The ECEP Alliance takes on CS Ed Week 2016

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In support of Computer Science Education Week 2016 (December 5-11), ECEP states organized various CS Ed Week activities to encourage participation in computing.
In honor of CS Ed Week, Mark Guzdial – ECEP PI, computer education researcher, and professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology – wrote and posted an article on his well-read Computing Education Blog, titled Making hard choices in state computing education policy toward #CSforAll #CSEdWeek.
Anne Leftwich, associate professor at Indiana University, School of Ed, had her students teach computer science to local elementary school students, creating a logical partnership between higher education and K12.

As the final project for the W210 (Survey of Computer-Based Education) class, preservice teachers developed a half-day computer science lesson to accompany the Hour of Code. They drove up to Washington Township and implemented how-to-code activities for more than 750+ kids at Allisonville Elementary School. They created three computer science lesson plans geared toward students in grades 1-5. The purpose of the experience was to get preservice teachers thinking about teaching pedagogies and how to make computer science appealing, meaningful, and fun for young students. 

For first grade students, preservice teachers used Beebots to teach young students how to give step-by-step instructions to program a robot to move.

In the second and third grade classrooms, students learned about algorithms, loops, and an app called Scratch Jr., which uses simple puzzle-style block-coding that allows the user to move a "sprite," or avatar, around a picture they design. The lesson was to guide students to make their own holiday cards by using these functions.

For the fourth and fifth grade classrooms, preservice teachers incorporated an unplugged activity to teach students about basic concepts such as algorithms, loops and conditionals. Students were taught to use Scratch MIT, a more advanced and computer-only block-coding program, to create a story about themselves!
The Commonwealth for Information Technology Education (CAITE) collaborated with the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) Education Foundation to support and promote CS Ed Week across Massachusetts. The effort raised awareness, offered webinars to help teachers get ready for CS Ed Week, and provided CS Ed Week kits to nearly 200 educators across the state who organized computing activities in and out of the classroom. Each kit included a poster, CS Ed Week buttons for teachers, "iCoded" buttons for students, and a sample press release. The effort was featured in the White House Fact Sheet: A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science for All.
Rick Freedman (pictured, far right), fifth-year graduate student in the MS/Ph.D. program in Computer Science at UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences, along with UMass volunteers Ari Kobren, Ryan McKenna and Rohith Pesala, visited Liberty Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 8 to join technology teacher Melissa Zeitz's classes in coding-related activities and to talk about the world of computer science.

Jim Kurose, Distinguished Professor at UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences and Assistant Director, Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va., visited the Amherst Regional Public Schools Friday, Dec. 9 to participate in Hour of Code activities and talk about the role of computer science in the world today.
Governor Charlie Baker released a proclamation on Dec. 1, in recognition of CS Ed Week, acknowledging the importance of computer science in our culture, economy, and society, and encouraging students to take part in observing it through computer science activities. Nearly 900 Massachusetts schools and organizations registered for Hour of Code throug the CS Ed Week website.
CodeVA continues to focus their work on bringing CS for All to Virginia and broadening participation in computing. They launched CS Ed Week on Monday with their 4th annual Virginia Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code kickoff event sponsored by Capital One and CarMax at the Science Museum of Virginia. Computer Science took over the I-Max dome theater for the event, packing the house with more than 100 kids and various corporate and statewide dignitaries, including Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and our former Secretary of the Commonwealth, Levar Stoney, who is about to be inaugurated as Richmond, Va., mayor. The event also included a special video message from Gov. Terry McAuliffe and an impressive presentation from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering's drone program showing off how computer science powers their work.
CodeVA used the event also to spotlight a new partnership with Petersburg Public Schools, an inner-city school district facing economic and performance challenges. The partnership, in cooperation with Comcast and Altria, will train elementary teachers and provide those teachers - often heavily under-resourced - with laptop computers for personal use, as well as "computers on wheels" sets for classroom instruction. Petersburg Superintendent Marcus Newsome, in attendance, also announced plans for a one-to-one laptop initiative for all students at Petersburg's Peabody Middle School.

Virginia CS Ed Week continued with a second kickoff event in Northern Virginia hosted by Starbucks and sponsored by CodeVA and the Northern Virginia Technology Council. The event served as a platform to announce the program Cuppa/Code, that pairs new computer science teachers with their local technology industry in informal settings aimed at fostering cross-community collaboration and mentoring. 
To celebrate CS Ed Week, the White House released a fact sheet listing hundreds of CS for All commitments for 2016. Several ECEP states made the list: Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.