Posts tagged ‘teachers’

Where Have All The Teachers Gone? It’s not just CS!

My first thought when seeing this article was, “Well, I’m glad it’s not just CS.”  (See my post about how recruiting teachers is our biggest challenge in CS10K.) And my second thought was, “WHERE are we going to get all the teachers we need, across subjects?!?”  And how are we going to retain them?

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation’s largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It’s down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

“The erosion is steady. That’s a steady downward line on a graph. And there’s no sign that it’s being turned around,” says Bill McDiarmid, the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education.

Why have the numbers fallen so far, so fast?

McDiarmid points to the strengthening U.S. economy and the erosion of teaching’s image as a stable career. There’s a growing sense, he says, that K-12 teachers simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment.

via Where Have All The Teachers Gone? : NPR Ed : NPR.

April 13, 2015 at 8:24 am 17 comments

Launching our Teacher Ebook for learning Python and CS Principles

Back in September 2011, I announced that we received NSF funding to try to “beat the book.” (See post here.) Could we create an electronic (Web-based) book that was better for CS teacher learning than reading a physical book? Took us three years, but I’m confident that the answer is now, “Yes.”

Our ebook is hosted by Brad Miller’s Runestone tools and site.  We use worked examples (as mentioned here) interleaved with practice, as Trafton and Reiser recommend.  We have coding in the book as well as Philip Guo’s visualizations.  There are audio tours to provide multi-modality code explanations (see modality effect), and Parson’s problems to provide low cognitive load practice (see mention here). We support book clubs that set their own schedule, in order to create social pressure to complete, but at a scale that makes sense for teachers.

2011 was a long time ago.  That original post didn’t even mention MOOCs.  We ran two studies in the Fall, one on learning with novices and one on usability (which involved several of you — thank you for responding to my call for participants!). I’m not going to say anything about those results here, pending review and publication. We have updated the book based on the results of those studies.  I don’t know if we beat the MOOC.  We’re running at about a 50% completion rate, but we’ll only really know when we go to scale.

I am pleased to announce the book is ready for release!

Please send this url to any teacher you think might want to learn about teaching CS (especially for the AP CS Principles — see learning objectives here) in Python: http://ebooks.cc.gatech.edu/TeachCSP-Python/  Thanks!

Our next steps are to develop a student ebook.  By Fall, we hope to have a teacher and a student CSP ebook, which may make for an additional incentive for teachers to complete.

April 1, 2015 at 7:49 am 14 comments

Helping states collect data about computing education for landscape reports

Back at the NCWIT meeting last May, we in ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance) started promoting a four step process for starting to improve computing education in your state (see blog post here):

  1. Find a Leader(s)
  2. Figure out where you are and how you change
  3. Gather your allies
  4. Get initial funding.

Part of Step 2 includes writing a Landscape Report.  Does your state count CS towards high school graduation? As what?  Who decides?  Who can teach CS? Is there a CS curriculum? Do you have a Pathway? Do you have a certificate or endorsement to teach CS in your state? There are several of these available at the CSTA website, such as one from South Carolina and another on Maryland.

ECEP now has a page with resources for gathering data for a landscape report — see below.

Where is your state now? The resources linked below can help you quickly find state-level data about the status of computer science education in your state. These are good starting points for putting together a landscape report that answers common questions on CS education in your state.

via State-level Data for CS Education Advocacy | Expanding Computing Education Pathways.

March 11, 2015 at 8:02 am Leave a comment

WiPSCE 2015 Call for Papers and Participation

Barb and I went to this last year, and it was terrific — diverse and high-quality.

Call for Papers and Participation:

WiPSCE 2015

We invite you to submit a paper, report, or poster for the 10th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE 2015) and join us inLondon, United Kingdom, on November 9-11, 2015. WiPSCE aims at improving the exchange of research and practice relevant to teaching and learning in primary and secondary computing education, teacher training, and related research.

Important 2015 Dates

Submission deadline: Monday, June 1

Re-submission deadline: Monday, June 8

Notification of acceptance: Monday, July 27

Submission of revised manuscripts: Monday, September 15

Early Registration deadline: Monday, October 19

Original submissions in all areas related to primary and secondary computing education are invited in the following categories:

  • Full paper (610 pages): expected to meet one of two categories – empirical research papers and philosophical research papers
  • Work in progress (3-4 pages): unpublished original research in progress
  • Practical report (4-6 pages): unpublished, original projects in the field of “primary and secondary computing education”
  • Posters (2 page abstract)

Topics include:

  • Learning: attitudes, beliefs, motivation, misconceptions, learning difficulties, student engagement with educational technology (e.g., visualization), conceptualization of computing
  • Teaching: teaching approaches, teaching methods, teaching with educational technology
  • Content: curricular aspects, learning standards, tools, educational approaches, context relevant teaching, assessment
  • Institutional aspects: establishing and enhancing computing education, professional development

Special Theme:Computing? How young is too young?
For more information, please contact:

Judith Gal-Ezer: galezer@cs.openu.ac.il

Sue Sentence: sue.sentance@kcl.ac.uk

Jan Vahrenhold: jan.vahrenhold@uni-muenster.de

March 9, 2015 at 7:44 am 1 comment

UToronto TA’s and graduate student instructors on strike: Pay and teaching are inversely correlated in Universities today

The graduate student Teaching Assistants and Instructors at the University of Toronto are on strike.  I wouldn’t normally be aware about graduate student labor disputes in other countries, but UToronto has an active CS Education research group and at least one (very) active CS Ed PhD student, Elizabeth Patitsas who was in the ICER Doctoral Consortium last year.  The website on the strike (see link below and here) is interesting in describing the situation for Canadian PhD students, both what’s different than in the US (Toronto PhD students pay tuition — it isn’t waived for them) and what’s similar.  I’ll bet that the fact 3.5% of the university budget pays for 65% of the teaching is just as true in the US.  The Chronicle had an article recently titled Teach or Perish (see link here) with this claim (that I’m quite certain is true where I’m at, success is measured in terms of salary): “While teaching undergraduates is, normally, a large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.”

Graduate students in PhD programs continue to pay full tuition – almost $8,000 – even when they are not enrolled in courses. In return, graduate students receive the ‘privilege’ of underpaid work for the University, a library card, and meetings with supervisors. All comparable universities in North America offer post-residency fees or tuition wavers for graduate students finished with course work. The university rejected our proposals for similar provisions.

CUPE 3902 membership has been without a permanent contract for more than eight months, despite carrying out more than 65% of the teaching across the three campuses at the University of Toronto.

The university allocates a mere 3.5% of its $1.9 billion budget to CUPE 3902 workers, the vast majority of which comes from tuition and taxes.

via We Are UofT.

March 6, 2015 at 8:30 am 1 comment

More diversity and more progress with CS teachers vs just on-line: Code.org

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.

February 25, 2015 at 8:03 am 5 comments

The Individual Teacher versus the Educational System: What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools?

I highly recommend the article below, for the perspective above all.  The issue of “If we fix teachers, do we fix the American educational system” is discussed below and in a recent Freakonomics podcast (see link here).  The Freakonomics team comes to the same conclusion as below — no, the home life is a far bigger factor than any particular teacher.

But I’m more struck by the focus on the education system more than the individual teacher in the below essay.  If your focus is on the education system, then the goal shouldn’t be to identify and get rid of the “bad” teachers.  In the end, that’s just one teacher in a whole system.  You’re better off improving the system, by making the teachers as good as possible (e.g., with high-quality professional development, and lots of it).  Develop your teachers, and the system improves itself.

The comments about Teach for America are relevant to the TEALS program, too.  If we value teaching as a profession and want highly-skilled, prepared, and experienced teachers, then you don’t take newbies and make them teachers.  Make them assistants, or make them para-professionals.  Take a legitimate peripheral participation approach and let them help on the edges.  But keep the teacher front-and-center, valuing her or him for the experience and development that she or he brings to the classroom — don’t try to replace the teacher with someone who doesn’t have that experience and preparation.

When I told Barbara Ericson about these comments, she countered that I’m assuming that (with respect to computer science) schools have these well-prepared and experienced teachers.  She says that she’s seen whole districts without a single teacher with preparation as a CS teacher — but they’re teaching CS.  She argues that in most schools, a TEALS professional could not be just an assistant or para-professional, because the teacher can’t adequately support the course on his or her own.

In recent years the “no excuses”’ argument has been particularly persistent in the education debate. There are those who argue that poverty is only an excuse not to insist that all schools should reach higher standards. Solution: better teachers. Then there are those who claim that schools and teachers alone cannot overcome the negative impact that poverty causes in many children’s learning in school. Solution: Elevate children out of poverty by other public policies.

For me the latter is right. In the United States today, 23 percent of children live in poor homes. In Finland, the same way to calculate child poverty would show that figure to be almost five times smaller. The United States ranked in the bottom four in the recent United Nations review on child well-being.  Among 29 wealthy countries, the United States landed second from the last in child poverty and held a similarly poor position in “child life satisfaction.” Teachers alone, regardless of how effective they are, will not be able to overcome the challenges that poor children bring with them to schools everyday.

via What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools? – The Washington Post.

February 20, 2015 at 7:59 am 4 comments

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