Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Reflection of the 2015 Computer Science Education Week

Every year in December, there is a nationwide movement to introduce Computer Science Education to students in K-12 schools.  The purpose of this movement is to expose students to computer science concepts, which allows them to identify and solve problems.  At the +William Davies Middle School, this will be my third year implementing this concept with the students, and every year, the students adapt well and excel with the concepts.  

This year Computer Science Education week was December 7th - December 11th, and it was outstanding!  While implementing Computer Science Education in STEM class, I am fortunate to witness students progress throughout the school year.  Not only do the students feel a sense of accomplishment by completing the hands-on activities, but they build upon problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, collaboration and perseverance.  Why perseverance? Because it teaches students a critical part of coding, the troubleshooting and debugging stage.  By writing and testing a program to execute successfully, perseverance will prevail, which will test a student's patience and skills.

In the beginning of the week, we discussed many fundamental concepts of computer programming, such as, vocabulary, logical thinking, and the impact on humans and the environment.  Here is the presentation I displayed to the students, An Introduction to Computer Programming.  

This year +Beth steinen, the Literacy Media and Technology teacher, Malika Green, the STEM teacher, +Michele Petrucci, a 6th grade math teacher, and +Brian Beck, the health teacher, all introduced Computer Science to their students by using Ozobot, the Hour of Code, or CSFirst and Scratch.  It was a great team effort to expose as many students to Computer Science as possible.

I integrated CS First and Scratch with Malika Green in STEM class.  Each grade level used a different platform to code.  The 6th graders used Hour of Code, the 7th graders used the Sound and Music module in CS First, and the 8th graders used the Sports module in CS First.  The CS First platform integrated Scratch into the activities.

Students were required to watch videos in CS First, which introduced important skills, then follow the directions they needed to create a program using Scratch.  They were fully independent and were able to successfully create the programs that were required.  For example, they included conditional and looping commands, sound and visual effects, and narration using speech bubbles.  

The CS First application allowed me to monitor students progress by using the teacher dashboard. Students needed to save and share their program with me, so that I can review it in the dashboard.  Once it was completed, I rewarded them with a badge in their passport.

During the week, I witness students in STEM class complete many of the activities and most of them said they enjoyed coding.  They took ownership and pride in their coding, showed progress by not only completing the activities, but by collaborating with each other.  They demonstrated critical thinking and problem solving skills, and most of all, the confidence and perseverance to continue with the module.  They proved to themselves they were able to code, successfully!

In conclusion, I feel Computer Science Education is such an important skill to introduce or build upon to students for all ages.  It challenges them to overcome and conquer an unfamiliar concept and/or skill.  It allows students to find and solve problems and prepare them for the real world.  With computer science, students are better prepared to face the technological challenges that face them and our society.  They realize that technology is a critical component of our daily lives and more importantly, the component that influences their future.  

Here is a link and below is a slideshow during the week of Computer Science, Enjoy!

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