After attending University of Chicago's Professional Development Design Studio, I really had a better idea of what teachers in our workshops needed, and what would make these experiences more beneficial. I did not implement all that I learned nor all that I wanted to, but it was a start and moving in the right direction.
My professional development included the following elements:
· modeling how I teach my students
· make what I do obvious to the teachers. For example, I shared stories with them and examples of how I can connect the material and make it meaningful for students. Also, pointing out pitfalls for students and discussing how I help them work through these obstacles.
· teach pedagogy as well as programming
· provide them with resources and provide them time to work and explore
· engagement!! Teachers were asked to share if statements that they wrote in pairs. We were able to examine the benefits of the different versions, all while reinforcing that they were all correct and acceptable solutions.
· show and share – teachers worked on projects, extended them, and then shared what they did, so that we could all benefit from their work
My approach to my beginning programming class has been to provide students with the same material, but in a variety of products. This allows them to see material multiple times with lots of practice to gain mastery. I start my year with a little Lightbot 2.0, maybe a week. Then we move to Alice and media computation, Exploring Wonderland: Java Programming using Alice and Media Computation by Dann, Cooper and Ericson . Sometimes, I will add a unit of Greenfoot too. This is basically how we conducted the workshop. We spent 1 day in Alice, 1 day in Greenfoot, a day using the Turtle class and then the final day will be working with Pictures. The topics that we cover include: Classes, object, method writing, return types, parameters, proper identifiers, conditionals, if statements, a little exposure to for loops, and a LOT of fun! We also were sure to leave time to discuss the major issues: CS Principles, AP reading, recruitment, modified schedules, CS 10K Community , and anything else that came up along the way.
My favorite part of these workshops is that I just made a dozen or so new friends and strengthened several relationships with teachers in my county. Some of them will choose to travel this path with me, and I look forward to working with them as they develop a program at their school. And it is my greatest hope that I will have inspired those who aren’t planning to teach CS next year, to look into teaching it in the future. Computer Science does make you special and all of them are now computer programmers!
Best of luck group! Thanks for spending a few days with me.