Skip to main content

Teaching Computer Science Concepts

Hi All,

I participated in a Twitter chat last night about teaching computer science in the classroom. Integrating coding and programming into the classroom is becoming commonplace in K-12 but has been a little slower to make its way to the Adult Ed world.  Computer programming is quickly becoming a vital literacy as our world is dominated by technology. Helping Adult Ed students learn these skills will give them a tremendous advantage in the workplace. In the past, computer science has been taught as a stand alone class, it is now being integrated into every type of subject. Programming and coding can seem really intimidating but actually it's pretty easy to get started and super fun!  For anyone thinking about bringing computer science to their classroom, I recommend trying it out yourself first.

I got started by playing the game Human Resource Machine on my phone (I didn't even realize I was learning programming concepts while playing!) and am now learning how to code Python! Besides Human Resource Machine some of my other favorite resources are Mimo and Code Academy. Both are very easy to use and break concepts into small manageable chunks. There are so many resources out there for integrating computer science into the classroom. If you're interested in investigating more you can check out the transcript from the Twitter chat last night here. I hope everyone gives it a try!


P.S. Anyone who is a linguist or just a lover of languages will really enjoy coding! There are 5-6 major coding languages and the experience is just like learning syntax in any language! 


Kathy_Tracey's picture

Hi Becky,

Thanks for sharing! I am starting to play some of the games you listed, but can you help me flesh out some ideas about how to make the connection between these games and the content areas in adult education? I can see a connection between Human Resource Machine and basic math. Can we brainstorm some ideas about how to tangibly make the connections with some lesson ideas? 

Friends, I invite you to chime in with some ideas about making the connections to help students move forward in their academic development. 


eslbecky3's picture

Sure! I would see the games as just a fun way for the student to reinforce whatever you are teaching in class. Definitely these concepts lend themselves to math but there are connections to every subject. Basic computer science concepts are things like logic, patterns, decomposition, and evaluation (check out this graphic) One place to start is with "unplugged" activities. These are basically ready to go lessons using computer science concepts that don't even use a computer. For example, here is a lesson teaching students about the concept of abstraction that has students analyze stories and then eventually create their own, which combines both reading skills and computer science concepts. Another great lesson is this one teaching students about conditional statements in programming. Students play a card game creating "if, then" statements. Conditionals also exist in the English language and was a structure I used to teach my ELLs. So there's a clear connection that can be drawn here. 

Once you've tackled a few "unplugged" lessons, you could have students start creating by coding. Sites like Scratch and Hour of Code have fun projects for students to complete like creating stories and games. For every project, students carefully have to follow directions and learn by trial and error, both of which are super valuable life skills in general. And best of all, students are creating something, so teachers are helping to facilitate the use of higher order thinking skills and students are making something they can be proud of!