Posts tagged ‘K12’
Hadi Partovi of Code.org has a blog post (see here) with data from their on-line classes. He’s making the argument that classroom teachers are super important for diversity and for student success.
Learning #1: Classrooms progress farther than students studying alone
In the graph below, the X axis is student age, the Y axis is their average progress in our courses. The blue line is students in classrooms with teachers. The red line is students studying without a classroom/teacher.
Learning #3: The ethnic backgrounds of students with teachers are impressively diverse
The data below doesn’t come from all students, because (for privacy reasons) we do not allow students to tell us their ethnic background. This chart was collected via an opt-in survey of teachers in the U.S. offering our courses, and as such is susceptible to inaccuracy. The picture it paints helps confirm our thesis that by integrating computer science into younger-aged classrooms in public schools, we can increase the diversity of students learning computer science.
I wrote a while back about Chris Stephenson moving to Google. It’s time to find a new executive director for CSTA!
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announces its search for an Executive Director. The Executive Director must be deeply committed to CSTA’s core mission, which is to empower, support and advocate for K-12 computer science teachers worldwide. The Executive Director reports to and works collaboratively with the Board of Directors to set strategic direction, develop goals, attain/manage resources, and establish policies for the organization.
The Executive Director is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives and ensures ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, communications, and organizational systems.
This is a full-time position. The Executive Director manages a staff including an Assistant Director and four part-time administrators (meeting planner, web developer, project coordinator, and newsletter editor), and conducts their work from a virtual office. Considerable travel is required.
For position specifications, including key responsibilities, qualifications, and procedures for candidacy, please visit http://summitsearchsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CSTA-ExecutiveDirector-Spec.pdf.
I’ve always been a Logo fan. After WIPSCE and my thoughts about the value of resurrecting Logo (see the post), I decided to download some modern Logo implementations and do the classic square.
to square :size repeat 4 [fd :size rt 90] end
The basic square works perfectly fine in Brian Harvey’s Berkeley Logo (see here) — it’s a straightforward implementation from the past. That means that you’re missing more modern and more platform-dependent features (e.g., no sound at all, no networking primitives, etc.).
Next, I tried StarLogo. Took me awhile to figure it out — I had to put the pen down (PD) because it wasn’t by default, and then I had a hard time getting the procedures to work, so I just typed in the code directly. I think I drew a square, but I think I was actually controlling thousands of turtles, because the effect was not at all what I expected.
I then tried NetLogo, which changes turtles from the old days. When you start out, you have no turtles at all. You have to create a turtle, and then you can ask the turtles to do something. I did it, but I didn’t get a square. Or maybe it’s a square but just wrapped around a lot?
The point is that modern Logo implementations were developed for different purposes than older Logo implementations. StarLogo and NetLogo are modeling platforms that support thousands of turtles. That makes it confusing for an oldster like me who wants to do the old things. If we want to be able to use the old curriculum, we’ll have to make some new Logo implementations that work like the old ones but provide the kinds of facilities that we’d want to play with today. Shouldn’t Logo know about the Web? I’d like to be able to manipulate pixels in a picture and samples in a sound — probably no surprise.
Both sides in this debate make good points. Of course, I’m on Pat Yongpradit’s side — computing education is very important and should be in all schools. But I totally see his opponent’s position (and I’ve made similar arguments myself about why the US is not ready for mandatory CS education): it’s expensive, teachers are not well-prepared, and it’s not obvious (to schools or teachers) how computer science helps with the primary goals of literacy and numeracy.
I’m not saying that elementary students are not capable of using or even mastering code. But I believe that really teaching — not just introducing — coding is simply beyond the scope of what most K-5 schools and their students are able to do, and it’s even asking a lot of middle schools when both lab time and class time are so limited. What’s more, pushing students into the study of abstract concepts before they are developmentally ready will not make them any more prepared for the rest of the 21st century than they are now.
Barbara and I are attending the WIPSCE 2014 conference, the 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education in Berlin. See the program here and the proceedings here. I was impressed as a reviewer this year — the quality of papers at WIPSCE is exceptionally high. There is worldwide interest in improving K-12 computing education, and reports are flowing into WIPSCE on research findings and lessons-learned from all over the world.
Barbara is presenting a short paper on Friday (with co-authors Tom McKlin and me) on “Preparing Secondary Computer Science Teachers Through an Iterative Development Process.” She’s going to tell how her professional development effort at Georgia Tech developed, using feedback from Tom’s evaluation efforts. She’ll offer some of her lessons learned, such as using teachers themselves as providers where ever possible, to establish leaders in the community of teachers and to make the PD more sustainable.
I am honored to be the keynote speaker on Thursday morning. My talk is on “Preparing Teachers is Different than Preparing Software Developers.” I’m going to talk about what teachers need to know and do that’s different from software developers, with a particular emphasis on pedagogical-content knowledge, on reading code more than writing code, and about writing code to learn rather than to produce software. I’m still working on my talk. The audience is going to be primary and secondary school CS teachers AND researchers and providers of teacher professional learning opportunities. So, how much do I tell teachers things that they might find useful in the classroom, and how much do I tell results from research or give suggestions on how to facilitate teacher learning? I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’ve seen Michael Lee present two papers on Gidget at ICER, and they were both fascinating. Gidget is now moving out of the laboratory, and I’m eager to see what happens when lots of people get a chance to play with it. Andy Ko has a blog post about Gidget that explains some of the goals.
Hello Gidget Supporter!
We are happy to announce that Gidget has launched today! You, your friends, and your family members can now help Gidget debug faulty code to solve puzzles at helpgidget.org
Gidget is a game designed to teach computer programming concepts through debugging puzzles. Gidget the robot was damaged on its way to clean up a chemical spill and save the animals, so it is the players’ job to fix Gidget’s problematic code to complete all the missions. As the levels become more challenging, players can combine newly introduced concepts with previously used commands to solve the puzzles and progress through the game.
Gidget is the dissertation work of Michael J. Lee who is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s Information School. Prior to its public release, over 800 online participants played through various versions of the game, and over 60 teenagers played through the game and created their own levels during four summer camps in 2013 and 2014. Our research has shown that novice programmers of all ages become very engaged with the activity, and that they are able to create their own levels (i.e., create their own programs from scratch) successfully after playing through the game.
Please share widely and refer to the press release for more information. We hope you have fun playing the game, and appreciate your interest and support for Gidget.
Michael J. Lee and the rest of the Gidget Team
Michael J. Lee
PhD Candidate, Information School
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-2840
I wrote a blog post recently about Joanna Goode promoting the goal of “CS for Each.” Several commenters asked for more details. I asked Joanna, and she wrote me this lovely, detailed explanation. I share it here with her permission — thanks, Joanna!
To answer, we as CS educators want to purposefully design learning activities that build off of students’ local knowledge to teach particular computer science concepts or practices. Allowing for students to integrate their own cultural knowledge and social interests into their academic computational artifacts deepens learning and allows for students to develop personal relationships with computing. More specifically, computer science courses lend themselves well for project-based learning, a more open-ended performance assessment that encourages student discretion in the design and implementation of a specified culminating project. Allowing students to use a graphical programming environment to create a Public Service Announcement of a topic of their choice, for example, is more engaging for most youth than a one-size-fits-all generic programming assignment with one “correct” answer.
Along with my colleagues Jane Margolis and Jean Ryoo, we recently wrote a piece for Educational Leadership (to be published later this year) that uses ExploringCS (ECS) to show how learning activities can be designed to draw on students’ local knowledge, cultural identity, and social interests. Here is an excerpt:
The ECS curriculum is rooted in research on science learning that shows that for traditionally underrepresented students, engagement and learning is deepened when the practices of the field are recreated in locally meaningful ways that blend youth social worlds with the world of science[.1] Consider these ECS activities that draw on students’ local and cultural knowledge:
- In the first unit on Human-Computer Interaction, as students learn about internet searching, they conduct “scavenger hunts” for data about the demographics, income level, cultural assets, people, and educational opportunities in their communities.
- In the Problem-Solving unit, students work with Culturally-Situated Design Tools , a software program that “help students learn [math and computing] principles as they simulate the original artifacts, and develop their own creations.” In one of the designs on cornrow braids students learn about the history of this braiding tradition from Africa through the Middle Passage, the Civil Rights movement to contemporary popular culture, and how the making of the cornrows is based on transformational geometry.
- In the Web Design unit, students learn how to use html and css so they can create websites about any topic of their choosing, such as an ethical dilemma, their family tree, future career, or worldwide/community problems.
- In the Introduction to Programming unit, students design a computer program to create a game or an animated story about an issue of concern.
- In the Data Analysis and Computing unit, students collect and combine data about their own snacking behavior and learn how to analyze the data and compare it to large data sources.
- In the Robotics unit, students creatively program their robots to work through mazes or dance to students’ favorite songs.
Each ECS unit concludes with a culminating project that connects students’ social worlds to computer science concepts. For example, in unit two they connect their knowledge of problem solving, data collection and minimal spanning trees to create the shortest and least expensive route for showing tourists their favorite places in their neighborhoods.
 Barton, A.C. and Tan, E. 2010. We be burnin’! Agency, identity, and science learning. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19, 2, 187-229.
 Eglash, Ron. Culturally Situated Design Tools. See: See: csdt.rpi.edu