Computer science in ELA? Yup. Start with this video, which I made to introduce you to a radical idea–that computer science isn’t a subject to teach, but rather a method for teaching that can be embedded everywhere. Enjoy!
Ready to see what this can look like in practice? Check out the resources below. There are four classroom-ready projects (three called mixed literary analyses and one called BardBots) and additional resources, which I update periodically. Enjoy and share!
Mixed Literary Analyses
Mixed literary analyses introduce students to computational text analysis techniques by exposing them to the ways quantitative data about literature can deepen one’s qualitative interpretations. Here are three samples:
- Plotting Plots | Students use word frequency data related to Romeo and Juliet to create an analogue graph of the interplay between “love” and “death”.
- Counting Characters | Students use a web-based text mining application called Voyant Tools to analyze lovers’ relationships in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Distant Readings | Students use Voyant Tools again, this time to analyze ALL of Shakespeare’s tragedies at once.
All units include a three-week curriculum map that leverages The Folger’s Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Set Free.
BardBots: A Shakespearean Introduction to Robotics
BardBots is a project in which students are introduced to key concepts in computational thinking via an unlikely combination: Shakespeare and robots. We believe that the distance between the humanities, the arts, and computer science is not as wide as it appears. The project emerged over a series of conversations where we started thinking creatively about computer science education: What does literary study teach us about computational thinking? What does robotics teach us about humanity? Are computational languages really just another kind of human language? The result is BardBots. And there is a 20+ free curriculum guide available.
I’ve written two books that can be helpful for English teachers as they explore computer science in ELA further–and a very helpful article in NCTE’s English Education. Check them out here:
- Strata and Bones: Selected Essays on Education, Technology, and Teaching English | An accessible collection of short pieces drawn from my column in NCTE’s English Journal from 2013-2018–with a previously unpublished introduction.
- The Hidden Role of Software in Educational Research: Policy to Practice | A narrative journey through the practice and theory of technology in education, based on my years working in NYC schools and leading a large-scale technology initiative for the City of New York.
- “Electrical Evocations: Computer Science, the Teaching of Literature, and the Future of English Education” | A narrative theoretical essay that engagingly walks readers through my personal journey to understanding computer science as necessary to ELA, including lots of practical examples and ideas for moving forward.
- Join the CS4ELA Facebook Group, where you can connect with other educators and stay abreast of ongoing developments
- Sign up for my TLL.FYI newsletter, which I send every 2-4 weeks with updates on learning, teaching, and policy–including CS in ELA
- Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn–all @tomliamlynch–so we can be in touch