Posts tagged ‘K12’
Nice to hear that computing education will be at SXSW.
I’m pleased to announce that my SXSWedu proposal “Engaging Students with Computer Science Education” has been accepted as a panel discussion! Here is a brief abstract describing the purpose of the session:
“Current trends show a loss of student interest in computer science careers and degrees across the U.S., especially among women and minorities, even though the need for qualified candidates in this field has never been greater. Across the country, computer science experts, computer science educators, researchers, and even policymakers are developing initiatives that address these problems.
In this panel, the leaders of three such initiatives will share their perspectives on computer science education, gender and diversity in the field, and high-quality instructional design for computer science students and teachers alike. Their respective programs, Project Engage (University of Texas, Austin), Exploring Computer Science: Los Angeles (UCLA), and New Mexico Computer Science for All (University of New Mexico) represent the latest large-scale efforts in computer science education. Educators, practitioners, and researchers can all learn from their collective expertise.”
An interesting set of research questions!
This weekend CSTA Chair Deborah Seehorn and I were attending the ACM Education Council meetings and, as part of the meeting, we participated in a group discussion about critical questions in computer science education research led by CSTA Past Chair Steve Cooper.
Our discussion group consisted of Deborah Seehorn from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Steve Cooper from Stanford University, Dan Garcia from Berkeley, and myself. Because we all have deep roots in K-12 computer science education, the list of questions we came up with covered a breadth of issues and reflect the deep need for research-grounded solutions to the issues we now face.
Try out the tutorials for the Hour of Code for CSEd Week 2013.
Choose a tutorial for your students
Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Note: we have not yet received the Hour of Code submissions from Scratch or KhanAcademy, so check back for those. Also, more international/multilingual support is on its way.
Go through the tutorial yourself so you can help students during the Hour of Code.
Test tutorials on student computers or devices. Make sure they work properly (with sound and video).
Preview the congrats page to see what students will see when they finish.
If the tutorial you choose works best with sound, provide headphones for your class, or ask students to bring their own.
The UChicago OS4CS study is now finished, and they have now summarized across all the components. The main five challenges are:
1. There is no shared understanding of what Computer Science is.
2. More comprehensive, quality, instructional resources are needed.
3. Computer science is not prioritized in schools. (An issue that I considered when explaining the lack of CS Ed in the US.)
4. There is a need for more CS teachers.
5. CS teachers are isolated.
THE “BUILDING AN OPERATING SYSTEM FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE” (OS4CS) STUDY
was designed as a collaborative research and communication effort to establish a more comprehensive understanding of our nation’s current high school computer science (CS) teaching population, the support they have, and contexts in which they teach. The OS4CS study has five major components: (1) the Professional Development (PD) Landscape Study; (2) the Teacher Capacity Study; (3) Stories from the Field; (4) the CS in Schools Study; and (5) the Design Studio. While each component of the study can be examined independently, when considered together they complement each other, providing a broad view of the issues affecting CS education as viewed through the lenses of different stakeholders. The study includes perspectives from teachers, PD providers, school administrators, community leaders, and others.
I got to see some of this when I visited Indiana last year. It’s really interesting — young children (kindergarten) play at understanding systems by exploring how bees work.
The National Science Foundation has awarded over $999,000 to three Indiana University faculty members for a unique effort intended to shed light on how children best learn about complex systems and how new technologies can best serve that learning.
The NSF is granting the money to Kylie Peppler and Joshua Danish, both assistant professors in the Learning Sciences program at the IU School of Education, and Armin Moczek, associate professor in the Department of Biology in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. Specifically, the project will develop electronically enhanced puppets, or “e-puppets,” that allow students to simulate biological phenomena such as honeybees collecting nectar or ants scavenging for food. Work on “Design and Implementation (DIP) BioSim: Developing a Wearable Toolkit for Teaching Science Through Embodied Play” begins immediately.
This December, to celebrate Computer Science Education Week, we’re organizing a massive campaign to encourage 10 million students (and adults) to try an Hour of Code. This will be the largest initiative of its kind, ever.
Please help us recruit your local school, community organizations, or even your company to participate. Learn more.
What’s the Hour of Code?
It’s an introduction to computer science designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics. There will be a variety of hour-long tutorials everyone can do – on a web-browser, tablet, smartphone, or even with no computer at all.
How can you help?
- At your local school: Share this handout with your teacher or the principal.
- At your company: Share this handout with your manager, or the CEO.
- In your community: Use this handout to recruit a local group – boy scouts club, church, university, veterans group, or labor union. Or host an Hour of Code “block party” for your neighborhood.
Calling all students – regardless of age
Computer science is an important foundation for all students, for all careers. Too many people think programming is hard or requires math; the Hour of Code is designed to inspire.
Help your school win a computer lab
Code.org will gift 50 class-sets of laptops to 50 lucky schools, one in every state in the US. Ask your local school to plan an Hour of Code for every grade to qualify.
Let’s make history: Help bring 10,000,000 students to try an Hour of Code
Non-English language support
The Hour of Code materials will be available in several languages. If you want to help us as a volunteer translator, let us know.
Thank you for your support,
How young can we teach kids to code? Is it worth teaching really young kids to code? The argument below is missing the whole point of the difference between natural and artificial languages. Programming requires specification of details that do not occur in natural language (as seen in John Pane’s work, and related to the “Communicating with Aliens” problem). Why should our evolved language acquisition systems help with that?
The article linked below is pretty good as these things go, but they’re missing a lot of nuance in what it means “to code.”
- The article argues that students can start learning computer science “before they learn to read and write.” What does it mean to learn computer science then? Can we talk about manipulating symbol systems? About notation? If you pull out literacy, what are you teaching?
- The reports I’ve read about kids learning to program (like Roy Pea’s reports from decades ago, to Yasmin Kafai’s reports on students working in Scratch) suggest that young kids who “program” tend to build sequences of statements, with few conditionals or loops or defining named chunks of code (functions or procedures or whatevers). Is that what most of us think about when we’re suggesting “learn to code”?
- So, let’s say that you successfully teach some 5-6 year old to write some programs that we’d agree looks like “coding.” Do you really expect that to have an impact 20 years later when they reach working age (as is suggested as the potential value in the article below)? Especially if there’s almost no use of programming in formal education over the following 12 years?
I am not convinced that we can fruitfully teach five or six year olds to code — though it’s certainly worth exploring and experimenting with. I would not expect it to have much effect, though. If we had a school system that used code in interesting and powerful ways across the curriculum, then starting to teach kids to program at five or six as steps toward computational literacy would make lots of sense. But if only 12% of US high schools have computer science, and far fewer middle and elementary schools have it, and CS is still just this little class in the corner that doesn’t connect to anything else — then you can’t expect the coding that happens at that age to have much effect.
But that pessimism is at odds not only with the experiences of Gibson and other pioneering teachers but also with the science of language acquisition. Extensive research has shown that because young brains are so adept at picking up languages, it’s best to introduce children to foreign tongues as early as possible. This is why so many ambitious parents are now clamoring for kindergartens that offer intensive Mandarin—they want to give their kids the best possible shot at learning a key language of the Asian century.
What those parents likely don’t realize is that the same neural mechanisms that make kids sponges for Mandarin likely also make them highly receptive to computer languages. Kindergartners cannot become C++ ninjas, but they can certainly start to develop the skills that will eventually cement lifelong fluency in code.
Perhaps the saddest table I’ve ever read in my local paper. ”Mathematics II” is Sophomore year (10th grade, 15 years old) in high school mathematics. APS is Atlantic Public Schools. I live in Dekalb county. No wonder we can’t get more Black students into AP CS, if we can’t get past Sophomore year mathematics.
71 percent of the 2,500 black students in APS who took the Mathematics II exam in 2011, failed and only 1 percent, 25 students, passed with distinction (Pass Plus). By contrast, only 21 percent of white students failed with 79 percent passing and 23 percent of those passing with distinction.
The finalized form of the English national curriculum for CS was just released last week. Worth comparing to CS:Principles, ExploringCS, and the new CS2013 Computer Science curriculum recommendations.
These are the statutory programmes of study and attainment targets for computing at key stages 1 to 4. They should be taught in England from September 2014.
Articulate and interesting critique of the state of computing education. This article is describing the UK, but the situations described are actually better than in most of the US (e.g., that everyone gets some computing education, and that everyone gets some Scratch, is light years ahead of the US where 80% have nothing at all).
The particular point quoted below is about the importance of teaching students enough that they can take pride in the result, and that they can see a path to do more. I’m writing this while immersed in the Livecoding seminar at Dagstuhl, and I realize that this is a role for livecoding — showing students that they can make something real, immediately and quickly change it to make something new.
Again, we have the Windows Movie Maker problem. If a student cannot take pride in the work they produce, how can you expect them to take an interest in the subject?
From a student’s perspective, if it has taken four years to learn how to produce a program to add two numbers together, the gap to becoming a software developer creating useful applications looks enormous.
Exactly how much standardized testing are school districts subjecting students to these days? A nearly staggering amount, according to a new analysis.
“Testing More, Teaching Less: What America’s Obsession with Student Testing Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time,” released by the American Federation of Teachers, looks closely at two unnamed medium-sized school districts — one in the Midwest and one in the East — through the prism of their standardized testing calendars.
This article is worth blogging on for two reasons:
First, my colleagues in the UK were stunned when I told them that most tests that students take in US schools are locally invented. ”Doesn’t that lead to alot of wasted effort?” Perhaps so — this report seems to support my claim.
Second, I don’t find that much testing either staggering nor undesirable. Consider the results on the Testing Effect — students learn from testing. 20 hours in an academic year is not too much, if we think about testing as driving learning. We don’t know if these are good or useful tests, or if they are being used in a way that might motivate more learning, so 20 hours isn’t obviously a good thing. But it’s also not obviously a bad thing.
Consider the results of the paper presented by Michael Lee at ICER 2013 this year (and which won the “John Henry Award,” the people’s choice best paper award). They took a video game that required programming (Gidget) and added to it explicit assessments — quizzes that popped up at the end of each level, to ask you questions about what you did. They found that such assessments actually increased engagement and time-on-task. Their participants (both control and experimental) were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, so they were paid to complete more levels. Adding assessments led to more levels completed and less time per level — that’s pretty remarkable.
Maybe what we need is not fewer tests, but better and more engaging tests.
So, you do a survey of top coders, and find that many of them started coding between 8 and 11 years old. Does that imply that starting coding between 8 and 11 leads to being a top-coder? No, because you don’t know how many other kids started coding between 8 and 11 and got totally turned off to programming and are now gardeners. Yes, the data are consistent with the belief that coding early leads to top-coder status, but there’s not enough there to avoid fallacy.
The argument suggested by the post below is like the one that we’re trying to make about the role of early computing experience in influencing under-represented minorities. We found the vast majority of under-represented minorities in CS had early computing experience. But we also found that it was significantly more under-represented minorities had that experience than majority students in CS. That strengthens our case that the early computing experience is particularly important for under-represented minorities. What we haven’t shown yet is that there is a causal relationship. Is it the case that many under-represented minority students who got early computing experience did NOT go into CS classes? Until we know that, we can’t make any strong claims. (I think that the quote below is from the same Neil Fraser who went to Vietnam and came back with a lot of incorrect assumptions about high school CS in the US.)
The article linked below is about teaching kids to program before they learn to read, using ScratchJr. The article is interesting, and it raises a question well-worth exploring.
Early exposure to programming seems to have helped some of the world’s top coders. Earlier this year, Google engineer Neil Fraser in Mountain View, California, polled over 100 of his co-workers about when they first picked up coding, and then compared that with their performance on a simple test of skills. He found that those who wrote their first code between the ages of roughly 8 and 11 were most likely to develop advanced coding skills.
“We didn’t see an effect before 3rd grade, but certainly earlier is good,” Fraser says.
I recommend reading over the list linked below. What’s fascinating to me is how the experts are making their arguments.
Consider this comment: “Probably the Berkeley class is getting most traction.” That sounds like the recommendation is to try the Berkeley class because it’s polling well. The words “evaluation” and “data” don’t appear anywhere in the recommendations.
The experts are probably giving the superintendent good advice, in that they are arguing in terms that the superintendent (and presumably, his stakeholders and constituents). The issue about “getting traction” reminds me of the old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Buying the popular and well-respected thing is a reasonable thing to do when you don’t understand all the issues. These aren’t the arguments that education researcher would use in making the same recommendations, but that’s why you don’t have researchers running big city schools — what we do informs the decisions, but the actual decisions involve bigger and more complex decisions.
A big city superintendent called last week and asked for recommendations for K-12 resources for teaching coding and computer science so we reached out to some folks in the know. Here’s a summary of what we learned:
I wrote a blog post recently, where I suggested that we in computing need to be careful that TEALS doesn’t end up diminishing demand for high school CS teachers. Kevin Wang, who runs TEALS, contacted me after that post and we had a useful phone conversation.
Kevin sees TEALS as primarily a professional development activity. TEALS provides IT professionals to teach computer science courses and to be a teacher-asssistant in these courses. TEALS goes into a school only if the school signs a contract with TEALS that (a) there is a teacher assigned to teaching computer science in that school, who will undertake professional development during the time that the course is being taught and (b) that teacher will take over the course after the engagement with TEALS ends. The professional development is really just the student sitting in on the class with the students — no pedagogical development, no teaching methods, no community with other teachers. For most schools, it’s a many-volunteer to one-school ratio — a couple of teachers, and some teaching assistants. TEALS is now experimenting with volunteers who provide the teaching via video at distance.
They don’t have a lot of data yet. TEALS doesn’t know yet how well the teachers learn, sitting in on the class alongside the students. They don’t know how yet how well the teachers like doing professional development like this — I wonder if teachers find it demeaning to their professionalism, to sit taking the class alongside the students, rather than in groups of their peers. TEALS doesn’t know yet much about how well the schools succeed teaching computer science after the professionals leave. They don’t know if students are learning overall (they have great results in some classes), or about how the students are doing with IT professionals who have little preparation for teaching, or if the TEALS classes are better or worse than others at engaging women and under-represented minorities.
The quote below is from a blog post that I highly recommend reading. It’s by one of the TEALS volunteers and his experience in teaching AP CS. The author, Dan Kasun, was a teaching assistant to an existing AP CS teacher. I don’t know how common that model is.
TEALS sounds like it’s trying to make computer science succeed for the long haul. Computing education reform can’t be about the students — or rather, it can’t be about the students here and now. It has to be about the long term. Yes, by providing a set of IT professionals to a school, one can help a class of 35 students to do remarkably well in AP CS. But if you develop a full-time CS teacher to be in multiple classes, and to improve over years, and to stay in that school for a decade or more (or even the five years that only half of STEM teachers last), you get to far more than 30 kids.
I want computer science to be in schools, long after TEALS runs out of volunteers. I believe that Kevin Wang wants that, too. I don’t know if TEALS is helping yet, but am interested to see what we learn from it.
I had the opportunity to support one of the local Loudoun County High Schools this year by volunteering to assist in AP Computer Science as part of the TEALS program (www.tealsk12.org). TEALS provides volunteers who can teach an entire computer science class for schools that do not have access to trained educators, and also provides teacher assistants (TAs) for schools that already have teachers, but would like additional support in their programs. Loudoun already had teachers, so I volunteered as a TA (which was fortunate, as my schedule wouldn’t have supported the responsibility of the full class).
This is pretty high visibility. (Here’s the link if the embed below doesn’t work: http://www.today.com/id/26184891/vp/52630136#52630136.)