Logic and deduction, algorithms, deconstructing problems into manageable pieces... these are integral parts of computer science, and Jeffco students are ready to investigate.
Ideas, images, and information can be translated into bits of data and processed by computers to create apps, animations, or autonomous cars. The variety of instructions that a computer can follow makes it an engine of innovation that is limited only by our imagination. Remarkably, computers can even follow instructions about instructions in the form of programming languages. More than just a tool, computers are a readily accessible medium for creative and personal expression. In our digital age, computers are both the paint and the paintbrush. Computer science education creates the artists.
--From "Defining Computer Science"-- The K-12 Computer Science Framework
How Are Jeffco Elementaries laying a Foundation for Computer Science?
Many schools have started with participating in Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a world wide effort to provide an introduction to computer science to show that anyone can learn the basics. Held during Computer Science Education Week in December, this year's Hour of Code theme was "What will you create?" and featured a Dance Party. Schools from all over Jeffco participated in the event. At Ryan Elementary, Digital Teacher Librarian, Kelsey Shearer, co-taught with her AMP team to integrate the event into movement and music.
"My favorite part of this year's Hour of Code was to see how excited kids were to share what they had created as an end product. After kids created their final dance party, they shared the public link with their teachers, friends, and parents. For me, this demonstrated a shift from "learning to code" to "coding to learn." As I started thinking about it, I realized that our fifth graders were the first class to try Hour of Code as kinders six years ago. It is now a part of our culture here at Ryan, and we are looking forward to elevating the idea of integrating computer science as a language across our curriculum. " -- Kelsey Shearer
Some schools have extended this event to a Day of Code. Digital Teacher Librarian, Michelle McHugh, partnered with Amazon to facilitate the event at Three Creeks K-8. Students received an introduction to coding from Amazon's software engineers while hearing about their journey to gaining employment at Amazon. With her excitement from the day Michelle stated that "Computer science enables students to develop skills and competencies in problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration that will help them excel in today's increasingly digital world."
Ann Rames, DTL at Coronado, has taken the next step by holding an after school coding club. Over 50 K-5 students are going through the design process using Makey Makey and Cubelets, completing challenges with Dash and Dot, and even designing their own video games with Bloxels. She frequently checks out robotic kits* from the Ed Tech Team but also uses coding games and puzzles as unplugged activities. Ann partners with her community having a parent volunteer from Lockheed Martin assist with her club.
*Check out the Coding and Robotics website for information about checking out robotic kits.
Hutchinson Elementary is getting parents involved! They held a Family Coding night in December. According to Gallup, 90% of parents want their child to study computer science.
Learning to Code, Coding TO Learn
Many schools are embedding coding and robotics into their instruction. Through a grant from CDE and a partnership with mindSpark Learning, Jeffco is offering 2-day workshops to build a foundation for computer science in elementary schools. On Day 1, participants dive into the Code.Org Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum. Teachers come back on Day 2 to apply their knowledge with hands-on applications of coding with robots. Lessons are designed cross-curricular and incorporate collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Teachers are seeing immediate connections with Sphero and Dash particularly with their math units. Time is also spent on building a computer science implementation plan for your school. Not only do participants learn about basic computer science concepts, but they learn about using coding and robotics to demonstrate learning in any subject area.
Over 50 elementary schools have participated in the learning so far!
Although, computer science can be tied to every leaf on the Jeffco Generations tree, Critical & Creative Thinking, Self-Directed Learning, and Agility & Adaptability are at the forefront of the student experience. Using robotics provides hands-on and creative opportunities for learners to invent, solve problems, and create. Computer science can be taught in a multi-disciplinary way, with a hands-on approach which happens to be engaging and fun, while preparing students for their future.
Check out the Leadership Memo for announcements about upcoming professional learning opportunities. Questions? Contact Marnie.Roush@jeffco.k12.co.us, Computer Science Specialist, 303-982-6292