This project, titled Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC), aims to use the principles of collective argumentation to teach coding through appropriate reasoning. Creating and critiquing arguments as part of a coding activity promotes a more structured approach rather than the trial-and-error coding activity commonly used by novice programmers. Teaching coding via collective argumentation allows teachers to use methods that are already in use in mathematics and science instruction to teach coding, thus increasing the probability that it will be taught in conjunction with mathematics and science as regular parts of classroom instruction rather than relegated to an after-school or enrichment activity for only some students.
Specific objectives of the CALC project are to
- increase the attention that coding is given in the elementary classrooms taught by our participating teachers, and
-direct students away from informal approaches (e.g.trial-and-error) to develop code to the more formal, structured approach recommended for novice programmers.
Our research activities investigate teachers’ understanding of argumentation using the CALC concept and how the implementation of the CALC concept helps students (grades 3-5) learn how to code. The CALC approach supports the learning of coding by providing teachers with a formal, structured means to a) trace the growth of students’ understanding, and misunderstanding, of ideas (i.e., coding) as they form, b) facilitate students’ use of evidence, not opinion, to select a solution among multiple solutions (i.e., different sequencing of the code), and c) help each student realize she/he, as well as others, is a legitimate participant (i.e., a programmer) in the activity of developing, assessing and implementing an idea (e.g., coding of a robot).
This paper/presentation discussed the first phase of an on-going investigation and focuses on a prototype graduate-level course designed for and taught to practicing elementary school teachers. The discussion outlines how the course impacted the participating teachers content knowledge of coding and their belief that coding can be made an integral part of everyday lessons, not as an add-on activity.
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