Cross curricular Coding : Grade 6

I have written about some interdisciplinary projects in the past where my Middle and High School computing students have embedded solutions using real contexts from other subjects. This academic year has seen lot more agency and engagement from both teachers and student groups towards such experiments. Being able to showcase what we learn in Computing – specially Middle School Computing – has been a catalyst for some of these ideas to emerge. So, here are some of the top projects that students in GRADE 6 have built using computational models or representations of knowledge acquired in other subject areas. Since we ran a trimester based weekly Computing class this year, each of these projects are tied to trimesters.

Arts/Media Studies Crossover

This year Grade 6s coming from Elementary into Middle School) worked on VR/AR platform CoSpaces as a way to get introduced to programming fundamentals. With their weekly Computing lessons, they were able to create some fascinating products that allowed them to build an algorithm based solution for a problem or task that was based on their knowledge from another subject area.

Since all Computing students have an elective of either Arts or Media Studies, this project had some kids working on a virtual gallery walk through of their selfie box portraits in Art and others built an animated rendition of their Superhero comic idea from Media Studies. Both these approaches required them to use algorithms to logically breakdown their presentations into scenes and events with code blocks. Here are a couple of student work samples. I have made copies of their work to preserve student anonimity.




English Crossover

Grade 6 also learnt about Magic Realism in literature. They were reading the novel Skellig by David Almond for this. Given the critical thinking potential of how events in the book could be easily adapted to a virtual reality platform, the groups worked on converting some of the basic concepts of what magic realism is through block based coding.

Students were given some basic scaffolding on how to go about doing this with the following steps.

Students need worked on a wide range of ideas and approaches to make this happen. Some kids chose a single chapter or event from the book and created a VR rendition of it. Others made up their own story with elements of subtle (and not so subtle!) magic realism embedded into it. Here are a couple of examples of what the students created.


Science Crossover

For their final end of year project, we will be learning about Physics enabled features in CoSpaces. The aim is that using this they will be able to demonstrate some basic scientific concepts such as gravity, force, speed etc. Here is a student sample from when Grade 8 did a similar project earlier this school year.


Takeaways and big picture

The big focus with all these projects has always been gaining more knowledge and understanding of the main subject – be it Science or Math or English or Art – through the lens of computational technology. When this happens then it becomes less about the tech – which is always a variable as it should be – and more about the logical approach a student is using to apply elements of computational thinking to solve a problem that may – as in real life – originate from anywhere.

The challenge – and in some ways the one determining factor of these projects even existing -has been scheduling. Students were able to easily access content from other subject areas since they would see the subject teachers each week as well. How this will play a role in coming years as schedules change will be an interesting challenge to solve.

In the next blog post I shall document the interesting cross curricular projects Grade 7s have been building this year using App Labs in