Saturday, August 24, 2019

Chronicling a Year of Computer Science - Part One: The Beginning


By: Amy Fettig

If I looked back even a year ago, I would not have envisioned myself preparing to teach Computer Science this school year. Today, I could not be more excited to begin this professional journey. As a library media specialist, instructional technologies were a large part of my M.S. degree in Information Media. I knew a modicum of web development and I was constantly scouring the plethora of #edtech startups in Minnesota and beyond for new ideas that looked to transform instruction, collaboration, and learning.

Over the past few years I was motivated by the many innovative educators in the ITEM network who were integrating coding, and physical computing opportunities like Raspberry Pi’s, into their into their programming and makerspaces. I researched 3D printing in Minnesota schools and compiled an introductory write-up in 2015 (that is likely already outdated by the rapid pace of change in that industry). But somehow, CS seemed too complicated, albeit fun to explore, but too massive a skill set to independently build a curriculum around.

Working at a small public charter school, most of the elective courses I taught have been created from the ground up using free and open source resources and the guidance of the world wide web of educators who freely share their expertise online. Thankfully, broader initiatives to encourage more student engagement with CS and to ensure all students see themselves in the field have led to a veritable deluge of resources and support to learn and teach CS.

For this coming year, the groundwork for both the Intro to CS and AP Computer Science Principles courses I am facilitating is provided by the Amazon Future Engineers program in a curriculum and platform developed by Edhesive. I am also fortunate enough to join the Coding in the Classroom Leadership cohort of MNCodes and CodeSavvy. More than access to an online forum, this collaboration with colleagues on the forefront of CS education in Minnesota is both inspiring and instrumental in my own professional development.

Over the next several months, I hope to share what I am learning about CS, specifically how computational thinking integrates across content areas, what resources have helped me and my students along the way, and the role of CS in the future of education.

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