Our teacher professional development (PD) began in early October of 2014.
We have the participation of five middle school teachers—three from Medford and two from Everett.
Presently, we’ve finished the principal teacher PD, which consisted of 11 workshops that happened pretty much weekly. The PD consisted of these main elements:
- Project Background
- Orientation to Computing
- Computational Thinking Skills Building
- Curriculum Development
- Logistics Assistance
Project Background. We got the teachers up to speed of the general situation regarding Computing in Education in the United States and how this project aims to promote a computing experience amongst Middle Schoolers in Medford and Everett. We also pointed out how this project aims to study of our work’s effects on CS education pipeline later as these student progress into High School.
Orientation to Computing and Computational Thinking Skills Building. Teachers were introduced to hands-on programming work and readings that discussed various approaches that aim to alleviate the known obstacles to building computing skills and confidence. The hands-on approach got teachers quickly learning practical skills, and within weeks all were able to build their own apps for their Android tablets!
Curriculum Development. Interwoven into our Computing Skills Building training was discussion about how these learned skills and knowledge would be implemented in their own class rooms. By Session 6, we were fully on to the topic of Curriculum Development and teachers were asked to focus on plans to integrate their own class objectives with a selected few of the CSTA Learning Standards.
These 3 were:
- Computational Thinking—Use the basic steps in algorithmic problem solving to design solution
- Computational Practice—Identify interdisciplinary careers that are enhanced by computer science
- Collaboration—Exhibit dispositions necessary for collaboration: providing useful feedback, integrating feedback, understanding and accepting multiple perspectives, socialization
At the end of this process, teachers had written their curriculum goals and created lesson plans; we’ll share a sample in a subsequent post.
Logistics Assistance: This support thus far has been provided mostly by Teacher Mentor Akira Kamiya and undergraduate assistant Kim Douglas. To date, desktop computers with appropriate drivers and set up the tablets to be ready for student use. This included installing a Demo App made by one of the teachers during our PD. We also set up Google Drive to allow direct access to teacher shared files. This entailed thinking through out Google’s complex cross device sharing which was cause for some concern regarding privacy. We feel now that this has been sufficiently worked out.
This work is ongoing and includes technical assistance Updates will be forthcoming!