In fifteen years we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing… and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. – Mark Zuckerberg
The average car has 15 computer chips in it. The average high-end car has almost 100 computer chips in it.
Very few students are taking AP Computer Science. And of that small sliver, only 15% are girls and only 8% are not White or Asian.
Code.org is a public nonprofit dedicated to bringing computer science to every school and to increasing participation by women and underrepresented student populations. Organizer of the Hour of Code campaign. Computer science PD partner for 30 of the largest districts nationwide, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Producer of online courses in 30,000 classrooms.
Code.org elementary curriculum was created in conjunction with Cal-Berkeley.
Short 20-hour courses for elementary school
Course 1 – for early readers, ages 4-6, grades K-1
Pair programming leads to fewer errors and fewer dumb errors
Consider having kids do all the exercises on one kid’s account, then going back and doing them again on the other kid’s account – solidifies learning, helps them understand better (sometimes they just get lucky), fosters more creative solutions the second time through, etc.
Often students get the problem right but they don’t understand why or can’t explain why
In Code.org, students can’t break anything – “let’s try it and find out together”
Teachers have long struggled with the tension between breadth and depth.
It’s a hard choice, hard enough that we are tempted to avoid it, dismiss it as a false choice, or contend that it is a dilemma we can dissolve through tinkering. Maybe we don’t have to choose between covering a lot of content and focusing on a particular concept or skill. Maybe we can find a way to do both at the same time.
We shouldn’t kid ourselves. The tension is inescapable, and the choice is unavoidable: go with depth.
Depth is what the world demands of us. The explosion of human knowledge is not a 21st century phenomenon; it happened in the last century. Today, in this era of Big Data, explosive can hardly describe the exponential rate of growth. “Every two days,” says former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.”
So the answer to exploding knowledge is not more schooling but a different kind of schooling. This is what the concept of deeper learning is all about and why it came to be. To pretend that we can “cover” everything that students need to know is to tilt at windmills. We must rid ourselves of any residual notions that education is the transmission of needed knowledge. Rather, we must embrace the reality that we are teaching skills, and one skill most generally: how to ride a tsunami of knowledge whose future content we can’t even begin to imagine.
What this means, ultimately, is that content, though still vitally important, is always a means to the end of some underlying, conceptual understanding. Decades of research bear this out: when deep, conceptual understanding is achieved, learning is enduring, flexible, and real.
I think the fact that only 44% of our kids reporting engagement in high school strongly suggests [that school is] “broken.” I think the difference of educational opportunities for the kids in Camden v. the kids at Lawrenceville Prep is “broken.” I think spending an inordinate amount of time on curriculum that will soon be forgotten, curriculum that most kids don’t care about despite our best efforts to make them care, curriculum that then gets assessed in ways that really don’t show if kids can actually apply it and is used to evaluate teachers in a blatantly unfair way… all of that is “broken.”
Peek Into a STEM Classroom: Mt. Pleasant Middle School
Northwest Iowa STEM Region Breakout Session, Molly Faber & Mary Trent
Created a STEM and Scale-Up Introduction short course on AEA PD Online (explains each scale-up grant in ways that are easier, more accessible for teachers)
Wish this wasn’t locked down behind AEA PD Online (with quizzes!) instead of being openly accessible via a blog, web site, wiki, etc.
Breakout group questions
What’s going well in the NW region?
Outreach that Mary’s doing – PD for teachers – STEM day for 6th graders – there’s a lot of outreach occurring right now that is creating awareness
We also are seeing more business partnerships, co-sponsorships
Scale-up grant impacts have been favorable – are using them well in our district
World Food Prize – lots of supportive communities – we believe in making this happen
First Lego League – still getting emails about what’s going on – possible grants that are coming up – great communication
Girls Scouts – all girl Lego leagues, Engineering is Elementary – girls are empowered – Flying Monkeys prosthetic device patent!
Belie-Blank – Spencer CSD is doing math-science extracurricular with 6-8 graders
Prairie Lakes AEA – seeing lots of depth with Defined STEM
Sioux City CSD – opening a K-5 STEM specialty school in Fall 2015
What would we like to see more of in the NW region? What’s missing? What/who/where is the solution?
How do we assess student growth / development? Our current assessments aren’t up to the task.
Teacher preparation – higher ed isn’t giving us what we need – it could be better
Higher ed should be ahead of us, not behind us
We need more volunteers / mentors
Transportation is an issue – have to get a bus to get home
A continued focus on extracurricular instead of curricular – need to get this stuff into core classes, not just after school
Ongoing PD for teachers is an ongoing need
Rock Valley CSD – student-run manufacturing business?
Local college of education just touted this past fall that they had a smartboard that preservice teachers could learn on!
Can DE help us align all of these initiatives (e.g., STEM, Teacher Leadership, MTSS) together in better ways?
We need to do a better job of attaching learning standards to our STEM activities – we want to see learning progression occurring
STEM Education Award for Inspired Teaching Awardees (Panel), Kacia Cain, Lisa Chizek, Jason Franzenburg, Allison Gregg, Shelly Vanyo, Mike Wedge
SV – I no longer think of our space as a classroom – instead, we’re an innovative learning center – no textbooks, we’re a community that solves problems using every resource available to us (including others elsewhere)
LC – I try to model learning from mistakes
KC – I bring scientists into my classes a lot, but not as talking heads in front of kids – they help with projects – I identify where I could use an extra set of hands, brains, etc. – my kids then send a mass thank you note! –
Jeff Herzberg – why aren’t we giving $20K+ award to a school, not just individual exceptional faculty? – a group of teachers and administrators working together to make this happen?
Embrace the chaos, embrace messy learning
As a parent of an elementary student, my son has had no science this year – his principal says it’s because of the increased emphasis on reading and math [UGH!]
SV – I create opportunities for myself to give up control – I create dramatic chances for other teachers to ‘help me out’ – teachers were getting upset so I had a semester where I pretended that I wasn’t doing SBG – parents are our biggest advocates – I send brown bag experiments home with students to do with parents – homework: teach parents and have them email me what they learned
What have administrators done to infect others with your STEM awesomeness?
LC – I lead an annual STEM excellence fair and bring other teachers, community members in that way
KC – all of the people at Central Campus are experts in their areas so I had to be sure that I was on my game from Day 1
JF – teacher leadership program – we’re doing PBL training for all teachers – I assumed they already knew and were doing it, had to start over and go slower
AG – admins just let me set up a science club and I talked a colleague into joining me
Differentiation is often easier during hands-on performance tasks – have to listen, keep eyes and ears open to see/hear what they’re doing
Promoting STEM Careers From a School Counselor’s Point of View (Panel)
On average, Iowa counselors serve 429 students each
Counselors are uniquely trained in career theory and career development and uniquely positioned to bring various resources together to bear for the whole child – when you have 800-900 students, it’s physically impossible to do this, however
Most counselors have 60+ graduate hours – that’s a lot of expertise to waste serving on bus duty
At no time in my administrative licensure training did I receive guidance on how to most effectively use my counselor
Could say this about any role, not just counselors?
Local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations are nice resources for career / workforce information, speakers, data, etc.
Closing Remarks, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds & Mary Andringa
A book for everyone who made it to the end of the day, courtesy of DMACC
[As is typical for these statewide summits, the day was heavy on sit-and-get with extremely little interaction… As I’ve said before, can’t we figure out some way to tap into the collective wisdom, expertise, and experience of the 500+ people here?!]
The 7th graders at the International School of Brussels had an entire day of technology- and Internet-suffused awesomeness yesterday. I was asked to send them a short kickoff video for their day since they had previously watched my TEDxDesMoines talk. Here’s what I sent them…
Our research shows that students can be busiest and most involved with material they already know. In most of the classrooms we have studied, each student already knows about 40-50% of what the teacher is teaching.
Our outdated school start date legislation clearly fails to meet the needs of schools (336 out of 338 school districts asked for a waiver last year) but suddenly is being tightly enforced. Our state department of education says that it believes in principles of ‘local control’ but then this year notified districts that it no longer would automatically grant school start date waivers and that essentially every reason they might give for an earlier start date will not be considered legitimate. The school start date consternation is apparently being driven by the tourism industry. Educational needs are being given short shrift.
Of course we’re seeing lots of posturing from both sides of the political aisle (e.g., polarizing comments, Twitter wars, and ‘public’ hearings in rooms that are too small for the public to attend). And we’re seeing some really goofy stuff occurring during what should be important discussions and debates.
Perhaps the most saddening part of a Culture of Achievement is its low ceiling. While it may be politically and strategically smart to pursue the quick hits of raising test scores, it’s a fool’s bargain that limits the potential of our students in a myriad of ways.
What if we pursued a Culture of Teaching and Learning? One that placed an emphasis on things like deep, rich inquiry and craftsmanship? What if the learning had no ceiling and students were authentically assessed and did real-world work where they uncovered and discovered content? What if instead of disaggregating data our teachers engaged in quality professional discourse about their work in ways that excited them and their students? A Culture of Teaching and Learning often produces great (test scores) achievement but a Culture of Achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning. A Culture of Teaching and Learning rewards and professionalizes teaching and helps create students who are empowered by their possibilities and less than concerned with test performance.
If your school is looking to create great thinkers and learners and not just students stuffed full of content take a look at your culture. If your school is wishing your students were excited to be there instead of feeling the tension of just trying to attend and endure take a look at your culture. Is your focus on test scores and “achievement” or do your teachers and students engage in ways that allow them to grow and make meaning out of their learning in ways that tests don’t measure and quantify? Is the purpose of your school to produce great test scores or students capable of thinking creatively and critically about things that matter?