You might not know it, but I have been working on Plotting Plots for many years (see the origin story here). There were so many iterations of activities and projects, which ultimately led to this. After getting asked by several teachers for resources beyond this website, I decided to put them all down in this post. I will periodically update links over time. Let’s get to it!
Looking for a Ready-to-Go Project?
You can download the latest Reader’s Guide, including 20+ pages of step-by-step instructions and activities for Plotting Plots with your students. (It’s is still a draft, but you are welcome to use it. Just please share feedback!)
Books & Writings
I’ve written three 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:
- Integrating Computer Science Across the Core: Strategies for K-12 Districts | Co-authored with CS education professor Dr. Gerald Ardito and veteran ELA teacher Pam Amendola, this book provides an extremely approachable and practical introduction to computational thinking for teachers of all levels and content-areas.
- 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accessible collection of short pieces drawn from my column in NCTE’s English Journal from 2013-2018–with a previously unpublished introduction.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.
BONUS: For English educators, you might find this conceptual essay useful. It’s called, “Electrical Evocations: Computer Science, the Teaching of Literature, and the Future of English Education”.
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, which I developed for the NYC Department of Education’s Computer Science for All program:
- Plotting Plots [ Original assignment] | 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.
Language Learning Logs
One of the core tenets of work has been to make explicit the linguistic nature of software, indeed all digital phenomena. When we talk about “digital” anything, we are talking about languages that human beings wrote to communicate with each other and machines. To help teachers explore the linguistic nature of programming, I designed this content-agnostic assignment (originally for a university teacher preparation program) that gives students an opportunity to unpack the parallels between learning a computer language and what they already know about human languages. You can download it here.
Conditional Author Activity
In this activity, students can explore authors’ word choices via if-then logic from computer science. This activity is still in draft form, so please share your feedback! You can download it here.
Other Fantastic Resources
- The Bardic Bot: What a fascinating intro to computationality using poetic meter (h/t Pam Amendola)
- AI for Teachers has this excellent unit for British Literature that explores the nature of artificial intelligence through literature
- Google NGram allows you to search up for word frequencies across, well, every book published over the last century and a half. It’s limited in terms of detail and depth, but for breadth it’s astonishing
- Check out The Concord Consortium for a wide array of excellent resource for CT and CS (also h/t Pam Amendola)
- I got started exploring literary data with Voyant Tools, a robust and user-friendly dashboard that makes analyzing literature computationally really easy
- Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn–all @tomliamlynch–so we can be in touch
- If you have other resources, please message me!