A Framework for Integration

Three levels for integration

When considering how to integrate CT into existing materials, there are three levels of integration that relate to the degree to which the existing unit already engages CT through the scientific/mathematical thinking that is already part of the lessons.

  1. CT concepts, skills, and practices that already exist in the lessons and can simply be called out or elaborated upon with examples of how they can also relate to computers or other technology (e.g., students use physical models to understand a science phenomenon).
  2. Additional tasks or lessons to enhance the disciplinary concept and provide clear connection to computing concepts (e.g., students initially gather data on their own, create a visual representation by hand, and analyze their data; CT enhancement activities might be to plan a strategy for data collection on a larger scale, and use spreadsheets to log, organize, and create representations of the resulting data set for further analysis).
  3. New lessons or sequences of lessons that extend the disciplinary concept as a basis for CS exploration, likely involving programming activities (e.g., students use and modify variables or underlying code in a computer simulation to investigate how dynamic systems change over time).


The pages in this section provide more detail for each of these levels, along with examples of each from one of the available IMods on the site, Populations and Habitat.

This IMod, built to integrate into a Grade 3 life sciences unit, illustrates all three levels of integration as described above. An essential question the unit addresses is: “What happens to the survival of local populations if they cannot meet their needs with the resources available?” The source unit included the Oh Deer! game adapted from Project Wild. This game models interconnections between a deer population and available resources over a period of time. Students are assigned roles as deer or as resources (food, water, shelter). The game is played outdoors, in rounds. In each round, deer seek out a resource; those that find their resource survive into the next round and “reproduce” (the paired resource becomes a deer in the subsequent round); those deer that cannot find their resource “die” and become a resource for the next round.

Similar number of deer and resources

Many deer, few resources

After a number of rounds, a wolf is introduced and the simulation continues, with additional rules taking the predator into account. Students record the counts of resources, deer, and wolves at the end of each round, and discuss what causes the populations to fluctuate.

Teachers reported that the lessons developed target CT while also promoting their students’ scientific sense-making. During the physical simulation, students debugged the model, identifying limitations, and suggesting clearer rules to improve it. They relied on their experiences to interpret the data they charted and to understand the electronic spreadsheet and the graph it produced. They also connected the game and their own data to the 100-year simulations produced by the spreadsheet model. Teachers were surprised and excited by the depth of their students’ thinking.