This fall, elementary PE and Health teachers in Vancouver Public Schools had the chance to come together and learn about how to integrate computational thinking and computer science concepts into their curriculum.
Often, PE and Health aren’t considered logical candidates for integrating computer science concepts, but it’s actually a logical fit. Activities in these classes already incorporate sequencing, data analysis, and computational thinking, and when teachers learn the vocabulary and practices of CS, it’s easy for them to emphasize these concepts with their students. Many unplugged activities can underscore important CS and CT concepts, while educators who want to take things to the next level can incorporate physical computing–creating and programming wearable devices to collect and analyze data. These integrations also offer the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to extend STEM learning opportunities even further.
Teachers learned the basics of computer science and computational thinking integration, examined CS vocabulary and standards for their grade levels, and connected those standards to their PE and Health standards. They had the opportunity to experience an unplugged coding activity and review examples of lesson plans and activities before taking some time to think through how they might incorporate the ideas into their own classrooms.
“Regardless of career pathway, computer science skills and computational thinking are essential resume builders across industries and our students will be leading the way,” says Erin Lark, Science, Health, and PE Curriculum Coordinator for Vancouver Public Schools. “Embedding these key components throughout instruction gives students, and their teachers avenues for learning that are relevant and engaging. Some might think, “why would we need computer science in PE?” My reply is to say look at your wrist. Your neighbor’s wrist. Computer science has revolutionized what we are able to do for health and fitness. Students need to be ready for the next wave of that.”