Encoding Literacy in Computer Science

via edutopia

Good, solid literacy instruction is the right of every student and the responsibility of all educators. School leaders recognize the need for literacy instruction to become a schoolwide priority—in all courses, not just English and the humanities.

To support that position, I met with our computer science teacher at the end of last year. We discussed ways he could assist his students in reading this year. As we analyzed one of his lessons, I noticed the multitude of directions students needed to follow to create an accurate program. We surmised that if students worked on comprehending the directions, they might find greater success in the class, on the exam, and hopefully throughout their academic courses.

We wanted his students to think and read like programmers, so we  focused on computational literacy, which “requires being able to do computer programming at some level,” according to Bruce Sherin of Northwestern University. Students need to understand how computer programs work in order to build the foundation to learn programming. Luckily, computational literacy is accessible even to people who have no computer science training because the concepts are reflected in real world situations and general problem solving.

I worked with the teacher to create a lesson that would seamlessly embed vocabulary into his programming class to highlight the critical importance of verbs when following programming instructions.

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