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C'est la Z

Teaching CS - all the educators to all the grades

I'm kicking off a couple of exciting summer projects next week and it's been pointed out to me a couple of times that I'll be working with educators at every level to help them to deliver CS instruction to students at every level. What an opportunity to be a part of and learn from - working with every level of teacher for every level of student. I'm part of the teaching teams but I think I'm also going to learn a lot.

So, how is this happening?

One project I'm working on, entering its second year is a project on computational thinking in the early grades. Aman Yadav and I, with the support of the Robin Hood Foundation will be working with primary grade teachers to develop experience that both teach computational thinking and use CT to support the core subject areas. As we had last time, we'll have both working teachers and pre-service teachers - that is, Hunter students close to earning their teaching degrees and certifications. In the Fall, the pre-service teachers will student teach under the supervision of the working teachers in our program.

Based on what we did last year I'm convinced that this years cohort will get a lot out of the experience but I'm also convinced that the workshop still faces the limitations of any professional development style training - short duration, one shot, and no long term support. PD can be valuable but I'm 100% convinced it's not the answer in terms of preparing CS teachers. At the end of the workshop, our teachers will have learned something about CT, be more comfortable with it, and have designed some lessons that they'll deliver in the Fall. It's a start but it's not the end.

The game changer brings me to the other group of people participating - four full time Hunter Faculty members. They all teach in our School of Education. The aim is to see where we can add CT to our pre-service classes. This moves the needle. If we do it right, soon enough, every Hunter College primary grade teaching candidate will be learning about Computational Thinking in their required Ed classes. That's how you do it - get it into pre-service.

So, that has me working with pre-service and in-service teachers as well as full time research faculty. That's a lot of levels of educators but it's not all the grades.

That's the other project we're kicking off on Monday and one that I plan to write a lot about over the next month and into next year.

We're finally kicking off our Computer Science Teacher certification program. We've got a cohort of a little over 20 teachers that will take part in a month long intensive followed by more coursework in the Fall. When they're done, they'll be among the first certified computer science teachers in New York State. The cohort consists mostly of High School teachers but we've got some middle school in there as well.

This too is a game changer. We're not giving a curriculum to follow or scripts to copy but rather we're teaching serious CS and how to teach it. Of course it doesn't hurt that the cohort is comprised of strong, experienced teachers.

So there it is - all the levels of teachers to all the levels of students. I'm super excited to be part of both of these game changing projects and can't wait for Monday when we get to work.

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