Gary Stager will once again be a featured presenter at the ASB Unplugged Conference in Mumbai where he will lead a full-day pre-conference workshop and two half-day workshops.
Full day pre-conference workshop
Reinvent Mathematics Education and You Change the World
There may be no greater gap between a discipline and the teaching done in its name than when the beauty, power and mystery of mathematics become math instruction. Nary a single pedagogical innovation of the past century has had any impact on school math instruction. If that alone were insufficiently troublesome, its negative impact on all other aspects of schooling is too often underestimated. No matter how child-centered or progressive a school might think itself to be, a failure to address “math” means that coercion is ultimately reintroduced into the system. Such coercion is corrosive and will ultimately erode any other progress. So, what to do?
One can only begin to address the systemic challenges of math education by understanding the nature of mathematics and the power of computing. Countess decades worth of efforts to increase achievement with unchanged curricular content continues to fail spectacularly; yet, we do not change course. Surely, the widespread availability of computational technology demands new pedagogical approaches and a new diet of mathematics.
This workshop moves beyond the goal of making math instruction engaging for children by providing educators with authentic mathematical thinking experiences. Such experiences acknowledge the role computers play in mathematics and society’s increasing demand for computational thinking. Project-based approaches with mathematics at the center of the activity will be explored. Traditional concepts such as numeracy, geometry, probability and graphing will be investigated in addition to exciting new branches of mathematics rarely found in the primary grades. Such experiences are required for educators seeking to create a new diet of mathematics for children.
This workshop is designed for teachers of grades K-8, but there is plenty to offer high school teachers as well, particularly in the areas of computation and rethinking the math curriculum.
Educators like to talk about educational transformation, reinvention, or even revolution, but their practical vision for achieving such dreams rarely extends past step one. Educators yearning to create more productive contexts for learning should at least be able to answer three essential questions about teaching and learning. This session will introduce three provocative questions via classroom vignettes and the perspectives of big thinkers whose ideas can and should shape future pedagogical practice Then there will be a chance to think aloud, clarify your stance towards the future of education, and begin planning for implementation.
A companion eBook on radical educational practices will be shared.
Making Computer Science For All A Reality
National and international calls to teach computer science to every child K-12 are laudable and in serious danger of being the most spectacular failure in the history of overhyped, and ultimately failed, educational innovations. Such an eventuality should be avoided since learning to program is a critical aspect of agency over an increasingly complex and technologically sophisticated world. Every career requires programming skill and the great scientist Stephen Wolfram predicts that in the near future, current occupations will be challenged by versions of the same, preceded by the term, “computational.” There will be computational art, computational history, computational biology, computational engineering, etc… Programming is also fun and a meaningful context for learning math and science.
Despite unprecedented access to computational tools, very few student engage in any computing. This workshop intends to begin addressing this deficit through a discussion of sound pedagogical practices for teaching programming across grades and across the curriculum. It will argue that computing is essential for computational thinking, problem solving, math education, and project-based learning that extend beyond rhetoric or vocabulary acquisition. We will think about how to teach programming as a consequence of actual programming experiences and lend a critical eye to the preposterous scope and sequences proposed by governments around the world.
This workshop will also explore how block-based languages offer beginners and their teachers a comfortable on-ramp to computer programming, but are not inferior “baby languages.” We will look at a range of block-based environments for PC, Mac, and iOS that support the creation of animated stories, video games, mathematical microworlds, complex simulations, 3D design, robots, and controlling popular toys, including Sphero, Dot and Dash, and LEGO. It is even possible to 3D print objects programmed in Beetleblocks, a block-based programming language. Pedagogical techniques for introducing computer science and stimulating inquiry will be modeled and classroom implementation strategies discussed.