Today kicks off the annual celebration of Computer Science known as Computer Science Education Week. In honor of the week, I made cupcakes (in binary of course).
Tomorrow, we’re hosting an Hour of Code event. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll be having a guest speaker Skype in to my CS classes. Also on Thursday, I’ll be running a faculty workshop on coding, with a special surprise for them. So there’s a lot going on!!
What are you doing to honor the week?
There’s nothing like CS Ed Week and a snow day to snap you out of a funk. I still have all those issues I mentioned in my last post, but they’re dissipating a bit, and I will have a chance to get back on track after winter break. So here’s what happened this week so far.
My students were the show for our assembly on Monday. My CS I students described their projects and what CS I was about. Then, I showed a video of the Rube Goldberg machine my Physical Computing students did. It faded into the Code.org video that talks about Computer Science and careers, etc. Here’s the Rube Goldberg video:
And here’s the code.org video, if you’re interested:
On Tuesday, I had planned a community event around learning to code, but we ended up with a snow day, so the event was cancelled and rescheduled for next week. Should be fun!
Wednesday, mostly a normal day, but I did let my 6th graders play with the tutorials on code.org.
Today, I ran a learn to code session for faculty. I helped them make an animated greeting card. I had about 10 or so faculty attend. I also had robotics this afternoon. When I left, there was one student still working. I have another whole post about robotics, but I’ll save it for later.
Tomorrow is mostly open. I have one class and I have to teach a robot to sing. We’ll see how that goes. So it’s all CS, all the time here.
Yesterday I kicked off CS Ed Week by bringing in two hip Computer Science-y women to talk to our high school students. Kimberly Blessing and Lindsay Lindstrom joined us to talk about why they like Computer Science and what they do. They also showed off some resources for students who are interested in learning about CS, but who may not have the time to fit it into their schedule. They pointed out Web Start Women and TechGirlz, just two of the many organizations out there hosting classes in the evenings and on the weekends to give women and girls the opportunity to learn programming or other IT skills in a friendly environment.
Today, my Upper School students visited a 1st grade science class to show off their projects. They showed how their robots took pictures, went through mazes, and played tag. They really seemed to like it. Tomorrow, they’ll take the same show to the Middle School assembly.
It’s a real challenge to get girls interested in CS. We have a lot of smart girls in our school, and a lot are interested in entering fields related to science and math, but CS is not on their radar. These kinds of things keep it on their radar. I also am trying to put CS in their sights early. Today I had my first session on computing with 1st and 2nd graders. Eventually we’ll build robots. And then maybe they’ll join the robotics club in middle school and then take CS in high school. I hope that by keeping it on the radar throughout their years here, we’ll draw in a few more. And I don’t necessarily want to create a ton of new programmers, but I do want everyone to know a little something about programming. I’m encouraged so far, but this is a long-term investment that will take a while to bear fruit.
Almost a month since my last post–whoa! Over the last few days, I considered closing up shop. I barely have time to read blogs anymore much less write in one. But, like Janet, I do find writing here when I can useful. I have a ton of things to reflect on and talk about. Here are just some bullets of stuff going on in my life right now:
- Running two robotics clubs, one of which meets every day after school–lots to say about what I do/don’t like about these two very different clubs
- Rethinking one of my courses, which is requiring new prep
- Promoting computer science, which is well-supported by the administrators and my colleagues here, though not always understood. I’m still fighting the perception that CS = learning Word and Excel or that CS is unneccessary because either a) these kids all know how to use their computers and so don’t need CS or b) all the jobs in CS are being outsourced. a) drives me more crazy than b).
- Struggling to find time to learn new skills.
- Getting frustrated by the CS education blogs I’ve been reading that make some odd assumptions about how K-12 works.
- Loving, loving my job. My colleagues are just awesome. The students are great, and despite working really, really hard–and a lot!–I love coming to work every day. I’m still getting used to the fact that people support my work and me. I’m used to something very different. I’m loving feeling like I’m in the right place.