Reading various posts this morning, I came upon Mark Guizdial’s Top 10 Myths about Teaching Computer Science. It’s a good read, especially for its overview of the state of the dialogue and the research around learning computer science. There really is a huge gender disparity in computer science and the problem is not just getting more curriculum out there.
The myths are straw men in the sense that I think many of the teachers I know who are trying to teach CS don’t subscribe to them. And Guzdial doesn’t spend time documenting where these myths come from. But the list can be the basis for some good discussions at CTRL-Shift meetings. I’m particularly interested in hearing the group’s thoughts on the items about Active Learning, which is a documented successful strategy, but “learning styles” is a persistent myth.
Here’s the link: Digital Navigator
I met Michael Luetjen at ISTE, and he’s posted this thought-provoking commentary on failing at the TCIPG Education workshop led by my colleague, Jana Sebestik. He asks, “So when was the last time you failed? When was the last time that you were cheered on at every stage of your failure?” His Laws of Failure are lines of a poem in the form of Newton. They are stories of motivation and pride in accomplishment. The learning process wasn’t neat, but it was fun, informative, and inspirational. So…, yay for us! Jana created a space were learning happened.
I’m reminded of Jo Boaler, who says, “celebrate mistakes.” Of course, this is dangerous territory; ripe for misinterpretation. We need to be clear that environments dedicated to learning are special places, the outcomes should not be high-stakes for the learner. In environments that require expertise, e.g., installing new brake pads on a car, we want performance to be error free. But if it’s a classroom, where one is learning about brakes for the first time, and in the presence of a trained mechanic, a failure in that safe space is a learning opportunity. His final quote is the best. “I failed at ISTE this year and it was fantastic!”
Thirty teachers were involved in the two-day workshop at Bradley University called, Summer to Make, Play, and Connect. The presenters included CTRL-Shift members Todd Lash, George Reese, Jeff Ginger, and Martin Wolske. I continue to be amazed at how willing teachers are to take risks and have fun together when it comes to activities that they know will be exciting for their students. -George
Kenwood librarian Miriam Larson has discussed the specifics of Tech Time at Kenwood on her blog, Seeing Little Moments. She calls it, Collaboration and De-Centering Technology. Miriam shares the background of Tech Time, her work with Todd Lash and Travis Faust, the goals of Tech Time, the desire to be transparent, creative, and responsive. CTRL-Shift is really a collection of different efforts, and Miriam’s history is a great contribution to our work.
On June 8th, a small group of individuals representing educators from Champaign Unit 4 Schools and the University of Illinois met to discuss computational thinking and computer science at the middle school level. In the morning, Ms. Jessica Pitcher shared what work is currently being done in the areas of CT/CS at Kenwood Elementary School. She discussed the transformation the school has undergone during its adoption of CT as a structural model for curriculum implementation, as well as the struggles and celebrations that have occurred along the way. Ms. Pitcher also shared some interactive “unplugged” activities, which required participants to utilize the CT framework for collaboration in order to work in pairs to act out a set of algorithms.
Much of the afternoon involved time for district teachers and specialists to explore computer programming through Scratch. Individuals worked at their own pace to create simple, interactive video games. Later, with the help of Mr. Joe Muskin from UIUC, participants worked with Arduinos to program LED lights. The day ended with some collaboration time for teachers to begin planning how to incorporate CT/CS in their classrooms. The STEM Specialists from Jefferson, Edison and Franklin Middle Schools developed a plan to implement CT/CS into their STEM classes so that all middle level students enrolled in the course will have the opportunity to build skills in these areas. –Tina Lehr