Literacy in Programming and the Classroom

              Literacy isn’t just about being able to read and write, despite popular belief. Literacy is in every school subject, not just English class. One meaning of literacy, which focuses on the academic definition, focuses on word choice and the level of understanding the students achieve. It is important to note that “although reading comprehension is clearly the ultimate goal of reading instruction, it is important to note that the construct of comprehension includes, but is not limited to, vocabulary” (11). This means that in order to fully comprehend whatever it is that you are reading, knowing the vocabulary could only deepen your understanding of it. However, vocabulary isn’t the sole focus of literacy because students can figure out meaning of a text through context evidence without knowing the specific words. This is a learning process; “an important part of comprehension strategy instruction is the active participation of students in the comprehension process… These strategies include, but are not limited to, summarizing, asking and answering questions, paraphrasing, and finding the main idea” (16). The significance of this quote is the idea that literacy includes the ability to determine meaning by using strategies, such as questioning and reviewing. In an English classroom, students are taught to question what the author is saying to form their own opinions and summarize what they read so they can support their opinions with evidence. This definition of literacy can be applied to life outside the classroom. For example, in case of a fire, workers have to ask themselves, “What floor am I on? Where is the closest exit? Who is going to need help getting to safety?” (which is questioning) and use their observations and conclusions about the surrounding environment, such as where the fire seems to be coming from and where fire extinguishers are (which is summarizing), to get out of the building. In all, literacy has a goal that “is not simply to enable students to obtain facts or literal meaning from text (although that is clearly desirable), but also to make deeper interpretations, generalizations, and conclusions” (21).

        Image result for programming language vs human language

       In my opinion, learning a programming language is very similar to learning a human language because both are concerned with formulas (sentence structure versus coding) and making meaning (author’s message versus a working system). For example, learning a language requires the same strategies no matter the origin of it. These processes to acquiring a language includes “strategies to promote independent vocabulary acquisition skills include analyzing semantic, syntactic, or context clues to derive the meaning of words by using prior knowledge and the context in which the word is presented” (12). For learning a programming language, context clues and prior knowledge is important because you have to see which aspects of a code cause certain actions (context clues) and combinations you have used before that you know work (prior knowledge). For learning a human language, context clues are important when reading, in order to understand certain words or phrases in a text, as well as prior knowledge, which helps set the stage or mood of a novel. The way the language is used is also important and consistent with both languages. This is due to the fact that “many researchers think that it is not the specific strategy taught, but rather the active participation of students in the comprehension process that makes the most difference on students’ comprehension” (17). The main idea of this quote is that in order to fully learn a language, you have to use (practice) it.

Image result for programming languages

            I see a lot of value in the literacy strategies recommendations for learning both the programming and human languages. One important idea that was expressed by the text is that every language, content, situation, etc has specific words that correlate with it. With this in mind, “in many content area texts it is the vocabulary that carries a large share of the meaning through specialized vocabulary, jargon, and discipline-related concepts. Learning these specialized vocabularies contributes to the success of reading among adolescent students” (11). For a programming language, the vocabulary includes coding, system, bots, etc. For an English classroom, the language vocabulary includes analyze, annotate, figurative language, theme, etc. For a retail job, the vocabulary would include sales, profit, customer service, etc. So, vocabulary is specific to every place we go and everything we do; literacy is all around us. To further understanding of the vocabulary, I agree with the text that you have to “give sufficient opportunities to use new vocabulary in a variety of contexts through activities such as discussion, writing, and extended reading” (14). You know the saying about traits in evolution in how if you don’t use it you lose it? Well, this applies to vocabulary, which is why practice is an important step to acquiring a language. Through this, teachers can “show students how to apply the strategies they are learning to different texts, not just to one text” as well as to different aspects of their life (hobbies, sports, etc) (18).

    • Kendall Stevenson
      Kendall Stevenson

      This very good research, I would like to add focusing, some child have a hard time focusing on the task in front of them....Thank you for your insight. 

      • Kendall Stevenson
        Kendall Stevenson

        EDUTOPIA: Digital Citizenship

         

        Internet Safety and Cyberbullying

         

        “Social Media at School: Teaching Safety on the Virtual Playground”

         

        This article discusses the very real scenarios that students can encounter via social media. Students can be exposed to cyberbullying, and/or post something that may negatively affect their future college or career opportunities. The “playground analogy” is mentioned in the article. Just as we teach our children, when they go to the playground, what to do if they encounter a bully, or get hurt, we need to teach students what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation on the internet.

         

        I think that it is important for students to know how to interact with others on the internet and on social media appropriately, and in a way that will not negatively affect them in the future. The challenge for teachers, is finding a way to integrate this into their everyday teaching schedules. After thinking this over for a while, I can see if teachers use social media websites in their classrooms such as twitter, and facebook, they should definitely have a discussion with the class about appropriateness at the start of the year.

         

        Digital Responsibility

         

        “The Basics of Open Technology”

         

        Technology is the trend in education now, and will continue to be, and grow immensely in the years to come. More and more schools are jumping on the “technology train” because the districts realize the possibilities that come with integrating technology. But, what happens when your school adopts new technologies, but doesn’t adopt the necessary policies and practices to make the integration successful? The article discusses that the students need to have some kind of control over their technology - let them be creative, and personalize their devices. This will help them take ownership of this device. Also available to the students needs to be the accessibility tools installed on each of the devices given to each student. Access to the network (both BYOD and Open Network) is also vital for the success of integration into districts, as well as communication with parents pertaining to appropriate time students should spend using these devices. Districts also need to be wise in choosing their devices. What is most cost effective, but also beneficial for learning?

         

        I agree that if schools choose not to adopt all of the policies and procedures necessary when integrating technology, that it will not work. The district will simply have schools full of devices not being used efficiently.

         

        Media and Digital Literacy

         

        “Empowering Student Relationships With Media”

         

        Students have to be taught how to interact with media in ways that are critical and empowering. Teachers need to help students to become decoders of the media they engage with. Students cannot simply read the material and say they understand, but they have to know how to engage with the material in a way that they can decipher the material. Students should move through steps of decoding when studying material from media:

        1. Consume: What is it that are you watching/reading/looking at/listening to?

        2. Curate: Why are you watching/reading/looking at/listening to this?

        3. Create: What are you making?

        4. Critique: Why are you making this?

        5. Publish: Understand how others will receive your work?

         

        I believe that going through the steps listed above would help students decipher and decode material “fed” to them through the media. It will also help them to create their own work while reflecting on how others will receive it - this will force them to think of these aspects while looking through media on their own.

         

        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito

          Skyler,

          This is a powerful (and well argued) statement about the role of literacy in our lives and the relationship between learning computer programming and learning another human language.

          I loved this:

           The significance of this quote is the idea that literacy includes the ability to determine meaning by using strategies, such as questioning and reviewing. In an English classroom, students are taught to question what the author is saying to form their own opinions and summarize what they read so they can support their opinions with evidence. This definition of literacy can be applied to life outside the classroom. For example, in case of a fire, workers have to ask themselves, “What floor am I on? Where is the closest exit? Who is going to need help getting to safety?” (which is questioning) and use their observations and conclusions about the surrounding environment, such as where the fire seems to be coming from and where fire extinguishers are (which is summarizing), to get out of the building. In all, literacy has a goal that “is not simply to enable students to obtain facts or literal meaning from text (although that is clearly desirable), but also to make deeper interpretations, generalizations, and conclusions” (21).

           

        Computer Science for Teachers Spring 2019

        Computer Science for Teachers Spring 2019

        Here is the online home for CS for Teachers at Pace University for Spring 2019.

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