Puerto Rico set to teach Exploring Computer Science in Spanish

Thursday, August 31, 2017

By Patricia Ordóñez, Associate Professor, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras and Joseph Carroll-Miranda, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

Puerto Rico held its first teacher professional development (PD) of the Exploring Computer Science curriculum in Spanish using the translated version of Exploring Computer Science, El Mundo de la Computación. Seventeen teachers and five mentors-in-training attended the event July 19-23 at the Engine-4 co-working space in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Computer science professor Dale Reed of the University of Illinois at Chicago led the workshop with teachers from across the island. Everyone was impressed with his ability to teach the course in Spanish.

The translation of the curriculum and the PD was made possible by two mini-grants from Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP), an NSF-funded, 17-state alliance. ECEP, part of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's College of Information and Computer Sciences, seeks to increase the number and diversity of students in the pipeline to computing and computing-intensive degrees by supporting state-level computing education reform.

ECEP also sponsored the mentors-in-training program last summer at ECS PD workshops in Delaware, California, and Minnesota. These trainings laid the groundwork for the translation of the curriculum and the first-ever teacher PD in Spanish, El Mundo de la Computación -- the culmination of two years of working with ECEP.

The weeklong training covered content from the first two modules of the ECS course, including: Web 2.0, the importance of following instructions, lists and ordering, algorithms with African braids, and HTML5.

The training was so well-received, participants shared a group hug on the final day when Dale was moved by the gifts teachers had brought him. The team has been communicating by text since then and they were invited to meet with Julia Keleher, the Secretary of the Department of Education and the Director of Curriculum, to receive guidance for how to both implement and integrate the ECS curriculum for the upcoming academic year.

Throughout the school year, a professional group for teachers will be maintained to ensure the successful implementation of the curriculum. Teachers will attend one Saturday PD session each semester to reinforce the material and provide moral support. An interdisciplinary team from the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras will work with the group to determine how to improve the PD and the support process, as well as, determine how to scale the PD and curriculum for all schools in Puerto Rico.

To expand the support for this initiative across the island, the Faculty of Education and the Department of Computer Science of the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus have joined forces to promote quality K-12 computing education to the schools of Puerto Rico by creating the CS4All Puerto Rico initiative, in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Information Technology Cluster. They are looking forward to having their second CS4All Puerto Rico Symposium this fall on October 19 with the goal of creating an alliance in Puerto Rico that can make a collaborative impact on computing education.