Our new CS201 course features completely overhauled Instruction activities that provide multiple ways through which students can connect with new knowledge. These activities are designed to create a classroom environment in which teachers and students share responsibility for learning and generating new ideas. Below are the primary structural changes to be aware of.
All Instruction activities begin with an engaging preview of the primary ideas, activating students' background knowledge and laying a conceptual foundation for new technical tools. These introductory activities are typically "offline", meaning they do not require the use of computers. They most often take the form of short games or challenges that engage all students, while some are structured more as classroom or small-group conversations. The goal of this introduction is to relate the Instruction's topic to students' own lives and/or to challenge them to solve a problem, building some intrinsic motivation for the learning to come.
After a brief technical introduction to a new coding concept, students are presented with a fully-functional program with which to explore the new code. Students are provided with several suggestions of changes or improvements they can make, but are free to experiment with the code in any manner they choose. This allows students to approach the topic at DoK 2 (application) and DoK 3 (strategic thinking) rather than simply memorizing new vocabulary and syntax. By experimenting with a code-complete program, students are able to form their own ideas before the teacher provides more traditional instruction.
Discussion, look-ahead preview and reflection
After the most essential ideas of the core topic are introduced and students have practiced writing new code along with the teacher, Instruction activities end with a class discussion that reinforces the lesson's vocabulary, a preview of ideas and techniques presented later in the lesson sequence, and a written reflection that provides actionable formative data to teachers as an exit ticket. This allows students to reflect on the new topics at DoK 4 (extended thinking).
Multiple Instruction activities per lesson
To better break up new ideas into smaller chunks, many lessons in the CS201 curriculum have two or even three discrete Instruction activities. This empowers students to focus on the most critical learning outcomes of each activity, and provides additional practice with each new concept before moving onto something new.