Can You Define Computer Science
Earlier this month, teachers and technology professionals from River Forest, Lake Central, and Middlebury joined staff members from Hanover to answer that very question and much more through the CS First Initiative.
Teachers and staff members from Hanover and other districts came together to attend a professional development class on teaching computer science.
Google and Five Star Technology Solutions have partnered together to create and share the CS First curriculum to help teachers introduce computer science standards in their classrooms, even if the teachers have little or no computer science background or skillset. The goal, to ultimately help students become creators rather than consumers of technology. Technology, has become a prerequisite to success in almost every college and career path, even those that are often thought of as ‘technology free.’
For many guests of Hanover, the Wildcat Lounge in the Hanover Central High School Media and Technology Center proved to be a comforatable and relaxed learning environment.
Sherry Gick, a well known face to Hanover staff and Director of Innovative Learning for Five Star Solutions led the professional development session held in the Hanover Central High School Media and Technology Center. The training took those who attended step by step through the process of designing and creating programs by using logical instructions. Lessons and techniques can be used in every kind of curriculum from English/Language Arts to Art classes. The broad based curriculum options demonstrated at the CS First training can be easily adapted to any subject and all place the emphasis on developing skills beyond playing a video game or learning to type on a computer keyboard.
Sherry Gick or Five Star Technologies and John Flanagin, Director of Technology for Hanover Schools prepare for the professional development session.
Participants worked as students first to truly understand what technology looks like, not from the front of the classroom, but from the seats their students sit in every day. Teachers then stepped back into their roles as educators to work on the best way to introduce computer science concepts to students. What might not be as obvious is the fact that just like their students, the training required them to use all of the skills that have become so important to a complete and successful education, i.e., collaborating, thinking critically and creatively and doing it all without fear.
“Regardless of their future career choice, all students will be interacting with technology as adults, and it is our job to prepare them. Most teachers have had little computer science training and are not expected to be experts, but CS First levels the playing field and allows all of us to use computer programming with confidence in order to enhance the curriculum and prepare our students for their academic and adult lives. The students are growing exponentially through activities that require problem solving, perseverance, and self-help skills. We want our students to have a growth mindset and not be afraid to take risks,” explained Hanover Technology Coach, Melissa Walley.
John Flanagin and Lincoln Elementary School teacher, Natalie Myszkowski at CS First professional development session.
Providing opportunities like the Google and Five Star Technology Solutions CS First initiative and involving teachers and professionals from other school districts is an invaluable way to help education professionals know exactly what it is like to walk into a classroom and tackle something new with people you’ve never met. It was truly an exercise in computer science and compassionate teaching.