Intro to CS: Remote “Unplugged” Instruction for the Creative Brain

Kinda unplugged…students only need a cellphone or a tablet

Creative Thinking is a marker of potential – So to increase a student’s potential for success, can we build creative “muscles”?

As elective teachers in Alabama, we were tasked with identifying 3 Critical Standards for each course as the basis for our remote instruction.

For my Introductory CS course, even in the classroom, my focus is less on programming and more on developing independent work ethics and problem solving skills.

This class has taken on a ” You Belong Here” theme, in the assignment grading there is a large correlation between effort and score. Did you try? Are you a better CS student today? Were you persisent when the computer did things you didn’t anticipate?

42 students with an amaglm of devices, desktops, connections, and family schedules. Experience says 85% have their own cell phone, and I am hoping that between other family members and our county’s device outreach, that if I can keep the assignments “unplugged” as much as possible there is a chance of engagement.

I also wanted to design less than two hours of work this week. We are on the block schedule, so I normally get to spend at least 7 hours a week with them. Now I had to find an engaging standard, with unplugged potential, and assignments that were easy on the clock.

My first standard is Creativity: Creativity in Expression, Thought & Communication. For the first activity, I am asking the students to write one paragraph about a #covid solution that they have witnessed. The prompt is wide open, and I am looking forward to seeing where it will go.

The 2nd activity I stole straight from social media, a girl trying to remote teach can’t lie. I made a riff of the Getty Museum Picture recreation challenge, using the open collections from the National Portrait Gallery.

I am hoping these assignments give me a glimpse into their covid lives, without adding academic stress for an elective class that was designed to inspire their participation and sense of confidence.

There is a distinct difference between having a digital device and having a device with a keyboard and a printer. Over 85% of my students have access to a cellular device or tablet for at least some time during the day.

The details of the activities are below, you are welcome to steal, share, edit or revise with your own ducks.

Their next assignments will focus more directly on digital solutions to covid created problems.

Activity #1: Students Discover a Creative Solution around them

Activity #2: Recreate a Portrait from the National Portait Gallery


Published by MaryClair Wright

High School Computer Science Teacher in Alabama.

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