I have accepted a new position in my district, Teacher on Special Assignment, Computer Science Content Specialist. I am leaving my role as a Curriculum Technology Integration Specialist to start this new role. I am so excited, and proud, to be working in the STEM department, on the Computer Science (CS) team. We are bringing CS education to all grade levels, at all schools, across the San Francisco Unified School District. This is an enormous (and exciting) task, it’s already underway, and now with the additional employees, the initiative will really take off this year. I can’t wait to start, in fact, I’m already working on things for next year now.
My role divides into 2 parts. 50% of the time I’ll write and revise the curriculum, coach teachers who are teaching the curriculum, and assist with the monthly PLC meetings of CS teachers. The other 50% will be spent teaching. I expect to be mostly at middle school level, but I’ll probably teach some Elementary School classes as well. I’m excited to be potentially teaching a 6th grade course focused on Scratch. This is an awesome opportunity for me. The 7th grade curriculum is based on MIT’s App Inventor curriculum. I could be teaching this class as well. The 8th grade curriculum has not been used as much yet, but focuses on Python. I piloted some of the elementary K-5 CS curriculum this past school year, so I’m familiar and comfortable with it, if that happens.
If I can dream, I’d spend the teaching portion mostly teaching 6th grade because I love Scratch. It would also allow me to teach the same course a number of times, to iterate, get better, and refine the curriculum, and my teaching. It’s pretty clear I’ll probably pick up some elementary computer science classes as well. If I could dream here, I’d stick to the 3-5 curriculum. It focuses on CS concepts through unplugged activities, then Code Studio courses, Scratch, then Makey Makey integration. I’d love to to teach it all the way through a couple of times, I only used bits and pieces when I piloted it this year.
There are parts of the curriculum that I’m less familiar with. For example, I have not used App Inventor yet. I’m waiting to hear if I’ll be teaching 7th grade classes before I work my way through the curriculum over the summer. I definitely do not know Python either, which is the foundation of the 8th grade curriculum. Since the CS initiative is relatively new, I don’t think the Python courses have been taught much. I know I can learn it, but I haven’t had the need to do so. I’m hoping to have a clearer picture, soon, of which grade levels I will teach.
Managing materials for K-2 could be a challenge. There are many materials in the K-2 curriculum. If I’m based out of central office, and work as an itinerant CS teacher, I’ll need to store the materials at each school site. I commute on my bicycle and it’s way too much for me to be able to bring each day I’ll be teaching. I would worry if it’s safe, if other teachers will try to use it and not take good care of it, or carelessly not put it all back. For example, the Rosie’s Runtime activity has many pieces, and could take a couple of days to do, so I’d need to bring it each day if I can’t store it at the schools. It would be easy to lose parts of it. I’ll have to figure this out immediately.
Building relationships with students and staff might be more challenging since I won’t be school based. I’ll work out of our STEM department’s office and go to a couple of different schools for 1/2 of my job. I won’t have before school, lunch, after school, passing in the hallways, etc in order to see students and develop relationships. I’m considering using Seesaw or Flipgrid to try to stay in touch when I’m not in school. This would be in addition to Google Classroom. I’ll try letting the students decide which tool to use. It’s even been suggested I use Snapchat since students can leave video messages and they probably already use it daily. We’ll see.
This summer I’m reading Teach Like a Pirate. My main strategy for success is going to be “to bring it everyday”. That comes from Teach Like a Pirate. I’ve always been very prepared and had engaging curriculum. I thought I “brought it everyday” but after reading Dave’s simple formulas to getting more exciting and relevant material into your curriculum, I realize I can do a lot more in this area. I’ll make a separate blog post about the ways I plan to do this.
I’m wondering if Google Classroom is enough for communication as well. I will use it to send out and collect student work. I want a communication solution that allows students to leave voice messages so there is no typing barrier. It could be Voxer, What’s App, Snapchat, or Flipgrid, I don’t really care. We will start with Google Classroom and add something else if we need to. They could contact me on Twitter too.
I could use Flipgrid for voice comments with students and teachers I will coach. There is a rumor that the Edumatch group on Voxer, that I’m a part of, will start using Flipgrid. Hopefully that will give me enough exposure to it so I can see if it will meet my needs.
I’m pumped to be on this team at work. I can’t wait to get started. For now, I’m going to enjoy my summer. I will be at the CSTA, Computer Science Teacher’s Association conference in Baltimore July 7th-July 11th. If you’ll be around, please get in touch so we can say hi.Please follow and like us: