Blog Post

Tell Me a Story: Connecting the Computer Science Learning Dots

A story can set the emotional tone for any type of learning experience. It’s a great way to kick off a lesson or an activity and get your students engaged in challenging or even not-so-interesting content. Stories also help to retrieve prior knowledge and memories as well as connect students’ personal learning experiences with their immediate world. Learning from a story that is supported with a big picture book, a graphic novel, a paragraph read aloud from a trade book, or an educational teacher series or journal can help in retaining information and knowledge at a deeper level. In general, stories make the learning experience more meaningful for each and everyone one of us.

Photo of horizontal stack of books by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

 

Knowledge is power, and literacy is the essential ingredient for building strong foundational skills needed to connect the dots in computer science learning! You may be asking, “Well, where do I start, and how do I know the book I have chosen to read aloud or a book collection to add to my students’ literacy center and free-choice time is going to help my students?” Well, I have the answer for you!

I have conversed with a lot and I mean A LOT of educators around this nation and want to share the very best picture and chapter books so you too can transform your next computer science lesson or activity. This is not an all-inclusive list, but these are tried-and-true stories I have personally used with students and teachers to model best practices with computer science lessons and activities. As an educator, a mother, and now a Nana, I too want to excite children’s curious minds with rich connections and engaging learning experiences, while allowing them to wonder, think, process new information, and empathize with characters in stories. Many of the stories that I'm sharing with you complement and extend learning opportunities even beyond computer science to include the areas of makerspaces, design-thinking invention processes, and Social Emotional Learning culture.

Photo of vertical stack of books by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

 

One of my essential musts to tie literacy with grounded computer science experiences is a whimsical story line and that is why I lean toward fractured fairy tales. Fractured fairy tales are a modern twist on well-known fairy tales, making for fun, light-hearted and laughter-filled learning moments for all ages. They usually contribute to solving a problem through a series of steps, challenges, and setbacks to finally reach or create a new solution by the end of the story. Fractured fairy tales lend themselves nicely to our computer science terminology of coding, sequencing, debugging, loops, conditionals, events, stacks, and queues. Check out my all-time favorites and recent newbies added in the collection below. 

In the comments section, be sure to share your book choices and computer science activities that lend themselves to connecting the computer science learning dots for all students!

Naomi Harm is a National K-12 global STEM educator and women-in-leadership specialist. In her role, Naomi teaches educators beginner and intermediate courses on the why for CS and CT in grades K-8 utilizing Code.org, CSTA, Intel Education, ISTE, Google CS First, and Lego Education curriculum frameworks.