Why Computer Science Belongs in English Class

Treat CS like the language art it is

Computer science in ELA class? Yes. Especially in ELA! For a few years now, I have been building the case for teaching computer science in English classes in middle schools and high schools. When I recently discussed the idea with a district official, I realized I didn’t have a single resource I could share with him to learn more. Instead I had lots of pieces scattered around the web. So, here’s a brief overview of some of resources related to teaching CS in ELA. If you too are into this, please @tomliamlynch me on Twitter and join the CS4ELA Facebook group below.  Enjoy.

  • My case for treating CS like a language art. I gave a talk in South Korea this past fall that was then turned into this essay that makes the argument. (The video is very solid, though the first few minutes are bumpy getting things set up.)
  • Sample assignments and units. I wrote these units for the CS4All team last year, which demonstrate how some core principles of data science can deepen and expand traditional secondary English study. In order of complexity, the units are called: Plotting Plots, Counting Characters, and Distant Readings.
  • Robots and Shakespeare. Through the center I co-direct at my university, I co-designed and have implemented a project in which undergraduates analyze Shakespeare in order to program robots. An undergraduate fellow of the center even riffed off the project and ran workshops in which participants program robots to reenact scenes from Friends.
  • A slim volume. I published a collection of essays through Amazon that compiles my columns from NCTE’s English Journal over the last five years. It provides an accessible and engaging (I think!) introduction to the worlds of English and computer science.
  • The online community. I created the CS4ELA group on Facebook recently to help interested English teachers and professors have a shared space to explore possibilities.
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