What Massachusetts computing teachers learned in summer 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Through eight ECEP-sponsored professional development workshops in Massachusetts, teachers from across the state were given the opportunity to reinvigorate their teaching practices with new techniques and curricula. Some participating teachers were novices in the field of computer science, and were looking for guidance in introducing the subject. Others were focused on inspiring students who may have been turned off to computing in the past. With offerings involving video game programming, art making, and robotics competitions, teachers learned a variety of innovative approaches –and had a lot of fun in the process. See, for example, the App Inventor video created by teaching assistant Audra Kaplan here!
Workshops offered free of cost included the following:

  • CS Unplugged, Worcester State University
    • A 2-day course on CS activities with no computer required! Participants received a booklet of activities for classroom implementation.
  • Computational Thinking Seminar Series, UMass Lowell
    • Participants read and discussed pedagogy over several months
  • App Inventor 2 Bootcamp, Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), Holyoke
    • A weeklong introduction to creating apps, with a focus on curriculum integration
  • Bootstrap, MGHPCC, Holyoke
    • Through a 2-day workshop, educators learned this online program, which improves students’ algebra skills through video game development
  • Artbotics, MGHPCC, Holyoke
    • Using LEGO NXT, teachers learned to draw out student creativity and engagement with art materials and robotics programming
  • FIRST LEGO League, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
    • A hands-on weeklong program through the STEM Education Center
  • VEX Robotics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
    • A weeklong course on incorporating robotics and Easy C software in the classroom at the STEM Education Center
  • Coaches Connect (FIRST LEGO League), MGHPCC, Holyoke
    • A one-day intensive to coaching 9-14 year olds in robotics competitions.

In all, approximately 90 educators participated in these events. Teachers left the workshops armed with certificates of participations, curriculum plans, and additional opportunities for support (such as web platforms and email contacts) from the organizers.