Lightning Talks: Balancing Project Based Learning with Building Competencies

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Presented By: Tyler Beatty


Can Backwards Design or Understanding by Design adequately equip teachers to design meaningful learning experiences? ... I argue they don't when teaching programming skills.

In an ideal world, the time spent in any secondary-school classroom should be less than fifty percent driven by the curriculum, a small percent driven by teacher passion and experience, and as much time as possible driven by student practice and exploration. This talk (slides) looks at the design structure of my Grade 9 - Introduction to Programming course (my online planning documents here).
This one semester, elective course is designed to meet students' needs for autonomy, competence and connectedness. It is driven by a set of CSTA standards and 4 miniprojects:

Which leads to these 6 modules of learning:

  • Sub-procedures
  • Events
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Inheritance
  • Lists
  • Abstract data types

This structure creates learning experiences with a low floor of entry, high ceilings for exploration, and wide walls to engage students of all interests and backgrounds. Join me as I strive to develop conseptual understandings while also providing an environment for students to become confident programming practitioners.