2018 Computer Science Institute

 

Building the Next Generation of Computer Science Teachers

In February, over 100 teachers from across the five boroughs of New York City attended CS4All’s Computer Science Institute, a four-day professional learning opportunity designed for teachers who want to infuse computer science (CS) concepts and practices into their classrooms. Teachers from all grade levels and backgrounds joined: math teachers, art and dance teachers, as well as special education and ESL teachers were in attendance. Many participating teachers had no prior knowledge of CS, but were eager to learn and embark on their CS journey.

Jacqueline Anderson, a fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 270 Johann DeKalb in Brooklyn, came with an open mind and was excited to learn more about CS. When asked what led her to the Institute, Jacqueline said, “I couldn’t say no to this incredible opportunity. I’m a teacher who is constantly looking for new and creative ways to engage my students, and challenge myself to become a better teacher. I want to be part of the next level of where
we’re going with education. Computer science is the next level.”

Attendees received training from eleven partner organizations that specialize in computer science and STEM education, and were matched with the organization that best met their needs and interests. Throughout the week math teachers learned how to teach students algebraic concepts through programming and game design. Elementary school teachers learned how to teach their youngest students CS through creative unplugged activities, like storytelling and crafting, making it easy for them to inject CS into everyday learning situations and curriculum. Other teachers learned how to use the appeal of dance to expose students to coding with the help of wearable and programmable technology.

Meghan Cerrone, an elementary art teacher at East Elmhurst Community School in Queens, couldn’t wait to teach her students about coding and circuitry through dance. “Dancing in itself is a form of coding. You’re telling someone to do something, an input, and they do the action, an output. I’m excited to see my kids choreograph a dance together and program the wearable technology to match their movement. It’s hands-on and interactive – an easy and fun way to teach students about programming, collaboration, and communication.” Meghan is also enlisting the support of her school’s science teacher in her efforts to bring CS to her school community. “Our science teacher and I will be working closely together. I’ll teach kids how to code with dance, and she’ll teach them about circuits in her science class. Our kids will be learning with their bodies and their brains.”

By the end of the Institute, teachers had built a strong learning community with each other, gained confidence in their knowledge of CS, and were ready to bring what they’ve learned back to their students.

“On my first day I felt like I went from standing in still water to getting thrown into the deep end. I thought ‘OMG!’, but I trusted the process.  I realized I needed to take the perspective of a student and learn what I’m being taught. By Day 2, I got it. I knew I could do it.  I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore, I was swimming!”, said Jacqueline Anderson.

“It has clicked for me: computer science concepts can be applied in ELA, math, anywhere that students need to learn problem solving skills and build a growth mindset. It helps kids learn that it’s OK to fail”, said Katherine Charris, a special education teacher at PS 90 in Queens.

The Institute concluded with a showcase where teachers proudly shared their learnings and the projects they worked on with each other. Special guests including Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg, CS4All funders, and members of the CS4All Advisory Council joined in on the celebration.



 

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