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Snapshot 2 of 2: How to Help Spanish-Speaking Students Learn & Love to Program

[Listen and learn : Snapshot]

Tuesday, June 28, 4:00–5:00 pm
CCC 601, Table 2

favoritesNadia Repenning  favoritesYadira Valadez  
Learn how Scalable Game Design Mexico collaborated with University of Colorado to develop Spanish programming materials and found ways to help novice students learn coding and computational thinking. We'll discuss challenges of language, cultural barriers and lack of infrastructure and offer strategies to overcome them.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Communication and collaboration
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: ESL
ISTE Standards: Administrators : Visionary leadership
Teachers : Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Students : Communication and collaboration
Additional detail: Global Collaboration strand session

Digital tote resources

Description: Student Guide for Frogger in Spanish
Description: Frogger Guided-Discovery Lesson Plan in Spanish
Description: AgentCubes Online General Public Tutorial in Spanish
Description: Tutorial for Frogger AgentCubes Online in Spanish
Description: Scalable Game Design Summary in Spanish

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of the Snapshot session is to introduce participants to an innovative method of engaging Spanish-speaking students in programming activities, so that we can expose and engage more Hispanic students to computer science, which ultimately may lead to a greater diversity in the computer science work force.

Objectives of the session are for participants to 1) become aware of the availability of a computational thinking tool available in Spanish (AgentCubes Online and AgentCubes downloadable), with Spanish teaching support materials; 2) understand that infrastructure and language barrier challenges were encountered and how we overcame those challenges – and how the strategies would apply in US schools, 3) instructional strategies used to teach computing to non-English speakers, 4) through direct experience (walking the participants through the programming activity in a non-English language), develop understanding and empathy for students who are ELL, and 5) global collaboration for this project is where the world is moving, that the work we each do in the classroom can positively impact those living far away, and 6) teachers can make the biggest difference for ELL students joining the computer science discipline, but it also takes visionary leadership in schools and districts.


Content will directly address the objectives mentioned previously. Average of 5 minutes maximum for each objective, with more time on the direct-experience segment. Presentation process will blend didactic talk with slides, demonstration of software, direct-experience activity where participants will help with programming.

Supporting research

We developed a Spanish (translatable to English) website for the Mexico project; This Facebook site shows the Scalable Game Design Mexico site:
Over 1000 students have
already participated in 5 months of work.

Scalable Game Design project is the largest middle grades (5 to 9) computer science education research project funded by the National Science Foundation: Scalable Game
Design including computational thinking tools employed
(AgentSheets/AgentCubes) has been supported with ~$20M by the National
Science Foundation, Google, the National Institutes of Health and many other
Project site with references: Evidence of relevance: - academic
publications, e.g., Repenning, A., Webb, D. C., Koh, K. H., Nickerson H., Miller,
S. B., Brand, C., et al., "Scalable Game Design: A Strategy to Bring Systemic
Computer Science Education to Schools through Game Design and Simulation
Creation," Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), vol. 15, pp. 1-31,
Popular press, e.g., WIRED: -
videos, e.g., high production video made by Google as part of the 2015 Google
RISE program: - TV,
e.g. FOX31:



favorites Nadia Repenning, Computational Thinking Foundation

favorites Yadira Valadez, Scalable Game Design