical side of things. You need to be able to write good comments about what you’re doing, you need to choose good names for variables, and so on. We also look at Progress Outcome 5. The idea that we have comparative operators, that we’re comparing values within programs, and it explores a bunch of those ideas. Progress Outcome 5 is aimed at roughly what we’d expect year 10 students to be doing. It is reasonably advanced by curriculum standards although the concepts themselves are reasonably straightforward.
We look at them in a little bit of detail so you can unpack them and see how they might look in a classroom.
Pīkau 15, we look at binary numbers, how they work, why they’re important and why you would even care about them or teach them to students. There’s a fun activity. Many of the videos within these pīkau are done with my colleague here, Joanne, who is a primary school teacher. There are a lot of videos of her working with kids on these exercises, so you get to visualise what it would look like in a classroom.
Then we have a whole pīkau that looks carefully at human computer interaction (HCI). About how interfaces affect us and how you can critically look at an interface and make decisions rather than just saying “It's a pain to use”. What are the ways that we can measure the quality of an interface? There’s a fun video in there that one of my students, Hayley, who pretends that she is in a restaurant where the waiter acts like a computer interface and hilarity ensues, in this case. Usually when interfaces go bad it’s far from funny because it stops you from getting your job done and it stops you being able to do something that you need to do urgently.
Pīkau 17: Comparing algorithms. We look at how you can actually take two different algorithms that achieve exactly the same thing and work out which one is the fastest, and what do we mean by a fast algorithm? We work through some exercises, and again this is Progress Outcome 5 so aimed at senior students where they can draw graphs of how the speed changes as you give it more and more data. We also touch on some algorithms that are so slow that essentially aren’t useful. When we look at this one here (highlighted on the screen) which runs for 3,800,000,000 years, it will finish but I don’t think any of us would be interested in the result. How is that a thing? How can that happen? Computers are meant to be fast, so we will look into that.
Pīkau 18, we look at this idea of error detection and correction. All of the data that is on computers has this error detection and correction applied to it so that when you download things or scan things or store things you can be pretty sure that you’ll get back exactly what was intended. We start off with a magic trick where the students think that there is some bizarre kind of thing going on, but then we also look at things like bar codes - very explicit data available there - you can see the binary digits, they're black and white; and experiments you can do with those to illustrate these ideas, as well as the good old product code that is on every can of tomato sauce and soup and so on. Everyday things right under students eyes and ways that you can get them to think about: "What's really going on there? What's the computational thinking behind that?".
Now I'm going to hand over to Johnson because to use these of course, you need to be able to get into it. Johnson maybe you can guide us through how to do that. (Slide 12)
Johnson: Kia ora. As you can see this is the Kia Takatū website and I am currently logged in as myself, Johnson Keast.
(On screen: points the cursor to his name on the screen. Johnson interacts with the website explaining how to find the Pīkau/Toolkits)
We scroll down a bit further and we have access to the pīkau we click here.
(On screen, clicks on the button for 'Go to Pīkau | Toolkits')
It will take a second to load...
(On screen, the iQualify page opens)
...but then we have the index of available pīkau and we are going to come down to Pīkau 16: Human Computer Interactions. Clicking on 'Go to course home', it takes you through to the introduction section of the pīkau where we can start the course or watch the introduction video.
(On screen, Johnson points his cursor to the menu options on the left hand side of the screen)
If we scroll down on the left hand side we have:
And some other areas around the Pīkau that allow a bit of easier navigation. I would encourage you to have a look through the pīkau and interact with the server on the Kia Takatū website.
Ngā mihi, thank you very much.
Sound of burning fire in the background.
Text on screen: Kia Takatu a-Matihiko Digital Readiness
How to use this resource
This is an overview of the contents of Pīkau 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 and 18. It will give you a taste of what's in there, but you'll want to go the to pīkau on the Kia Takatū website to get more information. Each pīkau has its own introduction online that explains what it covers in a little more detail.
Now that you have an overview of Computational Thinking, why not head to your dashboard to access these resources and complete a pīkau.