Discussion

Integrating CS into the Curriculum

How do you integrate CS into your curriculum? 

For many elementary school teachers, there's a ton of pressure to meet state standards especially in tested subjects. And computer science isn't part of all state standards yet, and certainly isn't one of the typically tested subjects... So... we often need to integrate it into other subjects if we want to include it.

I've thought of a few ways here that I might include it:

  • PreK-5th Classroom Management: when teaching routines in the beginning of the year, you can incorporate CS vocabulary. You can use the term "algorithm" and "procedure" to explain steps of instructions that you do sequentially. Example: "We use these procedures when we clean up from science and get ready for lunch." Or "When you have a conflict with someone, here is an algorithm you can use to solve the disagreement..." When students get comfortable with CS vocabulary, it will make the jump to coding a little less intimidating.
  • PreK-5th Reading: Integrate books related to computer science into your classroom library and read-alouds. Here is a post with some excellent suggestions: Picture Books & Coding Concepts. I personally have some of the Hello Ruby books by Linda Liukas. They are excellent!
  • PreK-5th Brain Breaks: Algorithms! Something I've done with my PreK daughter is create algorithms for dances. We write different dance moves on strips of paper and then lay them out to create a special dance. Then, we rearrange our algorithm for better combinations. We had stretched this idea to add loops (repeated moves) and functions (one paper strip that calls several others grouped together). I imagine it would also be easy enough for older kids to add parameters (how many times do we spin around?) on post-its to customize their algorithms even more. This could be a fun way to get up from desks and move around while still incorporating computer science into your normal rountine.
  • 4th grade math: long division: Learning about the modulus (remainder) is an important beginner concept in computer science--it's especially helpful for figuring out if numbers are even and can lead to an understanding of simple encryption. So when teaching long division, rather than dismissing the remainder, maybe focus on it a bit and even have problems where students purposely find it--and even call it the modulus.
  • 5th grade math(?): place value enrichment. When you're teaching place value and base-10 math, why not take a day to teach base-2? Teaching students binary math for a bit can expand their overall understanding of math and can prepare them for a basic understanding of the binary math needed for CS.
  • Scratch: Search CS for All Teachers for all of the Scratch posts related to different curricular topics! You'll be amazed at all of the ways you can use Scratch to teach and assess many different subjects while integrating computer science.

How else do you integrate CS into other subjects in your classroom? Post a discussion comment below!