Steve Jobs once said, “Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think”. Students need to know how to problem-solve effectively, and in turn, students need to be computational thinkers. In some sense, as Brian Aspinall says, computational thinking means to develop and solve problems using tools and technology and transferring this knowledge to solving a variety of global problems with or without the use of technology. While my focus of the Learning Project will be to learn Python, I am also going to extend it to continue to develop my understanding of computational thinking.
What is Python?
Python is one of the most popular coding languages that can be used for a variety of purposes.
One of the highlights of Python is that it is beginner-friendly. Python features a large community in which I will be able to ask for support. For more information about what Python is, check out the video by Programming with Mosh.
Why do I want to learn Python?
I was inspired to learn how to code from a grade 7 student that I taught a couple years ago. This student was mostly self-taught, was able to show off his coding project at our local science fair. My student designed his own computer game to help people new to Canada dress for the varying Canadian weather, and later a game to learn about Canadian money, and a game to learn how to make change. He won and was able to showcase his games two years in a row at the Canada Wide Science Fair. Many of these skills will open up many doors and opportunities for students in the future, hopefully providing opportunities for other students to experience Canada Wide Science Fair as well.
Through coding, I want to be able to give kids a different choice on how to present and be able to provide students with the next step of coding beyond block coding. I also want to learn for myself. Our instructional technology team applies the ISTE standards for educators and students to the work that we do in schools. We tie these standards in with our Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes.
Resources I Plan to Use
Learning Python from my experience thus far is similar to learning a language, there are many rules that need to be followed. I hope to become more familiar with these rules, to begin to start coding. Currently, I am exploring many apps and websites to aid in learning Python. This includes Sololearn, a place in which I am able to connect with other learners, comment on forums, and work together to learn how to code. As well as an app called Py, which provides bite-sized lessons about coding. In addition, I intend to supplement these apps with more interactive activities through MOOCs such as Coursera or udemy. I intend to participate in a MOOC that encompasses Computational Thinking through ISTE U. This course starts on October 14th and runs until December 8th. I believe it is important to have an understanding of computational thinking in order to apply the knowledge of coding and see the importance of it for students.
Other resources that I will use to supplement my coding include Microbits, and Arduino, and Raspberry Pi. These resources will allow me to create, add sensors, and provide me the opportunity to tinker while learning how to use Python. I hope to develop some connections with other computer science educators to see how Python can be used in the classroom. I will also use books and professional reading to supplement my learning such as Brian Aspinall’s book Code Breaker.
In the end, I am hoping to have a more complete understanding of what Computational Thinking is in order to apply it in the classrooms that I am working with. In addition, creating something that either:
- makes my life easier,
- is really cool, such as a Magic Mirror,
- or learn how to do some website design.