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Limudei Code-Esh: Tu B’shevat

CODING AS LITERACY (CAL) APPROACH

Download and review the TuBshevat Curriculum Document to learn more or to start using it today!

The “Limudei Code-Esh: Tu B’shevat” curriculum introduces powerful ideas from computer science, specifically programming with ScratchJr, to children in Kindergarten through 3nd grade in a structured, developmentally appropriate way in the context of Jewish education. The Coding as Literacy (CAL) approach, developed by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers and members of her DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, understands the learning of computer science as a literacy for the 21st century computer science ideas into direct conversation with powerful ideas from literacy. Both can support learners in developing new ways of thinking about themselves and the world.
Thinking involves the ability to make sense of, interpret, represent, model, predict, and invent our experiences in the world. Thus, as educators, we must give children one of the most powerful tools for thinking: language. The term language refers here to a system of communication, natural or artificial, composed of a formal limited system of signs, governed by syntactic and grammatical combinatory rules, that serves to communicate meaning by encoding and decoding information. Today, we have the opportunity to not only teach children how to think by using natural languages, such as English or Hebrew, but also by learning artificial languages—programming languages such as ScratchJr.
The achievement of literacy in a natural language involves a progression of skills beginning with the ability to understand spoken words, followed by the capacity to code and decode written words, and culminating in the deep understanding, interpretation, and production of text. The ultimate goal of literacy is not only for children to master the syntax and grammar, the orthography and morphology, but also the semantics and pragmatics, the meanings and uses of words, sentences and genres. A literate person knows that reading and writing are tools for meaning making and, ultimately, tools of power because they support new ways of thinking.
The CAL approach proposes that programming, as a literacy of the 21st century, engages new ways of thinking and new ways of communicating and expressing ideas, as well as new ways of problem solving and working with others. CAL understands the process of coding as a semiotic act, a meaning making activity that engages children in both developing computational thinking, as well as promoting personal expression, communication, and interpretation. This understanding shapes this curriculum and our strategies for teaching coding.
The curriculum is organized around powerful ideas from both computer science and Jewish studies, as well as fundamental ideas from literacy. The term powerful idea refers to a central concept or skills within a discipline that is simultaneously personally useful, inherently interconnected with other disciplines, and has roots in intuitive knowledge that a child has internalized over a long period of time. Powerful Ideas from the core domains of Computer Science, Tu B’shevat, and Literacy are represented throughout this curriculum, and are described below.

Download and review the TuBshevat Curriculum Document to learn more or to start using it today!