This morning I participated with in a G+ hangout with Evan Weingberg, discussing how we might approach introducing computational thinking into our Algebra II classes. Evan is a math and physics teacher at Hangzhou International School, and he keeps an excellent blog, gealgerobophysiculus.
Evan and I discussed all sorts of possibilies for activities to explore computational thinking with our students, and I also got a chance to learn so much more about what it is like to live and teach in China, how international school in China differ from national ones, and much more. For instance, did you know that when students in national schools are taking the National College Higher Education Entrance exam, the Gaokao, trucks equipped with cell phone jammers routinely patrol around school to help prevent cheating? More interestingly, did you know that students who participate in the FIRST robotics competition in China get a few extra points on their Gaokao scores for participating? It’s a very small way that China is trying to move beyond using one high stakes test for college admissions.
There’s no doubt in my mind that collaborating with teachers like Evan across the globe has made me a tremendously better teacher—and now that we’ve found a time that works well for both of us, I’m looking forward to contuning the conversation.
If you’re really interested in teaching computational thinking, you might want to check out the recording of our chat.