We all know that writing is an important skill to develop in every classroom—including the computer science (CS) classroom. If our students can’t communicate their ideas, they don’t have a chance succeeding in or out of our classrooms.
And while as CS teachers we know the importance of teaching writing, we sometimes freeze with that deer-in-the-headlights look when thinking about actually TEACHING communication skills. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re a natural! If you can teach computer programming, you can kids to write.
Thank you, Terry Freedman, for the elaboration of these ideas in the Tech & Learning article “How learning to code might improve writing skills” (http://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/8736).
Compare the strategies you use to teach CS to those required in writing.
- Making a plan for writing is similar to creating a flow chart or storyboard.
- Writing a clear precise sentence is like an explicit computer instruction.
- Good grammar is just syntax in another language.
- Well-ordered text is not much different than code that follows the algorithm.
- Too many words can confuse the reader just like too many statements create spaghetti code.
- Creative writing and programs require a mastery of vocabulary and commands.
See? I told you that you were a natural. Teach writing the way you teach programming and you’ll be fine.