Friday 5: K-12 computer science trends

Key points:

K-12 computer science is essential, not just for students who may pursue computer science or STEM fields in college or the workforce. Computer science principles give students critical computational thinking skills that will serve them in any career field or professional endeavor.

Let’s take a look at K-12 computer science trends and where computer science education is heading across the country:…Read More

Teacher Shortage Solutions for Computer Science and CTE

The lack of computer science technology educators in middle schools continues to be a genuine crisis, especially considering the critical role of STEM education in preparing students for future careers. Traditional hiring practices often result in non-specialist educators teaching computer science, leading to challenges in delivering effective instruction.

Graham Celine, VP of Business Development & Marketing for Intelitek, which offers the online platform CoderZ, emphasized this topic last month at FETC and in this conversation with eSchool. CoderZ aims to address this gap by providing comprehensive tools and resources for both students and educators, enabling structured and engaging computer science education. 

With increasing recognition of computer science as a fundamental skill, particularly evidenced by state standards mandating its inclusion in curricula, CoderZ offers a solution aligned with educational goals and industry demands. Graham says the program’s flexible implementation options cater to various educational settings, from individual subscriptions to district-wide adoption. Moreover, he points to the product’s assessment strategies focused on student outcomes, employing a combination of automated evaluations and teacher-led assessments to ensure comprehensive learning assessment. Have a listen:…Read More

Launching a districtwide computer science program for all grades

Key points:

With 24,000 students, Springfield Public Schools is usually among the three largest school districts in Massachusetts. Our students are spread across 31 elementary schools and a total of 70 schools. It’s no exaggeration to say that computational thinking plays a part in all of them. Fortunately, the district earned a grant that allowed us to offer computer science at every grade level, starting as early as pre-K. Because many of our teachers had no background in computer science, though, this large-scale implementation was no easy task.

Meeting standards and managing devices…Read More

RobotLAB Inks Landmark Robotics Partnership with American Samoa Department of Education

DALLAS, TX – RobotLAB, an award-winning robotics integrator that delivers impactful technological innovations and solutions for educators and business owners across the globe, has inked a momentous partnership with the American Samoa Department of Education. RobotLAB will provide more than 150 technology carts to the nation’s public schools, each including humanoid robots, virtual reality headsets, laptops, tablets and lesson plans that will expose students to age-appropriate technology and encourage a mastery of computer science, artificial intelligence, automation, STEM and robotics.

“We’re honored to bring enhanced STEM education and robotics to American Samoa, as we’ve seen the positive impact these technologies have had on students over the last 15-plus years,” said RobotLAB Founder and CEO, Elad Inbar. “After working with the American Samoa Department of Education to identify the best programs and packages for their needs, we’re excited to introduce students in American Samoa to best-in-class education technologies that will challenge and encourage them to master the interconnected world of robotics and automation through hands-on learning.”

Each STEM cart has been tailored by RobotLAB’s skilled roboticists and education specialists for the various grade levels, ensuring teachers have the appropriate products and lesson plans for their students. The carts can accommodate classrooms of up to 24 students, each including three age-specific product bundles comprised of humanoid robots, virtual reality headsets and more. Mindful of inclusivity and accessibility, RobotLAB is also providing robots, VR equipment, projected reality stations and lesson plans designed for students with a variety of learning needs.…Read More

The State of Computer Science report reveals progress and challenges in U.S. education

The 7th annual report on K-12 computer science in the United States dropped today. It provides an update on national and state-level computer science education policy, including policy trends, maps, state summaries, and implementation data. I had the chance to speak with Sean Roberts, VP of US Strategy from Code.org and get a pre-brief before today’s release. Sean underscores the report’s findings including the significant growth in the number of schools offering computer science courses, emphasizes the importance of foundational computer science education, and outlines the challenges, including the persistent gender gap in the field. Dig in to the whole report here. Scroll down for some takeaways and data highlights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Remarkable Growth: The report reveals a substantial increase in the number of schools offering computer science courses across the country since 2018, demonstrating a growing recognition of the subject’s importance.
  • Importance of Foundational Education: Foundational computer science education encompasses a focus on programming, algorithms, and broader concepts related to computing. It aims to empower students to be not just consumers but creators of technology, with a deep understanding of its impact on society.
  • Gender Gap Challenge: The report addresses the persistent gender gap in computer science participation, with young women representing only around 30% of students in computer science courses. However, states that have made computer science a graduation requirement have seen significant increases in female participation, highlighting the potential for bridging this gap.
  • Professional Development for Teachers: To meet the increasing demand for computer science education, many teachers who did not initially specialize in the field are being upskilled. The report emphasizes the importance of supporting existing teachers to provide high-quality computer science education and creating a pipeline of future computer science educators.
  • Graduation Requirements: Making computer science a graduation requirement is a complex process that varies by state and district. The report recommends flexible approaches and multi-year implementation pathways to ensure a smooth transition and alignment with existing graduation requirements.
  • Future Prospects: The report predicts that, in the next three to four years, more states will make computer science a graduation requirement, leading to increased access for students and the closing of gender gaps in the field. It envisions a future where every K-12 student in the US has exposure to computer science, preparing them for the age of AI and beyond.

Highlights related to access and participation: …Read More

The advent of AI

What’s better than watching a lively and substantive conversation thread develop on LinkedIn as a result of your recent posting on the hottest topic in edtech today? Getting the participants to follow up with a real live conversation of their own. So it was that I was able to snag a Zoom session with Jerry Crisci, founding co-director of the Center for Innovation for the Scarsdale Public Schools in Scarsdale, NY; Mark Loundy, instructional technology specialist for the Cupertino Union School District, CA; and Gary Stager, a pioneer in 1:1 computing, online learning, and computer science for all students, to weigh in on their perspectives. 

In an inspired and somewhat provocative go around, we touch on topics including AI’s influence on the education sector, concerns about cheating, the need for educational reform, and the potential for AI to enhance learning. Give it a listen and maybe chime in yourself! To read more about Gary Stger’s work regarding AI click here; for Jerry Crisci, click here; and for Mark Loundy, click here.

.Three Key Takeaways:…Read More

KinderLab Robotics Debuts AI Curriculum for Young Learners

Waltham, MA KinderLab Robotics, a leader in educational STEAM robotics for grades pre-K–5, has launched Thinking with KIBO: Introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Early Grades, a free curriculum designed to help students understand how AI tools work and think critically about how these tools can improve lives in their communities.

Designed for students in grades 1–3, each of the lessons allow students to explore fundamental ideas about AI through activities with the hands-on and screen-free KIBO robot. Thinking with KIBO engages with computer science concepts in K–5, alongside evolving content standards in artificial intelligence. The curriculum is ideal for a 5–6 week unit in computer science or technology/media classes, as well as afterschool programs, enrichment centers, libraries, makerspaces, and more.

“We can make advanced and abstract ideas like AI accessible to young kids when we stick with what works in early childhood: hands-on experience with physical manipulatives and playful opportunities for self-directed knowledge construction,” said Jason Innes, director of curriculum, training, and product management at KinderLab Robotics. “KIBO provides a research-proven method to explore computer science, engineering, and now AI concepts in early childhood STEM education.” …Read More

How to integrate a computer science curriculum into K-5 classrooms

Key points:

  • Although a majority of teachers believe computer science education is critical, the subject isn’t required–or even offered–nationwide
  • Introducing computer science at an early age equips students with the skills and confidence to be curious in STEAM learning
  • See related article: 4 resources to differentiate computer science instruction

I love it so much I would do it every day if we could!” These words are music to any teacher’s ears and I’m lucky enough to hear this sentiment from my students often. Since introducing a new computer science curriculum in 2019, my students at Redlands Unified School District have consistently shown engagement, genuine enthusiasm, and joy in learning.

Defining the importance of early computer science learning…Read More

CodeHS Launches Comprehensive, Easy-to-Use Computer Science Curriculum for Elementary

Chicago, Illinois – The significance of computer science education in schools is growing exponentially as it empowers children with the essential skills to navigate and excel in the digital world. While the emphasis on computer science curriculum is often placed on middle and high schools, the need for elementary students to acquire the skills necessary for success in a technology-driven world is becoming increasingly crucial.

CodeHS, a leading platform for K-12 computer science education, has launched a curriculum for elementary schools to fit seamlessly into a K-12 computer science pathway. With ready-to-go lessons, CodeHS makes teaching computer science simple even for elementary teachers who have never taught computer science before. Lessons include engaging student-facing videos that guide instruction, discussion questions, interactive activities, and practice.

Designed to fit the needs of any elementary school, CodeHS curriculum offers two K-5 pathways: Computer Science in Context and Computer Science in Focus. The In Context Pathway includes interdisciplinary lessons built to be incorporated into other parts of the school day- including ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies instructional time. The In Focus Pathway is designed for a dedicated computer science or technology class.…Read More

Ellipsis Education Launches the Curriculum Delivery Platform

CARMEL, Ind. – Ellipsis Education, a leader in computer science curriculum for K-12 education, has launched the Curriculum Delivery Platform (CDP) that will provide everything educators need to teach computer science in one place.

The CDP is an online portal where teachers access and navigate Ellipsis courses. Designed to be mobile-responsive, the CDP makes the curriculum teachers know and love easier to use. Features of the CDP include:

  • Streamlined organization; 
  • Increased access to resources; 
  • Improved look and feel;
  • Access to a standards map on the lesson-level page; and 
  • Easier movement between courses.

“We hope that teachers will find this delivery tool efficient to use and attractive to view,” said Dr. Whitney Dove, CEO at Ellipsis Education. “Our goal is to put the curriculum at teachers’ fingertips, so they spend less time gathering their materials and more time doing what they do best—teaching!”…Read More

GameMaker Introduces Free Space Rocks Tutorial for Schools and Educators

Dundee, Scotland — GameMaker, the fast and friendly cross-platform game development engine, has introduced Space Rocks – a comprehensive new game design tutorial and lesson program for teachers and educators. 

“Space Rocks makes it easier than ever for schools and educators to introduce game design lessons to help boost student engagement and support STEM learning,” said Frank Moody, education liaison lead at GameMaker, adding: “Not only are the CSTA standards-based lesson plans and materials absolutely free to use, but so is the latest version of GameMaker for Educators. Game on!”

Space Rocks has been developed in line with CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) standards, providing the perfect introduction to computational thinking concepts and game design principles. The tutorial provides all the written and video-based learning materials required to help students learn how to use GameMaker and create their own asteroid shooter game, in just three lessons. …Read More