Theme of the month

Theme of the Month

Join us each month as we focus on a topic of interest to STEM Teacher Leaders with a webinar panel, open
discussion, resources and blog post. 

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Join the Discussion: Integrating Computer Science and Computational Thinking in the Pre K-8 Grades

In this facilitated discussion starting June 10th, we will discuss the challenge and importance of Integrating Computer Science and Computational Thinking in the Pre K-8 Grades. We invite your participation!

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The panelists spoke of the strategy to integrate CS and CT into other subjects as a way to get these subjects to elementary students. Would love to hear from educators how you have done this in your district. If your elementary school students are getting exposed to CS and CT is this a subject on its own? integrated into math or science? or into the arts? Please write and share your experience. 

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 2:38 PM Permalink

Since I only have standalone CS classes with 5th & 8th graders, most of my job is to find ways to integrate CS across grade levels, but especially with the 6th and 7th grade. I have found these collaborative opportunities by employing a strategy I call, "You, me, we" (ignore the pithy title...just helps me remember how it works =)  

First, I set up a time to meet with a subject area teacher. I tell them that meeting is all about "you", the teacher. I invite them to share their curriculum, current projects, projects/aspects of their current curriculum they would love to change, current learning objectives, etc. 

The "me" part of the strategy occurs after my meeting with the teacher. I let them know that I'd like to take 2-3 weeks to think about their curriculum, and find ways to incorporate CS into their curriculum. I then begin brainstorming new projects, ideas, and ways I could possibly collaborate with this teacher. I create a variety of ideas - some which only require one class period, to others that would require up to 2 weeks of class time. 

The "we" part of the strategy occurs when the teacher and I get together again. First, I let them know there is NO obligation to collaborate. Teaching is never static, there are always new demands, constraints, etc., which may not allow for a collaboration. I then share some of the project ideas that I've created. I let them know details like (1) how much class time this will take, (2) opportunities for students to have agency within the project, (3) what the final project will look like (I usually create a mock up). 

I will admit that my schedule allows me to not only teach my classes, but push-into other teacher's classes in order to teach the CS component of the project. That said, this strategy has led to many successful collaborative projects within our school.

I wonder how others find ways to collaborate? I'd love to know! 

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 2:23 PM Permalink

hi, 

   I was interested by your strategy for integrating CS across the curriculum.  How does this fit into the school's culture?  I mean, is this all just collegial collaboration — whether at your initiation or your colleague's— or do you have a specific role as CS coach (for example)?  Either way, it sounds like your school is really interested in this as an area of growth.

-- brian 

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:52 AM Permalink
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In reply to by Brian Drayton

Hi Brian, 

Yes, this is all through collegial collaboration. My role is as MS Computer Science teacher, but I am grateful to be part of a school where collaboration amongst teachers is commonplace.

In addition to the challenge of school culture, another challenge I've seen amongst other CS teachers is simply that they don't have time built into their schedules where they can collaborate with others. Most CS teachers I know are given a full load of classes, AND have to manage tech responsibilities within their school. Admin who hire these teachers usually have some preexisting requirement that says a teacher has to teach a certain number of classes in order to justify full time pay. 

I am thankful that my school also did not subscribe to this old model when hiring for my position. They had me teach a limited number of classes so that I had plenty of time to collaborate with teachers. 

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 1:59 PM Permalink

There are many areas in elementary grades that allow the seamless integration of CS/CT using plugged or unplugged activities. Here are a few ideas:  

  • Identifying and discussing problem solving strategies.
  • Sorting activities
  • Revising work
  • Using digital tools to connect and collaborate.  This can be accomplished within your own classroom, but collaboration can also occur within the school, district, state-wide, etc.
  • Creating research based products
Tue, 06/16/2020 - 5:18 PM Permalink
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In reply to by Melissa Rasberry

Here are a few ideas:

 

Hope these help! Feel free to reach out at heidi@stretchinstructor.com if you have any further questions.

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 6:06 PM Permalink
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Welcome to our discussion board.  On our webinar, we focused on how initiating a focus on CS and CT has the potential of overcoming the severe lack of diversity in who becomes a computer science.  A core principle of being in K-8 and integrating CS and CT is that potentially all students participate.  But that only works as a model of change if all schools are offering those opportunities.   What is going on in your state or district to build capacity at those schools and district serving communities where economic disadvantages are more widespread?

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 10:39 AM Permalink
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I was able to introduce students to artificial intelligence after taking free online classes located here: https://www.mymindsparklearning.org/ibm-ai-education.  It was easy to adjust course material to meet student needs.  My middle school students enjoyed the interactive lessons that included learning about chatbots, machine learning, ethics and biases, and self driving cars.  Utilizing these lessons have given me ideas on how to better teach computational thinking, one of the Next Generation Science Standards practices.  
 

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 8:34 AM Permalink
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