Computer Science through Storytelling
Our team is developing and researching culturally responsive curriculum and teacher development that engage American Indian and rural Montana students in learning computer science and computing skills. Instead of creating a new stand-alone curriculum (and new standards for teachers to meet), the project infuses computer science across the grades 4-8 curriculum, which helps students understand that computing skills are relevant across disciplines and are important for a wide variety of professions in the work-force. Through a research practice partnership, this project is working directly with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, tribal entities, teachers, and other stakeholders to develop these culturally responsive resources, which will be aligned with the new Computer Science state content area standards and with Montana's Indian Education for All curriculum.
Our lessons use two novel approaches to computing -- storytelling using the Alice programming platform and physical computing with textiles that are embedded with electronics and then programmed by students. Because many teachers and students believe that computing is difficult, these novel approaches enable more broad access to computer science. They have been shown to not only engage students and teachers in rigorous computing, but also to make computing fun.
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We acknowledge that Montana State University and the schools we work with are on the ancestral lands of American Indians, including the A’aninin (Gros Ventre), Amskapi/Piikani (Blackfeet), Annishinabe (Chippewa/Ojibway), Annishinabe/Métis (Little Shell Chippewa), Apsáalooke (Crow), Ktunaxa/Ksanka (Kootenai), Lakota, Dakota (Sioux), Nakoda (Assiniboine), Ne-i-yah-wahk (Plains Cree), Qíispé (Pend d’Oreille), Seliš (Salish), and Tsétsêhéstâhese/So’taahe (Northern Cheyenne). Through our work with Montana middle school students and their teachers, we honor and respect these twelve tribal nations that call Montana home today, by drawing inspiration from the stories of these communities whose oral histories embody this land.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DRL 1657553 and DRL 2031795.