We recently came upon a Washington math teacher’s post about why he’s going to start teaching his students to code. His ideas sparked the desire to flesh out for you all how coding and math interact. This will be a series of posts, delving into:
- How coding builds math skills
- Which areas of math are most important to coding
- How math teachers can incorporate coding into class time
First, however, a tidbit of background for this post: Generation Code curriculum takes many cues from Common Core State Standards. Parents, if you don’t know about CCSS, they are learning goals outlining what a student should know and be able to do by the end of each year in school, and they are categorized by subject (English, Math, Computer Science, etc.).
The Computer Science standards are brand new, and they are quickly becoming our primary reference while developing new curricula. However, we’ve realized that coding inherently addresses many of the CC standards for other subjects, like language arts and mathematics!
Delving deeper into math standards, we noticed that coding helps teach all eight of the standards for mathematical practice. So, in this post we want to highlight four of these practices and discuss how coding can improve such math skills in students.
CCSS Math Practice 1:
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Coders start every project with a problem that they want to solve. Maybe they have a vision for a new game to create, or maybe they’re trying to create an app to help with an everyday issue. Even though one of the great things about coding is that it gives kids immediate feedback on what they’re creating, students still have to learn to persevere through the full building process. It takes time to build something amazing.
Debugging is another great example of problem-solving on a more minute level. Coders need to be able to find the problem and really understand it before they think about possible solutions.
CCSS Math Practice 3:
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Although we usually don’t think about math classes as a particularly cooperative subject, math teachers prioritize communication as a valuable skill in their classes. Coding is a great way for students to practice communicating verbally about quantitative and abstract ideas, especially since coders are usually collaborating with others to complete a project. Learning to code may boost students’ confidence in their math classes, both in asking and answering questions.
CCSS Math Practice 4:
Model with mathematics
According to Common Core, “[m]athematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace.” This idea of using classroom ideas to address real-world problems is closely paralleled in the coding world. Once a student understands the syntax and logic of coding, they apply it to their lives and solve daily problems – whether in the form of a website, game, or app.
This culture of using abstract ideas to solve real problems can help students take their math education from the classroom into their homes and communities.
CCSS Math Practice 7:
Look for and make use of structure
The ability to find patterns and identify structures, are vital skills to both math and coding. In coding, you build expertise in these skills not only by analyzing other people’s work, but also by building patterns and structures of your own in your code. This hands-on work makes looking at other people’s work later much easier, as well as more productive.
Is your child or teen interested in learning to code? Check out our upcoming Vienna, VA after-school and Saturday classes! We’d love to have you join us for tons of coding fun this fall.