Title

Introducing Coding through Tabletop Board Games and Their Digital Instantiations across Elementary Classrooms and School Libraries

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

SIGCSE '20: The 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Publisher

Association for Computing Machinery

Location

Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

2-26-2020

Award Number

NSF, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings 1837224

Funder

NSF, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings

First Page

787

Last Page

793

Abstract

This experience report describes an approach for helping elementary schools integrate computational thinking and coding by leveraging existing resources and infrastructure that do not rely on 1-1 computing. A particular focus is using the school library and media center as a site to complement and enhance classroom instruction on coding. Further, our approach builds upon "unplugged" knowledge and practices that are already familiar to and motivating for students, in this case tabletop board games. Through these games, students can use their prior knowledge and ease with tabletop gaming mechanics to cue relevant ideas for core computational concepts. We describe a model and an instructional unit spanning across classroom and school library settings that builds upon board game play as a source domain for computing knowledge. Building on expansive framing, the model emphasizes instructional linkages being made between one domain (the tabletop board game) and another (specially designed Scratch project shells with partially complete code blocks) such that the reasoning activities and different contexts are seen as instantiations of the same encompassing context. We present the experiences of three elementary school teachers as they implemented the unit in their classrooms and with their school librarian. We also show initial findings on the impact of the unit on student interest (N=87), as measured by pre- and post- surveys. We conclude with lessons learned about ways to improve the unit and future classroom implementations.

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