Tinkering with Logo in an Elementary Mathematics Methods Course

Main Article Content

Keri Duncan Valentine


With an increased push to integrate coding and computational literacy in K–12 learning environments, teacher educators will need to consider ways they might support preservice teachers (PSTs). This paper details a tinkering approach used to engage PSTs in thinking computationally as they worked with geometric concepts they will be expected to teach in K–5. Experiences programming in Logo to construct authentic artifacts in the form of two-dimensional geometric graphics not only supported PSTs’ understanding of core geometric and spatial concepts, but also helped them to make connections between mathematics and computational literacy. Artifacts and discourse are discussed as they relate to three core considerations: engaging learners to construct authentic artifacts, supporting a communitarian ethos, and supporting various types of rapid feedback.

Article Details

Voices from the Field


Akcaoglu, M., & Kale, U. (2017, November 18). Call for man- uscripts: Special issue: Tinkering in technology-rich design contexts. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZSSkH3ZyYa8KF/

Barr, V., & Stephenson, C. (2011). Bringing computational thinking to K–12: What is involved and what is the role of the computer science education community? ACM Inroads, 2(1), 48–54.

Berland, M. (2016). Making, tinkering, and computational literacy. In K. Peppler, E. Rosenfeld Halverson, & Y. B. Kafai (Eds.), Makeology: Makers as learners (Vol. 2, pp. 201–209). Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Berland, M., Martin, T., Benton, T., Petrick Smith, C., & Davis, D. (2013). Using learning analytics to understand the learning pathways of novice programmers. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 22(4), 564–599.

Brennan, K., Balch, C., & Chung, M. (2014). Creative computing. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/guide/files/CreativeComputing20141015.pdf

Brennan, K., & Resnick, M. (2012). New frameworks for studying and assessing the development of computational thinking. Presented at the American Educational Research Associa- tion, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Retrieved from http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/ct/files/AERA2012.pdf

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.

Dick, T. P., & Hollebrands, K. F. (2011). Focus in high school mathematics: Technology to support reasoning and sense making. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

diSessa, A. A. (2001). Changing minds: Computers, learning, and literacy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Grover, S., & Pea, R. (2013). Computational thinking in K–12: A review of the state of the field. Educational Researcher, 42(1), 38–43.

Kafai, Y. B., & Burke, Q. (2014). Connected code: Why children need to learn programming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (2014). The philosophy of educational makerspaces: Part 1 of making an educational makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8–11.

Lifelong Kindergarten Group. (2017, July 16). Scratch— Imagine, Program, Share. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://scratch.mit.edu/

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2014). Principles to actions: Ensuring mathematical success for all. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Papert, S. (1993). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books. Sheridan, K., Halverson, E. R., Litts, B., Brahms, L., Jacobs- Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014). Learning in the making: A comparative case study of three makerspaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505–531.

Weintrop, D., Beheshti, E., Horn, M., Orton, K., Jona, K., Trouille, L., & Wilensky, U. (2015). Defining computational thinking for mathematics and science classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(1), 127–147.

Wing, J. M. (2008). Computational thinking and thinking about computing. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 366(1881), 3717–3725.

Yadav, A., Stephenson, C., & Hong, H. (2017). Computa- tional thinking for teacher education. Communications of the ACM, 60(4), 55–62.