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  1. Background/Context:

    Computer programming is rarely accessible to K–12 students, especially for those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Middle school age is a transitioning time when adolescents are more likely to make long-term decisions regarding their academic choices and interests. Having access to productive and positive knowledge and experiences in computer programming can grant them opportunities to realize their abilities and potential in this field.

    Purpose/Focus of Study:

    This study focuses on the exploration of the kind of relationship that bilingual Latinx students developed with themselves and computer programming and mathematics (CPM) practices through their participation in a CPM after-school program, first as students and then as cofacilitators teaching CPM practices to other middle school peers.

    Setting:

    An after-school program, Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME), was held at two middle schools located in rural and urban areas in the Southwest. It was designed to support an inclusive cultural environment that nurtured students’ opportunities to learn CPM practices through the inclusion of languages (Spanish and English), tasks, and participants congruent to students in the program. Students learned how to represent, design, and program digital images and videos using a sequence of 2D arrays of hexadecimal numbers with Python on a Raspberry Pi computer. The six bilingual cofacilitators attended Levels 1 and 2 as students and were offered the opportunity to participate as cofacilitators in the next implementation of Level 1.

    Research Design:

    This longitudinal case study focused on analyzing the experiences and shifts (if any) of students who participated as cofacilitators in AOLME. Their narratives were analyzed collectively, and our analysis describes the experiences of the cofacilitators as a single case study (with embedded units) of what it means to be a bilingual cofacilitator in AOLME. Data included individual exit interviews of the six cofacilitators and their focus groups (30–45 minutes each), an adapted 20-item CPM attitude 5-point Likert scale, and self-report from each of them. Results from attitude scales revealed cofacilitators’ greater initial and posterior connections to CPM practices. The self-reports on CPM included two number lines (0–10) for before and after AOLME for students to self-assess their liking and knowledge of CPM. The numbers were used as interview prompts to converse with students about experiences. The interview data were analyzed qualitatively and coded through a contrast-comparative process regarding students’ description of themselves, their experiences in the program, and their perception of and relationship toward CPM practices.

    Findings:

    Findings indicated that students had continued/increased motivation and confidence in CPM as they engaged in a journey as cofacilitators, described through two thematic categories: (a) shifting views by personally connecting to CPM, and (b) affirming CPM practices through teaching. The shift in connecting to CPM practices evolved as students argued that they found a new way of learning mathematics, in that they used mathematics as a tool to create videos and images that they programmed by using Python while making sense of the process bilingually (Spanish and English). This mathematics was viewed by students as high level, which in turned helped students gain self-confidence in CPM practices. Additionally, students affirmed their knowledge and confidence in CPM practices by teaching them to others, a process in which they had to mediate beyond the understanding of CPM practices. They came up with new ways of explaining CPM practices bilingually to their peers. In this new role, cofacilitators considered the topic and language, and promoted a communal support among the peers they worked with.

    Conclusions/Recommendations:

    Bilingual middle school students can not only program, but also teach bilingually and embrace new roles with nurturing support. Schools can promote new student roles, which can yield new goals and identities. There is a great need to redesign the school mathematics curriculum as a discipline that teenagers can use and connect with by creating and finding things they care about. In this way, school mathematics can support a closer “fit” with students’ identification with the world of mathematics. Cofacilitators learned more about CPM practices by teaching them, extending beyond what was given to them, and constructing new goals that were in line with a sophisticated knowledge and shifts in the practice. Assigned responsibility in a new role can strengthen students’ self-image, agency, and ways of relating to mathematics.

     
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  2. The paper develops datasets and methods to assess student participation in real-life collaborative learning environments. In collaborative learning environments, students are organized into small groups where they are free to interact within their group. Thus, students can move around freely causing issues with strong pose variation, move out and re-enter the camera scene, or face away from the camera. We formulate the problem of assessing student participation into two subproblems: (i) student group detection against strong background interference from other groups, and (ii) dynamic participant tracking within the group. A massive independent testing dataset of 12,518,250 student label instances, of total duration of 21 hours and 22 minutes of real-life videos, is used for evaluating the performance of our proposed method for student group detection. The proposed method of using multiple image representations is shown to perform equally or better than YOLO on all video instances. Over the entire dataset, the proposed method achieved an F1 score of 0.85 compared to 0.80 for YOLO. Following student group detection, the paper presents the development of a dynamic participant tracking system for assessing student group participation through long video sessions. The proposed dynamic participant tracking system is shown to perform exceptionally well, missing a student in just one out of 35 testing videos. In comparison, a stateof- the-art method fails to track students in 14 out of the 35 testing videos. The proposed method achieves 82.3% accuracy on an independent set of long, real-life collaborative videos. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 8, 2025
  3. This commentary focuses on reflections involving the special issue on Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Computing in Multilingual Contexts and the important role that Teachers College Record has played in fostering creative interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers, graduate students, teachers, K-12 students, and parents. A discussion is included on how participating as a Guest Lead Editor of this special issue afforded opportunities to learn more about projects that integrate mathematics and computing as well as transformations that have impacted the work we do in our respective fields. Multilingual contexts contribute much to our understanding of global perspectives on mathematics education. Taking up a memorable moment that involved such a context, I discuss future directions for the Teachers College Record as we consider reaching to multilingual audiences. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. We present an integrated mathematics and computer programming curriculum for teaching bilingual middle school students how to code using digital video representations. Building on the student's familiarity with digital video, we introduce them to number representations (e.g., binary and hexadecimals), NumPy arrays, coordinate systems, color, frames, and how to combine them into digital video content. The curriculum is fully integrated with middle school mathematics. Middle school students who completed the curriculum joined undergraduate students to co-teach the curriculum in a small group collaborative learning environment. We found evidence of successful implementations based on video recordings of student and facilitator interactions, attitude scales, student exit interviews, and samples of student work. 
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  5. Discourse used by facilitators is fundamental in providing culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students with opportunities to develop computational thinking through computer programming (CT-CP). Drawing on systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and situated learning, we illustrate how a group of CLD novice students of CT-CP, their language arts teacher (novice), and facilitator collaborated to program a digital video representation in Python. Data sources included video clips of group interactions, student-developed code, and student artifacts. Our findings indicate that 1) Encouraging the students to use Spanish and English freely in a motivational and collaborative environment can induce them to take on leading positions in CTCP practices and develop CT-CP and 2) using SFL to analyze CT-CP educational contexts is a powerful resource. 
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  6. This study explores the relationship Latino/a students developed with Computer Science (CS) and Mathematics while experiencing the Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME) curriculum in an after-school setting. Guided by sociocultural perspectives, the authors employed a mixed methods research design to explore how AOLME affects Latino/a students’ knowledge and enjoyment of CS and Mathematics (CSM). Findings show that AOLME is a successful example of integrated CSM curriculum design for K-12 learners by balancing the individual and social classroom setting. Quantitative data analysis indicates that students had significant increases in their self-reported enjoyment and knowledge in CS and Mathematics as they engaged in AOLME. Qualitative data provide evidence that AOLME prepared students with the foundational knowledge, skills, and practices for future endeavors in STEM fields. 
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  7. Understanding how students compose CSM ideas is essential for engagement, the development of content knowledge, and a robust STEM identity. This case study focuses on the linguistic and pedagogical transformations during computer science and mathematics learning. We document these transformations accompanying idea formation and authorship to identify three essential findings: 1) Translanguaging provides a pedagogical tool for epistemic generativity, 2) Idea-crafting and pedagogical modeling, and 3) The concept of self-pedagogy. Students use translanguaging, exercising epistemic agency to order their learning experience and providing opportunities to reposition themselves and others. In one learning sequence, Joaquin, a student co-facilitator, uses space-time marking to help manage/organize current activity with past experience. These links establish an episodic account of learning that is managed, organized, and referenced as part of a larger narrative. In doing so, he authors a model that provides a substantive connection to content for his peers. 
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  8. Background/Context: After-school programs that focus on integrating computer programming and mathematics in authentic environments are seldomly accessible to students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly bilingual Latina students in rural contexts. Providing a context that broadens Latina students’ participation in mathematics and computer programming requires educators to carefully examine how verbal and nonverbal language is used to interact and to position students as they learn new concepts in middle school. This is also an important stage for adolescents because they are likely to make decisions about their future careers in STEM. Having access to discourse and teaching practices that invite students to participate in mathematics and computer programming affords them opportunities to engage with these fields. Purpose/Focus of Study: This case study analyzes how small-group interactions mediated the positionings of Cindy, a bilingual Latina, as she learned binary numbers in an after-school program that integrated computer programming and mathematics (CPM). Setting: The Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME) program was held in a rural bilingual (Spanish and English) middle school in the Southwest. The after-school program was designed to provide experiences for primarily Latinx students to learn how to integrate mathematics with computer programming using Raspberry Pi and Python as a platform. Our case study explores how Cindy was positioned as she interacted with two undergraduate engineering students who served as facilitators while learning binary numbers with a group of three middle school students. Research Design: This single intrinsic case focused on exploring how small-group interactions among four students mediated Cindy’s positionings as she learned binary numbers through her participation in AOLME. Data sources included twelve 90-minute video sessions and Cindy’s journal and curriculum binder. Video logs were created, and transcripts were coded to describe verbal and nonverbal interactions among the facilitators and Cindy. Analysis of select episodes was conducted using systemic functional linguistics (SFL), specifically language modality, to identify how positioning took place. These episodes and positioning analysis describe how Cindy, with others, navigated the process of learning binary numbers under the stereotype that female students are not as good at mathematics as male students. Findings: From our analysis, three themes that emerged from the data portray Cindy’s experiences learning binary numbers. The major themes are: (1) Cindy’s struggle to reveal her understanding of binary numbers in a competitive context, (2) Cindy’s use of “fake it until you make it” to hide her cognitive dissonance, and (3) the use of Spanish and peers’ support to resolve Cindy’s understanding of binary numbers. The positioning patterns observed help us learn how, when Cindy’s bilingualism was viewed and promoted as an asset, this social context worked as a generative axis that addressed the challenges of learning binary numbers. The contrasting episodes highlight the facilitators’ productive teaching strategies and relations that nurtured Cindy’s social and intellectual participation in CPM. Conclusions/Recommendations: Cindy’s case demonstrates how the facilitator’s teaching, and participants’ interactions and discourse practices contributed to her qualitatively different positionings while she learned binary numbers, and how she persevered in this process. Analysis of communication acts supported our understanding of how Cindy’s positionings underpinned the discourse; how the facilitators’ and students’ discourse formed, shaped, or shifted Cindy’s positioning; and how discourse was larger than gender storylines that went beyond classroom interactions. Cindy’s case reveals the danger of placing students in “struggle” instead of a “productive struggle.” The findings illustrated that when Cindy was placed in struggle when confronting responding moves by the facilitator, her “safe” reaction was hiding and avoiding. In contrast, we also learned about the importance of empathetic, nurturing supporting responses that encourage students’ productive struggle to do better. We invite instructors to notice students’ hiding or avoiding and consider Cindy’s case. Furthermore, we recommend that teachers notice their choice of language because this is important in terms of positioning students. We also highlight Cindy’s agency as she chose to take up her friend’s suggestion to “fake it” rather than give up. 
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