Icon for: Janet Beissinger
Facilitators’
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Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 08:41 a.m.

    The video was very engaging, and the students in the video seemed engaged as well. I found myself wondering how cryptography could find a place in the school day. Has the project identified promising curricular connections?

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 12:33 a.m.

    The material certainly could be used in the school day since it is connected to the middle grade math curriculum. We focused on after school use because teachers reported that it was hard to fit it into math classes during their regular school day. However technology teachers have reported that it works well in their classes. Also, teachers who have flexible schedules have been able to include it.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 08:56 a.m.

    Thanks for the response. I’m doing some work right now that suggests pacing guides and state standards discourage teachers from bringing in interesting topics that might give more life to the content. Is that part of the issue you’re seeing with cryptography in the school day?

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:26 a.m.

    Absolutely. That is what we have seen. Some schools have special time slots for enrichment and multi-disciplinary classes and our cryptography material has worked well there. But many teachers, particularly those who teach math in a departmentalized school, tell us they feel pressure to stick to their standards and don’t have additional time for non-required content.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:28 p.m.

    What a shame. This has so much possibility for getting kids excited about calculation and numerical reasoning, maybe logical reasoning too. From my point of view, these are the kinds of activities kids should be doing regularly. My guess is that there are ways to integrate this with what teachers feel they have to do; I’d be happy to talk some more about that and help you explore it (in all the time I have, ha!). Janet

  • Icon for: Davida Fischman

    Davida Fischman

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 12:23 p.m.

    Very engaging! I actually had to go to your site to try it out. Are other teachers, not in your project, able to set up groups so they can have their students in one group?

    Regarding the mathematics: how much of the mathematical background of the codes is taught to the students?

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 12:40 a.m.

    Yes, anyone can set up a group for their students. They do not need to be directly connected to our project. They just need to register and set up an account.
    As for the mathematics, we assume students have seen the math content in their regular math classes. They apply it as they learn and use the codes. The depth at which the math is covered depends on the club leader. Some leaders are math teachers and can go quite deep into the math content. Others are after school educators who might not even be certified teachers.They tend to cover it at less depth, but students still enjoy the activities.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:30 p.m.

    I’m just thinking that there are others who know how to make these kinds of activities more systematic. Have you talked to Nichole Pinkard about integrating these activities into the system she is building to help teachers add inquiry to their classrooms?

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:55 p.m.

    No, I haven’t talked to Nichole. Thanks for the tip.I will follow up on it.

  • May 11, 2015 | 07:47 p.m.

    Very cool! Did students self-elect to participate in this program, or were they enrolled by a parent, etc?

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 12:50 a.m.

    Reason for participation varies. Some programs are offered as math clubs that students self-elect to attend. Others are part of a larger after school program that offers a variety of clubs, along with homework help and other activities. In such programs, it is often parents who enroll students in the program and students who choose which club they want to participate in.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 11:34 p.m.

    Fascinating! I am a pilot instructor for the College Board’s pilot AP Computer Science Principles course and some of the learning objectives include cryptography and encryption of data for Cyber Security. The main focus for the CSP course is teaching students computing and computational thinking skills. Following up on Sean Smith’s previous comments of curricular connections, has any thought of research been considered on the impact of learning cryptography on computational thinking and preparing students for Computer Science courses? I would really like to know if this would help students who have not been exposed to computer science if this would help them better understand computing, computational thinking and programming. I am also interested in starting a club myself at my school site and see if the computer science students in my CS courses can relate computing to cryptography! I really enjoyed watching and learning about your project!

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:32 p.m.

    I was thinking the same thing. In fact, I was initially surprised that it was about math and not computing. I think it is only a short way from using these activities for math and using them for learning computing concepts. Arthur, I would get together with Janet and figure this out together and pass it on to others who are doing the pilot AP CS course. Try it out. Ask NSF for money to try it out. ;-)

    The other Janet

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:58 p.m.

    Thanks, Janet, for the encouragement.

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 12:56 a.m.

    Thanks for this question. We have just recently begun to explore the possibility of using our curriculum as a setting for teaching computing and computational thinking skills. Tech teachers who have used our material have pointed us in this direction and it seems to be a promising next step. I am interested in learning more about your experiences with cryptography and CS.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 11:02 a.m.

    I will be sharing this resource with the pilot instructors of this course. The website for the pilot AP CSP course is at: http://goo.gl/fuPY7c. We teach 7 big ideas in the pilot AP CSP course and one of the big ideas is the Internet. The AP CSP Curriculum Framework: http://goo.gl/pKaqeV, includes learning objectives on Cyber Security, Cryptography and Encryption, and can be found on page 28 of the curriculum framework. If you would like further information and or have more questions, please contact me. Again, thanks for providing this resource Janet. I am really looking forward to embedding in my course!

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 05:13 p.m.

    Thanks for your interest, Arthur, and for the links to the course site and Framework. I will take a look at them and be in touch.

  • Icon for: Meixia Ding

    Meixia Ding

    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2015 | 11:22 a.m.

    It sounds like a great use of students’ after school time! How is the improvement of students’ mathematical understanding measured?

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:33 p.m.

    Good question. I’d also like to know what teachers have to say about student participation, engagement, like of mathematics, etc.

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:35 p.m.

    Meixia: It has been hard to figure out how to measure improvement in math understanding—we wanted to minimize testing in an after school setting and we found it hard to find appropriate control groups. In the near future, we will investigate mathematics understanding using a talk aloud protocol.
    Janet K: Teachers generally report engagement and enjoyment of the material. One comment we have heard from several teachers is that these activities give students a chance to experience success in math-related activities, when they aren’t necessarily high achievers in regular math class.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:30 a.m.

    Glad to hear those engagement results. It is what I would have expected. My own experience with project-based kinds of activities is that they achieve that, and that the fact that the kids have some success makes some of them more interested and engaged in further discpilineary stuff, also helps with their confidence and with what others thing of them. I think it was Randi Engle who wrote about positioning and its role in learning; feeling more confident should lead to taking on more agency (i.e., feeling positioned to do that), and others appreciating the participation of someone who doesn’t usually participate or do well opens the way for them to feel that this person has reason to participate. It is a set of papers worth looking at, as you could propose a change model that would help you figure out how to integrate these activities into school and how to take advantage of what these kids are doing out of school in the classroom. Lots of opportunities here.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:38 p.m.

    So glad to hear that there are so many materials for teachers. I like this project a lot; it has many of the positive qualities of project-based education, though I can see how it could be integrated in pieces to math class so that it wouldn’t be so scary to integrate project work into math. I know there are folks struggling with how to make math more project-based. It could be that the first step is an approach that uses math challenges (including crypto ones) as capstone projects. Or it could be that a whole curriculum could be built on a combo of cryptology and other problems kids would get excited about. I can see easier problems being used to introduce them to wanting to learn things earlier in the year; adding complexity over time to include the rest. If you are interested in following up on that, let me know.

    the other Janet

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:37 p.m.

    Thanks, Janet. I will follow up with you.

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    Edilson Arenas

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 02:09 a.m.

    I was blown away by the simplicity of this way of engaging kids in this rather dull security topic. I can see in this video the future NSA crypto-scientist. Constructive learning at its best.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:31 a.m.

    Me too. I like simple and elegant ways to address tough problems!

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 07:46 p.m.

    Janet, I can see why you wouldn’t want to introduce a bunch of tests in an after school program—it’s a potential culture killer. I suspect you’re already familiar with the Program in Education, Afterschool, and Resiliancy (pearweb.org). They may have measurement resources that are less obtrusive than traditional content measures.

  • Icon for: Janet Beissinger

    Janet Beissinger

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 09:21 a.m.

    Thanks for the reminder about the PEAR resources, Sean. We custom-made our evaluation tools at the beginning of the project. But I now think it would be wise to look into using what others have developed.

  • Icon for: Deborah Kariuki

    Deborah Kariuki

    Computer Science Teacher
    May 15, 2015 | 10:21 p.m.

    Wow, this is a fantastic program. I will certainly direct and share this with my school district.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.