2011 Grace Hopper K-12 Teachers Workshop
A couple of weeks ago (time flies), I got to spend a few days in Portland for the Grace Hopper K-12 Teachers Workshop. I’ve found this event to be a great opportunity to connect with some of the most energetic and innovative computing instructors in the country. Each year, the Computer Science Teachers Association provides scholarships for instructors to attend and I highly recommend that any K-12 computing instructor apply for one.
This year, I went with a different perspective. I was primarily on the lookout for ideas of projects universities could take on to support computing education in middle and high schools. I was also looking for inspiration on how to effect state-level change in the way K-12 computing is viewed and on how to attract and retain more women in our computing courses. Of course, I came home with plenty of ideas and am now looking for opportunities and time to put them into action.
I also had the opportunity to give a talk titled “Online Presence For Professional Development, Community Engagement and Student Support” (ppt slides). I tried to frame it as a call to arms for those who care about computing education to share more of what they do online. I emphasized several of the benefits of a vibrant online community: reduced isolation, greater variety of resources to choose from, more opportunities for inspiration and learning. I made specific recommendations on running a course website and encouraged everyone to comment on the Computer Science Teachers Association blog and to become active members in communities such as ScratchEd or the AP CS Listserv. I pointed to some ways that educators of other subjects have built community including Classroom2.0 and math instructor-turned-ed-grad-student Dan Meyer’s blog where Dan periodically gets his readers to help him refine lessons. We had the beginning of a great discussion on reasons CS educators may not be sharing much now and ways to improve on the online gathering places that already exist. This continued between sessions and hopefully will result in an ongoing conversation about improving our collective online presence.
One of the best parts of this event was meeting Ben Chun in person for the first time. Ben provided me with a great example of why computing educators should consider blogging — though we had never met, we had been carrying on a very valuable online dialog for the past three years through our respective blogs. I have learned an incredible amount from his introspective posts on teaching and his inspirational side projects such as ilearnedtoprogram.com and the Kickstarter-funded ctillustrated.com. Our online relationship led me to send some volunteers his way who spent a significant amount of time working with his students. Blogging can truly open doors.
I really enjoyed being a part of this year’s Grace Hopper K-12 Teachers Workshop. I found many things to be inspired about and many ideas I would like to implement. I hope that my presentation left some instructors with the tools and inspiration to share more of what they do online.