Overarching Introduction and Rationale

The Arts and Digital Technology

This assignment focuses on using the different forms of art as a different perspective to learn about Computational Thinking. Computational Thinking was introduced into the Australian Curriculum recently within the Digital Technologies part of the Technologies curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014a). Learning about digital technologies is important as about 98% of Australian homes have a computer (DeBortoli et al., 2014), and the presence of digital technologies will only increase in Australian schools with the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians stating “In this digital age, young people need to be highly skilled in the use of ICT. While schools already employ these technologies in learning, there is a need to increase their effectiveness significantly over the next decade” (MCEETYA, 2008, p 5). With this focus on ICT in schools, digital technologies and computational thinking are frequently paired with ‘coding’ with programs such as Scratch (Scratch, n.d.), OSMO (OSMO, n.d.) dominating digital and augmented reality platforms, and devices such as Bee-bots (Bee-Bots, 2016) and Lego Mindstorm allowing students to program robots (Mindstorms, n.d.).

Computational Thinking

[Figure 1.0 Primary Quickstart image – Computational Thinking]

However, computational thinking doesn’t have to be taught using digital technology and many of the concepts such as logic, algorithms, decomposition, patterns, abstraction and evaluation, (as can be seen in Figure 1.0 )(Quickstart Computing, n.d.)  can be approached in non-digital ways that are already used in classrooms and easily lend themselves to practises within The Arts. CSUnplugged is representative of a movement to teach computational thinking without using a computer (CSUnplugged, n.d.).

[Video: trailer for CSunplugged]

Sequence of Lessons

For this assignment, I have chosen to use a thematic approach to arts education. I have focussed on teaching computational thinking and relevant aspects of the Digital Technologies curriculum in conjunction with The Arts curriculum.

The sequences are:

Title Art(s) Year
Dot Painting and Binary Code Visual Arts Year 4
Programmable Dancing Dance Year 3
Musical Code Music Year 1

The main focus in these units is teaching via teacher-led guided inquiry challenges (Chen & Tytler, 2017) which focus on the teacher providing students with the opportunity to explore each of The Arts as audience and construct their own art works as artist, with the scope to explore their own ideas and express themselves, art as experience (Dinham, 2013, p. 42). It is assumed that before Dot Painting and Binary Code and Programmable Dancing that students will have learned the beginnings of each of the Digital Technologies they are working with and that The Arts will deepen their understanding by providing an engaging non-digital real-world application of these ideas. It is assumed that in Musical Code that students may have implicitly touched on representations of data before. Within each unit the emphasis is an authentic learning of The Arts involved, including exploring, breaking down their components and learning relevant techniques. The following is a summary of the units with reference to what students will learn. For the sake of brevity, the details relating these units to the Australian Curriculum are listed in subsequent sections.

Dot Painting and Binary Code

Dot Painting will begin with a brief introduction into Aboriginal dot painting to engage students and give them the opportunity to explore it on their own. This is followed by an extended lesson with a local Aboriginal artist teaching them its history, its place in their culture and explicitly how to paint using this technique. With the artist’s guidance, students will create their own dot paintings and present their work and discuss their ideas with the class, artist and teacher. The students will then watch a video of an Indigenous story, discuss its potential meaning and learn about the symbols and icons within the video. They will then create their own painting of their favourite part of the story using dot painting and incorporate a secret message using binary code, as early dot painters did using symbols and icons. Students then have the opportunity of locating and decoding the secret messages hidden within each other’s paintings. By painting their own art work, students will have the opportunity to respond to the Aboriginal story, expressing themselves by selecting which part of the story to convey and how to do it, and what sort of message they wish to hide. Encoding and decoding binary code within the art work will consolidate digital technologies skills they had been previously learning.

Programmable Dancing

Students will begin by expressing the emotions of happiness and sadness to music. The will break down the moves that they did to convey their emotion by drawing them in a simple picture will get students to focus on the particular movements. They will watch a video where the idea of creating a vocabulary of dance and how choreography could be considered a type of algorithmic thinking. They will then select music and create a program using the drawings of new moves they create to convey a particular emotion. This program will be performed by other one of the other groups. This is designed to get students to break down the dance moves, which are essentially a series of instructions, which can be communicated and guide performances at a later time.

Musical Code

This unit will focus on students exploring aspects of beat and tempo by using clapping and bodily percussion. Led by the teacher, they will follow the beat and explore musical styles. The teacher will then create a chant, where students must clap on the beat and pause on a rest. They will revisit the music to see how their ideas about it have changed after they have been exploring beat and tempo. The students will then be challenged to see if they could create representations (drawings) of the beats in the chant. This would be further extended by getting them to alter the beat/tempo of the chant by using longer beats or faster beats. Students will again create representations for these new beats and together the class will determine which representations best depicts the chant. The following lessons, they will use the representations to create their own new and interesting beats. The will examine how creating representations of the music has allowed them to transfer data from one format to another. This unit will get students to explore beat and tempo, using body percussion and get them to draw representations of the beats and challenge them be creative in coming up with their own beats and rhythms.


Formative and summative assessments are part of modern teaching. Formative Assessments provide teachers with insight into the student’s progress and allow them to modify their future teaching (Godhino, 2016a, p. 217), while Summative Assessments are used at the conclusion of a unit of work to provide feedback to the student about their work and as part of education record-keeping (Godhino, 2016a, p. 217). The units in this assignment have a number of opportunities for providing formative assessment, where students can be provided with feedback to inform their final art work. For example, in Dot Painting and Binary Code, students provide early attempts at dot painting, which would be used as formative assessment of their technique of dot painting. Students in each unit have the opportunity for class discussion, where the teacher would monitor their ideas and provide feedback (in private conference or as part of class discussion). For example, in the same sequence, students discuss the symbolism and iconography of Indigenous Australian stories. Summative Assessment comes at the end of the sequence and the artefacts would be assessed according to a rubric for each unit, determining whether they fulfilled the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, which are discussed in each of the following sections.

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