BY JEFF CUMMINGS, BEVERLY CASWELL, GEORGE GADANIDIS AND BRONNA SILVER 

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We get the attraction to coding. We really do! 

However, we need to remember that coding has a past: an important historical connection to mathematics education.

As educators, we benefit from looking at both the successes and the missed opportunities of the previous coding movement, spurred by Papert’s work with Logo.

Papert (1980) saw learning math in Logo as similar to learning French by living in France.

 

 

Missed Opportunities 
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Noss and Hoyles (1992) reflect that Logo did not deliver all of what it promised due to a failure to address non-technical aspects, such as “the social, cultural, and pedagogical context into which Logo is inserted (p. 431). 

This “failure” has been repeated many times in the past, where we have over-valued technology and under-valued what and how we teach. 

In the KNAER Math Knowledge Network, we have been working to link coding with the math curriculum and to collaboratively develop pedagogical approaches that work in classrooms.

 

 WCDSB

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Benefits

Coding and math are complementary subjects, and they are easy to integrate.
Coding on its own, is one more thing to teach, in an already crowded curriculum.

Coding offers 5 affordances that can help us teach math better (Gadanidis, 2017).

  1. Agency: Enables students to ask what-if questions and investigate problems of interest.
  2. Access: Promotes differentiated learning by allowing students to engage with minimal prerequisite knowledge while offering opportunities to explore complex concepts and relationships.
  3. Abstraction: Helps give abstract ideas a tangible feel, as students can manipulate them as code objects on the screen.
  4. Automation: Automates math processes and dynamically models math relationships.
  5. Audience: Enables sharing and collaboration with others.

 

Give it a Try

Engage your students with some of the Math + Code Puzzles at mathnetwork.ca/future

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Join the Math Network

Join the KNAER Math Knowledge Network, through one of 4 Communities of Practice: computational thinking, critical transitions, indigenous knowledge, and mathematics leadership.

 

References

Gadanidis, G. (2017). Five As for coding and math. Blog post available at imaginethis.ca/educating-young-mathematicians-3-five-As-for-coding-math.

Noss, R. & Hoyles, C. (1992). Looking back and looking forward. In C. Hoyles & R. Noss (Eds.), Learning mathematics and Logo (pp. 431-468).                              Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books.

Wellington Catholic District School Boards (2017). Coding for All: A Story of Purpose. Available at
          http://www.wellingtoncdsb.ca/BoardOffice/Policies/Documents/WCDSB%2017-15%20WCN8_final_web.pdf.                                                                              

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS 

Jeff Cummings is the Technology Lead at Wellington CDSB 

Beverly Caswell is Program Director of The Robertson Program

George Gadanidis is co-Director of the KNAER Math Knowledge Network 

Bronna Silver is a Grade 3 teacher at St. Andrews PS, TDSB